In 1993, the Ministry of Transportation published a draft EA Study Proposal to conduct the Bradford Bypass EA study. This proposal became the legal Terms of Reference under which the study was conducted.
These terms of reference set out to address the following problem / opportunity statement:
- “to resolve the problem of “out-of-the-way” travel for both local and long distance traffic.
- In resolving this problem it is also intended to improve the existing problems associated with the congestion of the intersection of Highway 88 and Highway 11 in the centre of Bradford and along Davis Drive in the Town of Newmarket.”
These problems and proposed solutions had been the focus of significant prior studies.
- 1) Highway 89. Highway 400 to Highway 12 Route Location Study (1979)
- 2) Highway 89 Extension Environmental Assessment Study (1984)
- 3) MTO /Municipal Liaison (1986)
- 4) Highway 404 / 89 Overview Study (1989)
This EA study was a follow-up to the Highway 89. Highway 400 to Highway 12 Route Location Study (1979). The Environmental Assessment Review Board, the EA approval authority at that time, issued the following ruling for this EA Study:
- Environmental Assessment approval granted to overall Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor.
- Route Designation and Property Acquisition approved for three sections: the portion of the route between York Regional Road 12 and Highway 12, the proposed 89/400 interchange, and the portion of the route along 12th Line in West Gwillimbury.
- Further detailed analysis and preliminary design of how MTO would cross the Keswick Marsh south of Cooks Bay was required before EA approval would be granted for that segment of the route.
The Board’s July 1981 “Reasons for Decision” stated:
“The Board is of the opinion that the proponent has proven the need for the undertaking and has also, in Appendix D of the EA Report-Type 1, carefully evaluated and documented the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative routes within the Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor. The proponent has, therefore, met the requirements of the Act insofar as purpose, rationale and alternatives are concerned”.
“Three alternative corridors were considered for proposed Highway 89, as follows:
- Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor
- Queensville Sideroad Corridor
- Highway 9 – Davis Drive Corridor
Each of these corridors was assessed against the four traffic objectives of:
- Resolving the local out-of-the-way traffic problem.
- Resolving the long distance out-of-the-way traffic problem.
- Resolving the Bradford congestion problem.
- Alleviating the traffic congestion problem along Davis Drive in Newmarket.
The Environmental Assessment Board stated in its September 1981 decision that;
- “…Only the Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor appears to meet all four objectives, …it is clear that the alternative corridors are not real alternatives to the Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor, in that only the latter fulfills all four objectives….”.
- “Environmental Assessment approval granted to overall Highway 89 – Ravenshoe Road Corridor.
MTO /Municipal Liaison (1986)
Affected Regional Council Chairs and Municipal Council Mayors passed a joint resolution expressing full confidence in the work MTO had done to address the outstanding EA Board requirements for the Hwy 89 project. They urged the Minister of Transportation to pursue final, full approval for this project from the board expeditiously. This request was apparently turned aside.
Highway 404 / 89 Overview Study (1989)
This study was conducted by the consulting firm, Cole Sherman. (McCormick Rankin did the Hwy 89 and Bradford Bypass studies). The study area covered essentially all of the South Lake Simcoe Basin. Cole Sherman confirmed the major out-of-the-way travel and Bradford / Newmarket congestion problems still existed. They recommended extension of Hwy 404 to create a northern route around the eastern side of Lake Simcoe and confirmed the need for an east / west facility to connect highways 400 with their proposed extension of highway 404. Cole Sherman’s travel demand analysis found that most of the east – west travel demand in the area was for north – south commuter travel to the GTA.
Bradford Bypass EA Study 1993 – 1997
The 1993 Environmental Assessment Study Proposal was so badly done that it was substantially re-written and re-issued in 1994. No proper answers were ever given for the following questions amongst others:
- Why did MTO choose this highly restricted study corridor?
- Why is this essentially in the Queensville Sideroad corridor considering that The Environmental Assessment Review Board had already ruled that it did not address the transportation needs in the South Lake Simcoe Basin?
- Why is this suddenly a controlled access freeway? How can this be justified?
- Why is MTO refusing to consider the previous Highway 89 Extension EAS route even though they acknowledge that it is less environmentally intrusive?