Ontario Highway 3
Location of Highway 3 in Southern Ontario
Current route Former route 400-series highways
|Length:||407.6 km (253.3 mi)
Includes two gaps of 145.0 km (90.1 mi) and 3.4 km (2.1 mi)
|Existed:||August 4, 1920 – present|
|Length:||50.2 km (31.2 mi)|
|West end:||Ambassador Bridge to I‑75 / I‑96 in Detroit, Michigan|
|Highway 401 – Windsor|
|East end:||Highway 77 near Leamington|
|Length:||187.9 km (116.8 mi)|
|West end:||Highway 4 near St. Thomas|
| Highway 19 near Tillsonburg
Highway 24 in Norfolk
Highway 6 in Jarvis
|East end:||Townline Road at Wainfleet–Port Colborne boundary|
|Length:||21.1 km (13.1 mi)|
|West end:||Highway 140 in Port Colborne|
|East end:||Rosehill Road in Fort Erie|
|Major cities:||Windsor, St. Thomas, Port Colborne|
|Towns:||Leamington, Tillsonburg, Simcoe, Dunnville, Fort Erie|
|Villages:||Delhi, Jarvis, Cayuga|
King's Highway 3, commonly referred to as Highway 3, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario which travels parallel to the northern shoreline of Lake Erie. It has three segments, the first of which travels from the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor to Highway 77 in Leamington. The second portion begins at Talbotville Royal outside of St. Thomas at Highway 4, and travels to the western city limits of Port Colborne. The road is regionally maintained within Port Colborne as Niagara Regional Road 3, but regains its provincial designation at Highway 140. Its third and final terminus is at Edgewood Park, within the Fort Erie town limits. From there, the road continues as Niagara Regional Road 3 to the Peace Bridge, where drivers can cross to the United States. The total length of Highway 3 is 259.2 km (161.1 mi), consisting of 50.2 km (31.2 mi) from Windsor to Leamington, 187.9 km (116.8 mi) from Talbotville Royal to Port Colborne and 21.1 km (13.1 mi) from Port Colborne to Edgewood Park.
Until the 1990s, Highway 3 was a single continuous route from the Ambassador Bridge to near the Peace Bridge, but since then has had significant portion transferred to regional and county governments. A large segment of the route follows the historic Talbot Trail, a settlement road following the northern shore of Lake Erie constructed by Colonel Talbot in the early 1800s as part of a grand settlement plan along the lake front. East of Canborough, the road generally follows older settlement trails: Forks Road, connecting Dunnville with Wainfleet, portions of Sherk's Road, through Port Colborne to Gasline, and the Garrison Road, a military road built west from Fort Erie. The highway was initially designated in 1920, but not numbered until five years later. It originally connected to Niagara Falls, but was rerouted to Fort Erie following completion of the Peace Bridge in the late 1920s. A portion of Highway 3 along Huron Church Road in Windsor is currently being reconstructed as part of the Windsor–Essex Parkway.
- 1 Route description
- 2 History
- 3 Future
- 4 Major intersections
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Highway 3 follows the route of the historic Talbot Trail for most of its length. Abutting the northern shore of Lake Erie between Windsor and Fort Erie, the route deviates in places to bypass towns and to avoid the less than direct trail laid nearly two centuries ago. Prior to 1998, the highway spanned this entire distance, but has since been divided into three discontinuous sections. The western section travels 50.2 km (31.2 mi) from Windsor to Leamington. From there, a 145.0 km (90.1 mi) gap separates the western and central sections. Highway 3 resumes near St. Thomas at the southern end of Highway 4 and travels 187.9 km (116.8 mi) east to Port Colborne. The central and eastern sections are divided by a 3.4 km (2.1 mi) Connecting Link through Port Colborne. The eastern section begins at Highway 140 and travels 21.1 km (13.1 mi) to Fort Erie. It ends at Rosehill Road, a short distance west of the Peace Bridge crossing into New York.
The western segment of Highway 3 begins at the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Canada with the U.S. state of Michigan over the Detroit River. The Highway travels southeast through Windsor along Huron Church Road and curves east to meet the western end of Highway 401. The section through Windsor to Cabana Road is maintained under a Connecting Link agreement. Between the E. C. Row Expressway and Highway 401, construction is ongoing as of 2015 on the Windsor–Essex Parkway, which will displace Highway 3 from its former alignment. At Essex County Road 11, Highway 3 enters rural southwestern Ontario, and is dominated by farmland for much of its length through Essex County. The route becomes briefly divided as it follows the Essex Bypass around the southern edge of Essex, with commercial services lining the highway, primarily on the north side. Returning to farmland, the highway continues southeast, passing nearby, but avoiding, several small communities that the original highway travelled through. After passing Essex County Road 18, the route curves eastward, passing north of Ruthven before entering Leamington along its northern fringe. The western section ends at the southern terminus of Highway 77, where the provincially built but county maintained Leamington Bypass continues east to meet the Talbot Road just east of the town.
