Ontario Ministry of Transportation responds to OSPE’s Bradford Bypass Concerns

The following is a response OSPE received from the Assistant Deputy Minister of Transportation in response to OSPE’s blog titled “The Bradford Bypass and the Need for Evidence-Based Decision Making,” which was released on the OSPE website and through social media on June 6, 2021.


Dear Mr. Perruzza,

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has reviewed the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ (OSPE) blog titled “The Bradford Bypass and the Need for Evidence-Based Decision Making”, which was released on the OSPE website on June 6, 2021, and offer the following response.

The proposed Highway 400 – Highway 404 Link (Bradford Bypass) is expected to provide a vital highway connection not only to the local community, but also to the overall transportation infrastructure network within the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). This new freeway will provide a northern freeway connection, relieve congestion on existing east-west local roads between Highway 400 and Highway 404 and will also support urban development in Simcoe County and York Region.

Even with all currently planned transportation and transit investments, road congestion will continue to increase across the GGH. In 2051, average travel speeds for Ontarians are expected to be 16 per cent slower when compared to 2016. Simcoe County is expected to experience rapid population growth over the next 10 years and York Region is growing to a population of 1.79 million by 2041. Building the Bradford Bypass is necessary to relieve existing congestion on local east-west local roads and to address the expected long-term travel demand in the area.

Any infrastructure project, including highway and transit projects, will result in impacts and opportunities to the natural, social, economic and cultural environments. MTO is fully committed to assessing the potential impacts of the Bradford Bypass and working with the appropriate advisory and regulatory agencies to avoid, minimize, mitigate and compensate for potential impacts through the Environmental Assessment (EA) process. MTO is committed to this process to ensure strong environmental oversight, and meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities, while allowing the province to build seamless transportation networks for the benefit of all Ontarians.

The route planning study for the Bradford Bypass and the EA Recommended Plan, which was approved in 2002, included proposed mitigation measures and future commitments. The EA Approved route for the Bradford Bypass was designed to minimize the environmental footprint wherever possible. The current Preliminary Design and EA Update study will include field investigations, impact assessment, mitigation, as well as environmental commitments, including those previously identified in the approved EA. A wide range of environmental disciplines studies will be carried out as part of this study, as related to natural, socio-economic, cultural, and technical disciplines and will include a ‘Human Health Impact Scoping Report’ as well as a ‘Greenhouse Gas impact Assessment Report’ to name just two of the studies that will be undertaken. All reports will be undertaken in accordance with current legislative requirements, standards and best practices, including the MTO Environmental Guides and the MTO Environmental Reference for Highway Design.

Ongoing work, including supporting field investigations, consultation, preliminary assessments, and documentation are continuing throughout 2021 and will be carried out until the end of 2022. As part of this work, a review of previous commitments made in the approved 2002 EA will be carried forward to ensure all approvals and legislative requirements at both the federal and provincial levels are met. As with all motorized transportation projects, there are potentially both positive, as well as adverse health impacts that may result from the project.

The Bradford Bypass project team comprises of a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary group of professional engineers, planners, agrologists, geoscientists, ecologists, archaeologists, designers and other technical and environmental specialists. The project team is supported and advised by experts from the provincial ministries, regulatory agencies, municipalities and other advisory bodies. The ministry’s consultant, AECOM, is a global firm with significant local presence and extensive experience planning for mobility improvements in this region.

MTO will continue to consult and engage with the public, key stakeholders, regulatory agencies and Indigenous communities to discuss the project and solicit feedback on the design and EA study. The results of these consultation efforts will be taken into consideration in the evaluation of the selection of the technically preferred design and will be presented to the public at the second Public Information Center in the fall of 2022.

MTO wishes to thank the OSPE for their continued interest in the Bradford Bypass. We share OSPE’s commitment to engaging in professional and open dialogue as we continue to work toward evidence based and sustainable growth in Simcoe County and York Region. We continue to welcome feedback from interested stakeholders at any time during the study.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Graham Harkness, P.Eng.
Assistant Deputy Minister / Chief Engineer

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bill Foster

    If the province is doing such a wonderful, environmentally conscientious job, why do they continue to refuse to consider reasonable alternatives that have significantly less cost and environmental impact? MTO says it is complying with the Lake Simcoe Protection Act. This act requires MTO to prove that there is no reasonable (environmentally less intrusive) alternative. There are only five 400 series highways in Ontario as short or shorter than the Bradford Bypass. Two connect major communities to Hwy 407, two to the US boarder and one to Pearson Airport. Given that there are no major communities north of Hwy 407 on either side of Highways 400 and 404, there is no major out-of-the-way travel that justifies a 400 series highway in this area. What out-of-the-way travel there is is generally between communities such as Bolton or Barrie, and Keswick or Uxbridge. These communities do not justify 400 series highway service. MTO continues to ignore the fact that a substantial portion of its originally identified and forecast, travel demand is now being served by the Barrie GO train with all day service promised by 2024. The City of Barrie council has requested factual answers to the following, critically important, straight forward questions: What is the impact of this highway on Lake Simcoe and what lesser impact alternatives have you considered? Barrie and all Ontario residents deserve clear answers to these questions rather than further reassuring comments from MTO such as: “there are potentially both positive, as well as adverse health impacts that may result from the project”. Or this statement from the project web site: “Once it is determined that the project is to proceed, MTO will only employ mitigation measures they consider reasonable (i.e. cost effective)”.

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