bradford bypass

Doug Ford says controversial new Ontario highway will be fully funded by taxpayers

One of the hotly-contested new Ontario highways planned by Doug Ford's provincial government will not be a toll road, according to the premier — rather, the Bradford Bypass will be paid for in full by the people of Ontario.

The Bradford Bypass, which alongside the new Highway 413 is intended to help ease traffic jams across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, will be fully funded by the province, according to a release issued Monday.

"The Ontario government is taking another step toward relieving gridlock by advancing planning for the Bradford Bypass, a new four-lane freeway connecting Highway 400 and Highway 404 in Simcoe County and York Region," reads the release.

"Both regions are expected to experience rapid growth over the next 10 to 20 years and investing in this new corridor is required to ease congestion on Highway 400 and existing east-west local roads."

Cool (at least in theory), but how much will this 16.2-kilometre-long, four-lane freeway cost taxpayers?

Ford's team has yet to reveal that information, which is proving to be a point of contention among critics (or, as Ford calls them, "ideological activists"), in addition to pre-existing drama surrounding its location and that of the planned Highway 413, as well as the potential for both new highways to increase greenhouse gas emissions locally.

When announcing details about the Bradford Bypass at a press conference in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury on Monday, Ford did not provide a price tag for the project, but confirmed that it won't necessarily be those who use the road that pay for its construction.

"I want to be clear our plan for building roads, bridges and highways doesn't include tolls," he said against a backdrop of dirt and construction machinery in Bradford.

"Our government is fully funding the construction of the Bradford Bypass — this project is a critical part of our plan that's building Ontario."

The Ford government did allot some $2.6 billion for highways and bridges as part of its fall economic statement, released last week, and the premier has also pledged to spend $144 billion on infrastructure over the next few years.

Government officials told CP24 that they haven't yet publicly costed either highway project, however, because the price is "commercially sensitive information."

The province did, however, say in its release on Monday that the Bradford project is expected to support more than 700 jobs per year and "and generate more than $70 million in annual real GDP."

A date for construction has yet to be set, but a preliminary design and environmental assessment for the project is expected to be finished by this December.

If all goes well for those in favour of the Bradford Bypass, it will open in 2024.

The province says it will reduce travel time for motorists and trucks by more than 60 per cent, should they use the new highway instead of local roads, giving them back about 35 minutes a day.

The Bypass will also, however, cross through 27 waterways and 11 hectares of environmentally sensitive Holland Marsh lands, threatening some 39 hectares of wildlife habitat.

For many Toronto residents, the tradeoff doesn't seem to be worth it — regardless of what they're paying to build the freeway, should that information ever surface.

Lead photo by

Clement Lo

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