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Highway 400-404 Connecting Link

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2019 Provincial Update

On August 15, 2019, York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney announced in the media that the Province will be moving forward with the Highway 400 –Highway 404 Connecting Link.

"On behalf of Council I extend thanks to the Province for recommitting to this project and recognizing the importance of the Connecting Link," said Mayor Virginia Hackson. "This key piece of infrastructure will not only improve east-west connectivity in northern York Region but it will also greatly assist with alleviating congestion on our residential streets. We look forward to the next steps in this exciting project."

The next step involves updating the 2002 Environmental Assessment and Transportation Environmental Study Report, which will describe the impacts and mitigation measures for the project, confirm the preferred design, and estimate the total project cost.

No commitments have been made on the timeline for construction to begin, but staff will continue to monitor any announcements and share them with the public as they occur.

What is the Highway 400–404 Connecting Link?


The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link is a proposed 16.2 kilometre, four-lane controlled access highway that will provide an east-west connection between Highway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Highway 404 in the Town of East Gwillimbury.  The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link is intended to alleviate congestion on east-west corridors across the Holland Marsh and to provide an alternative path from eastern Toronto and eastern Greater Toronto Area to Barrie and the rest of the Simcoe area. The Connecting Link would provide a key link between the Simcoe Area and York Region and would aid in economic development of the Simcoe Area and York Region.
There would be proposed interchanges for the Connecting Link from Bathurst Street, Leslie Street and Yonge Street.

Why is the 400–404 Connecting Link needed?

The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link would reduce congestion, provide a significantly improved connection between York Region and Simcoe Area and make it easier to divert traffic between these roads when incidents occur. It would support a wide variety of travel for  commuters, transit, tourists and freight.
The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link is needed to help:

  • Increase travel options for residents and divert inter-regional travel around core urban/settlement areas – reducing congestion, carbon dioxide emissions, traffic accidents, property damage and health costs
  • Provide opportunities for high occupancy vehicle and dedicated transit lanes
  • Improve the movement of goods, grow and retain business investments and create new investment opportunities – the movement of goods plays a major role in the Region’s economy, generating large revenues and hundreds of thousands of jobs

Projections show the Connecting Link will be heavily used in 2041, with 3,700 vehicles travelling in the peak direction during morning rush hour. Although currently planned as a four-lane highway, projections indicate a six-lane highway may be required by 2041.

population graph

The provincial Growth Plan forecasts population and employment growth for York Region from 1.1 million people in 2014 to 1.79 million in 2041 and for Simcoe County to grow from 461,000 in 2011 to 796,000 in 2041. Employment will also grow in York Region from 565,000 in 2014 to 900,000 jobs in 2041 and in Simcoe County from 195,000 in 2011 to 304,000 in 2041.


Traffic and congestion remain key concerns for residents and businesses. Addressing these concerns is a top priority to ensure our communities continue to be places where people and businesses want to locate.

An east-west connection between Highway 400 and Highway 404 would reduce the demand on Regional, County and local roadways, enhance travel options and support employment opportunities in and around the surrounding communities.

 Both York Region and Simcoe County provide major transportation corridors accommodating auto, transit, bicycle and pedestrian travel. These corridors provide travel across cities and towns and connect with regional transportation systems. While the Region and County are committed to building complete communities where residents can live, work and meet their basic needs, visitors and workers must also have multiple options of travel to key destinations. The following facts demonstrate this approach:

  • Considering modes of transportation (transit, carpooling, walking and cycling) when designing new roads
  • Meeting or exceeding Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards on all new road projects and major repair projects including intersections 
  • Designing and implementing streets that allow safe access for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities
  • Creating dedicated bike lanes and innovative bike boxes, where appropriate, to allow cyclists increased safety
  • Implementing the Simcoe County Trails Strategy by creating a world-class network of multi-purpose trails that connects communities while providing links to natural, cultural and tourism assets
  • Completing the Lake to Lake cycling route and walking trail, an on-road and off-road trail from Lake Simcoe at the northern edge of York Region through the City of Toronto to Lake Ontario in the south

Ensuring ongoing economic sustainability 

The Connecting Link is key to supporting growing economic development, specifically in the Towns of Georgina, East Gwillimbury, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.

