March 27, 2008
Media Release

Bradford Bypass urgently required to support forecasted growth

Province identified need, approved EA but omitted this key road in long-term capital plan

Backgrounder
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York will ask the Province to include the Bradford Bypass in Provincial plans as a critical infrastructure investment within the 2031 timeframe of the Growth Plan, which had omitted the Bradford Bypass. 
 
"Based on Provincial growth forecasts alone, the need for the Bradford Bypass is greater now than it was even a decade ago, not to mention 30 years ago when the highway was first introduced as a necessary solution," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  "The rapid, ongoing growth in our communities and the accompanying necessity for economic development make the demand for this Provincial infrastructure stronger, not diminished, and the timeline earlier, not later."
 
The Province had identified the need for a highway linking Highways 400 and 404 in the northern part of York Region in the late 1970s.  It approved Environmental Assessments and protected the route from development, but omitted the Bradford Bypass from recent plans.  Now, increased residential growth in Simcoe County and severe traffic congestion on the 404 have resulted in large volumes of cars and trucks using alternate routes on Regional and local concession roads that were not built to handle such traffic.
 
To address the situation, York Regional Council today authorized the Region to request the Ontario Government to:
• Include the approved Bradford Bypass alignment in Provincial Plans prior to the 2014 review date specified in the enabling legislation.
• Direct Provincial staff to work with York Region and other municipal jurisdictions to incorporate the Bradford Bypass into Regional and local municipal Official Plans.
• Develop and commit to a schedule to move the Bradford Bypass towards implementation.
 
"Moving ahead on the Bradford Bypass will allow the Town of East Gwillimbury, the Town of Georgina and York Region to prepare more complete and effective plans for future growth," said Town of Markham Regional Councillor Tony Wong, Chair of the Region's Planning and Economic Development Committee.  "Industrial and commercial developments can go ahead, creating jobs, and more complete community plans can be developed in Holland Landing, Sharon, Queensville and Georgina."
 
By facilitating development of employment lands, this Provincial infrastructure will enable York Region to attract more investment and nurture economic development that is necessary to sustain the additional population growth that is forecast for York Region.
 
"Building a new highway lessens the need for residents to travel long distances to employment areas because it will improve the opportunities for residents to live and work locally," added Chairman Fisch.
 
A lack of a 400-series bypass will maintain inefficient travel patterns, placing a great burden on Regional and local municipal roads.
 
Left unchecked during the coming decade of planned growth, this situation will lead to added traffic pressures.  It will result in more traffic congestion on Regional and local municipal roads in the Towns of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury and be a detriment to economic development in the communities.
 
 
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Communications Specialist, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell:  905 251-6413  Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca
 
 
Bradford Bypass 30-year history deep-rooted in planning
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NEWMARKET – The Government of Ontario identified the need for the Bradford Bypass, approved EAs and protected the route from development, but omitted it from recent plans.
 
Transportation needs and traffic congestion in the area south of Lake Simcoe were first examined by the Ministry of Transportation in 1979 followed by two additional studies of transportation issues in 1984 and 1989.  The last study in 1989 identified the long-term need for a Provincial highway north of Bradford, linking Highway 400 to the future Highway 404 extension.
 
The Province initiated concurrent environmental assessments for the Bradford Bypass and the Highway 404 extension in 1993.  The Ministry of the Environment approved both EAs on August 28, 2002.  In 2004, the Province designated the approved alignments for the Bradford Bypass as “Controlled Access Highway” corridors under the Highway Traffic Act.  This measure protects the route from development until the highway is developed.
 
Current municipal Official Plans and Regional Transportation Master Plan support Bradford Bypass:
Both the Bradford Bypass and the Highway 404 extension beyond Ravenshoe Road are currently shown in approved local official plans in Bradford-West Gwillimbury, East Gwillimbury and Georgina and the County of Simcoe Official Plan.
 
In 1994, a conceptual alignment of the Bradford Bypass and Highway 404 extension was identified in York Region’s first Official Plan.  Based on the EA approval of the projects in 2002, York Region amended its ROP in June 2007 to show the approved alignment of the proposed highway.  York Region’s 2002 Transportation Master Plan confirmed the need for the Bradford Bypass by 2021.
 
