Early work on the Bradford bypass project could start as soon as this fall, according to the provincial budget delivered on Wednesday.
The budget highlighted the importance of investing in highways, noting it is critical to keep people and goods moving while connecting communities and boosting local economies.
The province has allocated more than $21 billion in funding over the next decade, including $2.6 billion in 2021-22, to expand and repair highways and bridges.
The Bradford bypass — a 16.2-kilometre, four-lane highway connecting Highways 400 and 404 — was on the list of projects currently planned or underway across the province on Page 105 of the 231-page document.
The province is advancing engineering and environmental assessment work, which will allow for early works to begin as early as fall 2021.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project is currently being updated, with approval expected by the end of December 2022.
"The province is following through on its promise to improve and invest in the province’s transportation corridors to get people moving within the region, connect people to jobs, make life easier and support a strong economy," said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, who is also the MPP for York-Simcoe.
"The County of Simcoe is expected to experience rapid growth over the next 10 years and investing in this new 16-kilometre freeway is needed to relieve congestion on existing east-west local roads and provide a northern freeway connection between Highway 400 and Highway 404," she said.
"Our government is committed to making sure that our transportation system works for all the people of Ontario," Mulroney added. "That’s why we’re making historic investments in transit and transportation infrastructure to dramatically expand and enhance the province’s transportation network."
Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer said he was pleased to hear the news from the budget announcement. Earlier this month, he had sent a letter to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, who is also president of the Treasury Board, requesting further funding be allocated in the provincial budget for the Bradford bypass project.
Bradford Coun. Jonathan Scott was also enthused about the plans for the highway.
"The growth that has already occurred in upper York Region and south Simcoe County requires this link so that commuters can get home from work, farmers can get their goods to market so that our region can be open for businesses," he said.
Scott also believes the planned highway will help bring life to the town's downtown.
"The bypass will allow us to pedestrianize and revitalize our downtown Holland Street," he said. "It's been a pleasure to work with our MPP's team to advance this vital project, and seeing a timeline for early works shows the momentum behind this project.
"I'm also seeking to ensure the bypass can be a catalyst for opening up our riverfront for recreation, with trails and other measures that will protect the forests and wetlands north and south of the new highway," Scott added.
To view the entire provincial budget, click here.