The central segment is the longest of the three sections, at 187.9 km (116.8 mi). It begins at the southern terminus of Highway 4 at Talbotville Royal in Elgin County, just northwest of St. Thomas and south of London. The route travels east into St. Thomas, becoming a two-laned expressway aptly named the St. Thomas Expressway. This expressway begins at Wellington Road (Elgin County Road 25 / 26) and travels through St. Thomas to Centennial Road, and features a single interchange. However, the right-of-way is wide enough to accommodate any future upgrade to a divided expressway. At the eastern end, Highway 3 turns south onto Centennial Road and then east onto Talbot Line, following the historic Talbot Trail to east of Aylmer. This mostly straight and rural portion passes through several small villages before the Talbot Trail splits from it to follow Elgin/Norfolk County Road 38 through Straffordville. Highway 3 meanwhile curves northeast and passes through Tillsonburg, encountering Highway 19. It then curves east and travels parallel to the St. Thomas and Eastern Railway to Courtland, remerging with the Talbot Trail and meandering towards Delhi, now within Norfolk County.
At Delhi, Highway 3 turns south for 4 km (2.5 mi) before returning to its eastward orientation. It continues through farmland to the town of Simcoe, where it meets Highway 24. From Simcoe to Canborough, the highway is nearly straight as an arrow, with an occasional jog to the northeast. It enters Haldimand County and intersects Highway 6 in Jarvis. At Cayuga it crosses the Grand River; until 2014, a five-span steel girder bridge crossed the river, but it has since been replaced by a concrete structure. At Canborough, the historic Talbot Trail ends and Highway 3 veers south to Dunnville, briefly travelling along the northern bank of the Grand River and gradually curving back eastward. East of Dunnville, the route follows Forks Road into Wainfleet and the Niagara Region. At Chambers Corners it turns south and passes through Wainfleet village, crossing the old Feeder Canal which once supplied the Welland Canal with water from the Grand River. Just north of Lake Erie, Highway 3 turns east and travels straight towards Port Colborne, passing just south of the Wainfleet Bog. At Townline Road, the boundary between Wainfleet and Port Colborne, the central section ends and the roadway continues as Niagara Regional Road 3 through the city, meeting the southern end of Highway 58.
Portions of the central segment of Highway 3 through several towns are maintained under Connecting Link agreements, including within Aylmer, Delhi, Simcoe, Cayuga and Dunnville. The combined length of these segments is 15.9 kilometres (9.9 mi).
The final and shortest section of Highway 3 begins at Highway 140 on the eastern fringe of Port Colborne and lies entirely within Niagara Region. The 21.1 km (13.1 mi) segment travels several kilometres inland to Lake Erie, as well as parallel to it. From there it mostly travels along a straight line eastward through generally rural areas. The notable exception is the village of Gasline, where the Niagara Speedway stands on the northern side of the highway. At the Fort Erie boundary, the route jogs northeast briefly to align with the old Garrison Road. As the highway progresses eastward into the town, the surroundings gradually become more urbanized before it ends at Rosehill Road. The roadway continues east through Fort Erie to the foot of the Peace Bridge as Niagara Regional Road 3, connecting with the Queen Elizabeth Way to provide access to the United States.
Connections with the United States
Highway 3 was the only Ontario provincial highway to start and end at bridges (the Ambassador Bridge leading into Detroit, Michigan and the Peace Bridge leading into Buffalo, New York) with both termini at international crossings. A quick link from Chicago, Toledo, and Detroit to Buffalo and Western New York, Highway 3 was shorter and more direct than any American route (including Interstate 90), because the Lake Erie shoreline dips south along Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. After the 1954 New York State Thruway opened from Buffalo to New York City, Michigan officials had encouraged Ontario to replace Highway 3 with a turnpike from Detroit to Buffalo.
Highway 3 has been largely replaced as a Detroit–Buffalo truck route by Highway 401, Highway 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way. The last section of Highway 403 opened in August 1997, leaving just a local section of Highway 3 on Windsor surface streets as a bottleneck to be bypassed by the Windsor–Essex Parkway and New International Trade Crossing to Detroit in 2020.
