The County of Simcoe is moving ahead with plans to widen Yonge Street/County Road 4 from two to four lanes in an effort to address traffic congestion and growth needs at the south end of the county.
Preliminary work, including removal of trees and installation of fencing along the county right-of-way, has been completed for Phase 1 of the project from south of Line 9 in Bradford West Gwillimbury to approximately 400 metres south of Line 11, and also for parts of Phase 2 from south of Line 11 to Line 13.
The line of fencing cuts through fields and front yards of some homes, and appears to impact two pioneer cemeteries on the east side of Yonge Street.
The fence line approaches the midway point of both the Ebenezer United Church cemetery, located at 4045 Yonge St., and the Zion Pioneer Cemetery at 5269 Yonge St.
Julie Scruton, manager of transportation construction, had some reassuring words for residents: the cemeteries will not be impacted by the construction.
“The county's design protects the historic cemeteries,” said Scruton. “The road widening and construction will be accommodated within the existing county right-of-way at these sites.”
Instead of the open ditching often found beside rural roads, she said “an urban road cross-section has been incorporated into the design in order to minimize the impact to property at the two specified cemeteries… Concrete curb and gutter combined with storm sewer will be constructed to convey the surface drainage water.”
The project is expected to move ahead this year. Utility relocation will begin in 2021; construction of Phase 1, from just north of Bradford to the area south of Coulson’s Hill, is also planned.
“It is anticipated that the construction of Phase 1 will proceed in 2021-2022, followed by Phase 2 and Phase 3 (from Line 13 to 300 metres north of Highway 89) in subsequent years, pending county council budget approval,” Scruton said.
The original class municipal environmental assessment for the road widening was carried out in 2012, and has been modified to incorporate plans for the Ministry of Transportation's Bradford bypass corridor.
The county also began its environmental assessment (EA) for the widening of Yonge Street from north of Highway 89 to the Barrie city limits. An EA for that is now underway.