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Construction to begin on bridge crossing over future Bradford Bypass

The Ontario government is taking another step forward in its Bradford Bypass project – a new four-lane freeway that connects Highway 400 and Highway 404 in Simcoe County and York Region.

Construction is beginning on a bridge that crosses over the future Bradford Bypass, in an announcement by the province Wednesday.

"Building the Bradford Bypass is a key part of our plan to fight gridlock in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, helping commuters spend less time in traffic while creating good paying jobs for the people of this region," Premier Doug Ford said in a press release.

The Ontario government awarded Brennan Paving & Construction Ltd. the contract to design and construct the new bridge in April, allowing County of Simcoe Road Four (Yonge Street) between Eighth Line and Ninth Line to cross over the bypass.

County Road Four is also being widened from two to four lanes.

"Gridlock makes life harder for Ontario businesses and farmers who rely on a strong highway network to get their goods to market quickly," said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's minister of transportation, in Wednesday's press release.

"This important milestone brings us another step closer to getting the Bradford Bypass built, improving economic productivity and eliminating the gridlock that hurts us all."

The future bypass, a 16-kilometre highway between Eighth Line and Ninth Line, is intended to connect existing Toronto-area highways in York Region and Simcoe County, providing a shortcut route between Highway 400 and Highway 404.

"Proceeding with the overpass is a major step towards construction of the highway and demonstrates great cooperation between the province and Simcoe County," said Rob Keffer, Bradford West Gwillimbury mayor.

While there were smiles at Wednesday's press conference, there has been no shortage of backlash from community members regarding the project.

The project runs right through the Holland Marsh, an area The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition previously called the "Greenbelt's most important wetland."

In response to Ford's announcement Wednesday, Mike Schreiner, Ontario Greens Leader, expressed his displeasure with the project.

"Doug Ford just can't keep his hands off the Greenbelt," Schreiner said in a statement Wednesday. "After recently breaking his promise on Greenbelt development, today the premier announced the start of early work on the Holland Marsh Highway – a climate and environment disaster that will slice right through the Greenbelt.

"These Greenbelt highways will increase expensive sprawl, ramp up climate pollution, and destroy the nature that protects us and the farmland that feeds us. We need farmland, not freeways."

Jonathan Scott, a Bradford councillor, said he hears the concerns and ensures nothing is being overlooked.

"I share the concerns. No piece of infrastructure is neutral, but this has gone through every step of the process," said Jonathan Scott, Bradford councillor.

"The early works are limited in nature, and as the minister said today, the environmental studies that are underway, that are part of the completed [environmental assessment] are being done."

Claire Malcolmson, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition executive director, is not buying it and believes the province is neglecting the environmental impact altogether.

"They have exempted themselves from the full environmental assessment process. I've read a lot of the information, and there are studies, but they don't have to do anything with that information," Malcolmson said.

"This is just an ill-considered highway project that is being rushed through with an inadequate process. The former environmental commissioner of Ontario called it a travesty."

Malcolmson also questions the government's honesty and transparency about the project.

"We have been looking into internal documents through Freedom of Information requests, and we know this will cost more than $800 million. They just blacked out, redacted the total amount," Malcolmson said.

"We deserve the truth; we deserve to know how much it's going to cost; we deserve to know what the environmental impacts are going to be."

The province expects the bypass to save commuters up to 35 minutes per trip while supporting 2,640 jobs per year on average in the transportation, engineering, construction and supply-chain industries.

The bridge is expected to be complete by late fall of 2024, while the bypass should be finished by the end of the decade, according to Mulroney.

The government previously earmarked $1.6 billion for the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 in Peel Region but didn't say how much was allocated for each project. Top Stories

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