The long-awaited Line 5-Highway 400 interchange in Bradford West Gwillimbury opened without fanfare overnight.
“We had discussed about an official opening, but we were afraid it would jinx it,” said Mayor Rob Keffer. “So it is a soft opening, and at a later date we will have some dignitaries.”
Mayor and council had an opportunity to drive over the new Line 5 bridge on Tuesday afternoon, while it was still closed to the public. Sometime after 11 p.m., Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) crews removed “closed” from the signs, indicating the 5th Line exit on Highway 400, the ramps and bridge were opened.
The need for a new interchange at Line 5 was identified in Bradford West Gwillimbury planning documents more a decade ago, and an environmental assessment was completed in 2010.
The idea was to relieve congestion on County Road 88, provide better access to and from Highway 400 – especially for residents at the south end of Bradford – and to the new employment land being developed along the highway.
The project included replacement of the aging Line 5 bridge, widening of the concession line to four lanes, and realignment of Sideroad 5, Coffey Road and Fraser Creek.
In 2012, the cost of the work was estimated at $49.1 million, exclusive of property acquisition costs. The budget, including land costs, was eventually approved at $54 million, which the town is reportedly still within.
Pre-construction work began in 2015 and 2016, with the closure of the Line 5 bridge in March 2017, and its demolition April 8-9 of that year. Work on the new bridge began on May 29, 2017.
Asked about the length of time it took to open the interchange, Mahesh Ramdeo, the town's manager of capital projects noted: "The Line 5 interchange was subject to a very comprehensive MTO/town review and acceptance process. This process involved MTO engineers and operations staff, plus the town's staff."
"The main aspect of the process was a roadside safety review, to give everyone a comfort level that the Line 5 interchange met the highest possible standards. The sign-off on an aspect of roadside safety, guide rails, took longer than anticipated," he said.