03/03/2016 18:31 EST | Updated 03/04/2017 00:12 EST

Ontario 'moving forward' with plans to extend Highway 427 to Vaughan: minister

The Ontario government has asked three companies to submit proposals to extend Highway 427 from Highway 7 north of Toronto to Major Mackenzie Drive in Vaughan.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said Thursday the three short-listed companies are expected to explain how they would "design, build and finance" the project. The winner of the bid will be announced early next year.

"Our government is moving forward with extending Highway 427, creating jobs and opportunities for residents and businesses living and working in the region," he said in Vaughan.

Del Duca said the project would help to "manage" congestion in the Greater Toronto Area.

"The proposals will also include how the companies will maintain the section of the highway for a 30-year period," he said. "The successful proponent will be announced ... in early 2017 with construction expected to begin that year."

Del Duca said the extension is expected to be open to traffic in 2020.

Project includes widening highway

Part of the Highway 427 extension project includes widening the highway for about four kilometres, from south of Albion Road to Highway 7, and building high occupancy toll lanes (HOT) on the highway for about 15.5 kilometres. 

Del Duca said that stretch of HOT lanes would have electronic tolling in both directions, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road. 

The HOT lanes are expected to open in 2021.

The three short-listed companies are: Blackbird Infrastructure Group, 427 Link-PAW and Link 427-AM. The cost of the project is expected to be announced in 2017.

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua said the Highway 427 extension will help Vaughan grow as a city.

"The completion of this new transportation route will greatly improve the flow of goods and services, and provide a new connection for our citizens and businesses," he said.