Contracts signed for controversial Ontario highway as project moves closer to construction

Click to play video: 'Opponents of a proposed highway north of Toronto say the road, as planned, would have untold environmental consequences.'
Opponents of a proposed highway north of Toronto say the road, as planned, would have untold environmental consequences.
RELATED: A highway project nearly 50 years in the making has become a key component of Doug Ford’s re-election campaign. The PCs want to build the road, known as the “Bradford Bypass” to connect Highway 400 to the 404. For some, it’s badly needed. But environmental groups and residents opposed to the highway say its construction would destroy key historical sites, and have massive environmental repercussions. – May 27, 2022

The Ontario government is ramping up planning for the controversial Bradford Bypass after selecting a company to start designing the western section of the 16-kilometre highway.

On Thursday, it was announced that AECOM Canada Ltd. would design 6.5 km of the western section of the Bradford Bypass.

The four-lane highway was a key promise from the premier during the last election, promising it would help relieve gridlock and save commuters’ time.

“As Ontario grows at a historic rate, there has never been a more urgent time to get shovels in the ground and build new highways and roads,” said Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria.

“Not only will the Bradford Bypass help save a generation of drivers from bumper-to-bumper traffic, but it will also create good-paying jobs and drive economic growth for decades to come.”

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The western section of the Bradford Bypass will run 6.5 km from Highway 400 to Simcoe Road 4.

Preliminary work for the Bradford Bypass is already underway with the construction of a new bridge at Simcoe Road 4 and the widening of County Road 4 from two to four lanes.

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However, not everyone supports the plan, with the proposed route passing over the Holland River and cutting through part of the Holland Marsh, which has some of the province’s richest and rarest soil.

Ontario Liberal Bonnie Crombie — whose party opposes Highway 413, the government’s other signature project — said she is in favour of the road.

“However, unlike Doug Ford, we believe in partnering with local communities to ensure all the right measures are in place to protect our environment,” Crombie said in a social media post on Thursday.

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Ontario Green Leader Mike Schreiner said the route was a waste of money and would be environmentally disastrous.

“I’m not in favour of building a highway that’s going to pave over the Greenbelt, threaten Lake Simcoe,” he said. “We simply don’t need it.”

Others in the area support the plan, like some local farmers, who say it will help reduce congestion and help them get their goods to market faster.

Simcoe County Warden Basil Clarke says the project will open new opportunities for residents and businesses.

“Simcoe County is a rapidly-growing region with expanding communities and a thriving economy, which rely on the movement of people, goods and services each day. The Bradford Bypass will be a vital and highly needed connection between Simcoe County, York Region and the GTA,” Clarke said.

— with files from Global New’s Kamyar Razavi

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