York Region has broken ground on a new roadway to better connect Markham and Richmond Hill.
The region kickstarted the massive project Sept. 19, which will see a new road connecting Orlando Avenue in Richmond Hill to Markland Street in Markham. The new four-lane road will go over Highway 404 and Rouge River.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said roads like this are needed to address congestion.
“These midblock collectors as we call them, in reality, are really valves that release the pressure from our arterial roads,” he said. “We know already that many of our roads in the region, and certainly connecting us to the rest of the GTA, are at capacity or worse and we need this type of investment to improve the transportation network.”
Construction on the road will begin this summer, with an expected completion date of fall 2025. The road built in partnership with the region, Richmond Hill, Markham and the Ministry of Transportation will include a bridge, multi-use sidewalks and pathways, along with native trees and plants.
Richmond Hill Mayor David West said partnerships between governments like this are important.
“This new connection between our two municipalities will accommodate growth,” he said, adding that reducing pressure off local roads will “make travel in our area much easier.”
Scarpitti recounted the history of the project, with a transportation plan highlighting projects like this back in 2012. He said the decision-making of prior municipal councils to stall environmental assessments to allow roads like this to go ahead has hurt the city.
“It really did set us back years in terms of road construction,” Scarpitti said, adding that the current council is going the other direction now. “We have put our attention and focus on improving the transportation network.”
During the construction of this new road, the Ministry of Transportation will also be making improvements to Highway 404 and the surrounding area.
The region said some lane reductions may be required for construction during off-peak hours. More information is available on the regional website.
York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson said the region recognizes the importance of crossings like this.
“Year after year, our residents identified access to safe and reliable transportation options as a top priority,” he said. “Which is why York Region council continues to make historic investments in our regional transportation system.”