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October 2016 - Supporting the 400-404 Connecting Link

As I travel around the County some of the most common feedback I receive from residents is the need for the County to be more involved in regional transit. While we have strategies, budget and a well-rounded transit plan in place to enhance our County roads, support area bus routes, build bikes lanes and trails and support other multi-modal forms of transportation, many of our residents and business owners remain concerned about growing commute times and increasing traffic volumes when travelling to and from the GTA.

The province has recently implemented a number of successful projects to improve travel in our area including investing in GO Train stations in Barrie, Bradford and soon Innisfil. However, there continues to be a growing need for an east-west highway link between the 400 and 404.

Many of our municipalities, including Bradford West Gwillimbury, Innisfil and Essa are working collaboratively with our partners in York Region to advocate for the development of the 400-404 Connecting Link.

The 400-404 Connecting Link is a proposed 16.2 km, four–lane controlled access highway that would provide an east-west connecting between Highway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury and the 404 in East Gwillimbury. 

This isn’t a new idea. The 400-404 Connecting Link has been under consideration since the late 1970’s. The land continues to be protected for highway development by the MTO and a provincial environmental assessment was approved by Cabinet in 2002.

The Connecting Link would aid in economic development, reduce congestion, improve commute times for residents and address regional growth. The proposed Link would also serve all travel markets, including commuters, transit, tourists and freight.

Outside of the obvious benefits for passenger and commercial vehicles, the Connecting Link has the potential to unlock employment lands located adjacent to highways in south Simcoe County, which would have a snowball effect of creating new jobs in our region, reducing travel demand, and improving live/work ratios for those looking to work closer to home.

With a growing number of commuters, (37,480 of Simcoe County residents commute outside the County for work and 8,645 residents commute into Simcoe County from outside the area (2011)) and rising population from 465,000 residents currently to 796,000 by 2041, the urgency to provide a solution is only growing. Our projections show that the Connecting Link has the potential to serve up to 3,700 vehicles during peak morning hours by 2041. MTO studies also show that traffic in Simcoe County will back up past the highway 400 and 11 split by 2023.

As a united group, we’re asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as the Ministry of Transportation to include the 400-404 Connecting Link in the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Residents can support our efforts by submitting your feedback to the province at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14851.aspx, by October 31, 2016.

For more information on how our municipalities are working together to make the 400-404 Connecting Link a reality, visit www.simcoe.ca/connectinglink.

Gerry Marshall
Simcoe County Warden