In northern York Region and southern Simcoe County, the Connecting Link is critical to reducing travel demand, improving life/work ratios and growing economic areas that drive the Canadian economy. Many companies are attracted to lands close to highways that allow the convenient movement of goods and easy access for employees.

Since completion of Simcoe County’s Transportation Master Plan in 2008, the County and its local municipalities continue to experience growth in employment and tourism, as well as seasonal and year-round residents. The number of commercial vehicles travelling in the area continues to grow. In Simcoe County, the largest forecasted commercial vehicle growth is expected in the minerals, manufacturing, food and automotive commodity sectors. This correlates with the existence of quarries and manufacturing plants in the County, including the Honda plant in Alliston.
sector growth graph

Fifty per cent of York Region residents commute to other regions for work. York Region residents have some of the longest commute times and distances in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. By providing attractive spaces for economic development and convenient transportation opportunities, commute times and distances are reduced as residents find opportunities to live close to their work. York Region is committed to continued creation of communities where people want to work and live, reducing traffic on our roads and improving overall quality of life. Increasing attractiveness of planned and potential future employment areas is key to success in this regard, as a vibrant and qualified labour force live in these areas and currently commute to other areas. 

In Simcoe County, an important indicator of long-term growth opportunities is the relationship between the number of jobs and the number of resident workers. Data from 2006 indicated the number of resident workers in the Simcoe area, 142,540, far exceeded the number of available jobs of 83,525. This means a significant number of Simcoe County residents also commute outside of the Simcoe area for employment.


The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link has been in discussion before, appearing in the 2002 Simcoe Area Transportation Network Needs Assessment, York Region’s Official Plans, Simcoe County Official Plan and the Ministry of Transportation Simcoe Area Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy.

A provincial environmental assessment was approved by Cabinet in 2002.


project history


traffic photo

A number of successful Provincial projects are improving travel in the area. The completion of the Highway 404 extension from Green Lane to Ravenshoe Road (which now carries up to 50,000 vehicles daily), ongoing projects such as bus rapid transit, as well as plans for Regional Express Rail and the Highway 427 extension are a few examples.

Moving goods and people efficiently is a priority for all levels of government and York Region and Simcoe County are pleased to continue working together to find new ways to plan for transportation to address current congestion, new trends and technologies and future growth.

York Region and Simcoe County are also taking steps to change behaviours and enhance its current road network. One area of improvement York Region is working towards is refining its grid and reducing the number of barriers in its roadways to minimize the stress on main corridors. To achieve this objective, it is increasing the number of roads going east-west, such as roads crossing over Highway 404 and 400.

Growth will continue, however, without additional support to the road network to maximize what is already underway, and congestion will continue to adversely affect the way goods and people move. The Highway 400–404 Connecting Link is vital to improving connections, especially east-west travel, resulting in improved transport time connecting suppliers and manufacturers between York and Simcoe, as well as reducing traffic on already congested arterial roadways.

The Connecting Link is considered easy to implement as it is already an Environmental Assessment-approved new corridor, and the corridor has a protected right-of-way. Both York Region and Simcoe County support the new highway. 

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Connecting Link announced as part of province's Growth Plan

Congestion relief for East Gwillimbury is now in the province’s updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The updated Growth Plan outlines the need for a “Highway Extension” to connect Highways 400 and 404 to support growth in the area. The Plan was released May 18, 2017, after two years of public consultation.

A significant public movement was organized in 2016 by the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, East Gwillimbury, York Region and the County of Simcoe as well as surrounding municipalities to garner support and public feedback for the province in hopes that the Connecting Link would be added to the Growth Plan.

“This is a great success for everyone involved. We have been lobbying for this core piece of infrastructure for many years,” said Mayor Virginia Hackson. “Thanks to the power of our municipal partnerships, the province has recognized the need for the Connecting Link to help alleviate congestion as we grow.”

The Connecting Link will improve east-west connectivity through East Gwillimbury and Bradford West Gwillimbury by providing an alternative path for those travelling from the eastern Greater Toronto area to Highway 400. The updated Growth Plan does not outline timelines for construction. A provincial environmental assessment has already been undertaken and approved.

 “We will continue to work with the province and our local municipal and regional partners to ensure that this critical piece of infrastructure continues to move forward to keep our residents and businesses moving,” Mayor Virginia Hackson promises.