Province omitted Bradford Bypass in Growth Plan, highway capital plan and ministerial directions:
In June 2006, the Province’s five-year highway construction capital plan included the Highway 404 extension to Ravenshoe Road but not the extension beyond Ravenshoe Road or the Bradford Bypass.
 
In addition to identifying population and employment forecasts to 2031, the Growth Plan identifies major highway infrastructure needs for the same horizon.  The Growth Plan includes the Highway 404 extension to Ravenshoe Road but not the Bradford Bypass and the Highway 404 extension beyond Ravenshoe Road.  By exclusion, the Growth Plan has indicated that the Bradford Bypass and the Highway 404 extension beyond Ravenshoe Road are not needed by 2031 and are not being pursued by the Province.  No transportation analysis was done to support the Growth Plan, so there is no basis for determining that the Bradford Bypass and Highway 404 extension are not needed.
 
In November 2007, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing recommended that the Regional Official Plan not show these facilities on a map in the ROP nor describe them as priorities for infrastructure investment.
 
The transportation planning context:
The need for additional east-west transportation capacity between Highways 400 and 404 was identified in MTO’s Environmental Assessment report for the Bradford Bypass, completed in December 1997 and approved by the Ministry of the Environment in 2002.
 
Due to severe traffic congestion on Highway 400, seasonal and recreational traffic is choosing to use Highway 404 and Regional arterial and local concession roads to access cottage country and other destinations north of York Region.
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Existing interruptions in the road network in this area, for example the abrupt ending of Highway 404 at Green Lane and the lack of a highway connection between Highways 400 and 404, create inefficient travel patterns and result in heavy traffic on Regional and local municipal roads in the Towns of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.
 
The shift from predominantly rail-based freight transport to road based has intensified the need for a solution to allow the movement of goods from Highway 400 to Highway 404 and vice-versa.  Currently, trucks are using Regional roads to make this connection throughout most of York Region.
 
Implications of the Places to Grow and Greenbelt legislation:
The Provincial growth forecast has York Region growing from its current population of 950,000 people at year-end 2007 to 1.5 million people and 780,000 jobs in 2031.  It has Simcoe County, which is not included in the Greenbelt Plan, growing to 667,000 people and 254,000 jobs by 2031.
 
When the Bradford Bypass EA was conducted in the 1990s, the growth projections for both northern York Region and Simcoe County were much lower.  Yet, in 2002 the need for the Bradford Bypass was accepted and the route was approved.  Rapid growth will increase travel demand between Highways 400 and 404, exacerbating the need for a highway link between Highways 400 and 404 in the period before 2031.
 
Actions taken by York Region:
York Region’s 2002 Transportation Master Plan and the MTO EA study confirmed the need for the Bradford Bypass by 2021.  However, given higher growth forecasts, there is every reason to expect that the need for this highway will be stronger and that it will be needed earlier.
 
York Region has taken significant steps to improve the transportation system in this area.  They include:
• Construction of a four-lane high-capacity arterial connection between Highways 400 and 404 using Highway 9, Bathurst Street and Green Lane to serve as an interim east-west facility prior to the construction of the Bradford Bypass.
• Created the conditions for the construction of this high capacity arterial connection through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Transportation for the extension of Highway 404 to Green Lane in exchange for the transfer of Highway 9 east of Highway 400 to York Region.
The cost to York Region from these two initiatives was about $42 million.
 
Actions required by the Province:
Given the current planning context created by the Provincial Growth Plan, the need for the Bradford Bypass within the 2031 horizon has become more critical.  The Bradford Bypass is needed to handle existing travel demand as well as to support the increased travel demand resulting from the higher growth projections in the vicinity of the Bypass.
 
York Regional Council will request Provincial action in the following areas:
• Include the approved Bradford Bypass alignment in Provincial Plans prior to the 2014 review date specified in the enabling legislation.
• Direct Provincial staff to work with York Region and other municipal jurisdictions to incorporate the Bradford Bypass into Regional and local municipal Official Plans.
• Develop a schedule to move the Bradford Bypass towards implementation.
 
 
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Communications Specialist, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell:  905 251-6413  Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca


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