When the Michigan Department of Transportation discontinued US 25 in 1973, much of it through Detroit was redesignated as M-3, whose southern terminus came at Clark Street in Detroit, at the junction of I-75 by the Ambassador Bridge. This provided a connection between Michigan's M-3 and Ontario's Highway 3 until 2001, when jurisdictional changes within downtown Detroit created a discontinuous segment of M-3, and this international Route 3 connection was lost when the portion of M-3 along Fort Street was redesignated M-85.
The history of Highway 3 dates back over 200 years to the pioneering settlement era of Upper Canada following the American Revolution and the resulting influx of United Empire Loyalists. Thomas Talbot, an influential scion who joined the British army at the age of 11, would challenge the government, the terrain, and the forces of nature to see to it that his road be built. Due to his family legacy, Talbot worked through the ranks quickly and found himself a personal aide to John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. He returned to England after Simcoe fell ill, but vowed to return to the hinterland he had come to love.
After completing his military commission, Talbot returned to Upper Canada in 1801 at the age of 30. Although Simcoe had promised Talbot 5,000 acres (20,000,000 m2) of land in Yarmouth Township on the shoreline of Lake Erie, he had not made it official. Talbot returned to England in 1802 and spoke to the legislature, promoting his concept of a vibrant farming settlement. The government granted Talbot his land and promised an additional 200 acres (810,000 m2) for each family that settled a 50 acre lot in the original grant. Talbot returned to Upper Canada in 1803 with four families and a letter from Lord Hobart authorizing his grant, and established what is now the town of Port Stanley. Wishing to expand his grant and create his ideal colony, Talbot sought out new settlers; a road was required.
Talbot received a grant of $250 in September 1804 for the construction of a road between Brantford and Delhi. John Bostwick would survey the route that year; however, funding shortages would halt construction in 1806. Talbot approached the new Lieutenant Governor – Francis Gore – in 1808 with the intent of persuading him to fund the building of the road. He insisted that a road would increase the value of the land in the surrounding townships, as well as providing a greater incentive for newcomers to settle in what was otherwise a desolate wilderness. Gore instructed deputy surveyor Mahlon Burwell to "Build a road one chain wide, laid out on the principle of Yonge Street with lots on each side." Burwell began this work in 1809 westward from Delhi. In 1811, he was tasked with surveying the West Talbot Road from Talbotville Royale to Amherstburg. By then, a road was already opened between Port Talbot and Talbotville Royale.
Construction of the new road proved far more difficult than first imagined. Workers followed an old Native American trail, wholly consumed by nature, between Delhi and Port Talbot. To get across the numerous swamps, felled trees were laid across the path to create a corduroy road, much to the chagrin of settlers. The outbreak of the War of 1812 would temporarily halt further construction. When it resumed in 1816, Talbot himself began directing the surveyor, ordering that the road remain on the highest ground possible. This led to an irregular and winding route between Aylmer and Delhi. By 1830, the corduroy logs had been removed and the road improved and extended from Amherstburg to Canborough.
East of Canborough, Highway 3 follows several early settlement trails: Forks Road between Dunnville and Chambers Corners, Sherk's Road through Port Colborne to Gasline, and the military Garrison Road through Fort Erie. These roads predate the land survey grid of concession roads and sidelines, which would be used by the provincial government to make Highway 3 a continuous route through the Niagara Peninsula where none previously existed.
Forks Road, a river road following Forks Creek, served to connect the Grand River at Dunnville with the Welland River west of Welland. Like many early roads in Upper Canada, it was built along a river bank. It can therefore be assumed that this trail was built prior to the completion of the Feeder Canal in 1832. Sherk's Road was built at the request of Elias Sherk (d. 1893) in 1858 to connect his house (the historic Danner House) with his and Michael Gondor's properties. The irregular road connected the Welland Canal at Humberstone (now Port Colborne) to the community of Ridgeway, where it met the west end of the Garrison Road. That road was built due to the threat of American attack to provide quick access from Fort Erie, and, like other military roads in Upper Canada (e.g. Dundas Street or Yonge Street), it travelled in a straight line, in this case parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline.
Provincial Highway Network
Until 1918, the majority of the major roads through southern Ontario formed part of the County Road System. The Department of Public Works and Highways paid up to 60% of the construction and maintenance costs for these roads, while the counties were responsible for the remaining 40%. In 1919, the federal government passed the Canada Highways Act, which provided $20,000,000 to provinces under the condition that they establish an official highway network; up to 40% of construction costs would be subsidized. The first network plan was approved on February 26, 1920, and included the Talbot Road. The majority of what would soon become Highway 3 was designated several months later in August. However, it would not receive a route number until the summer of 1925.
Four major changes to Highway 3 have taken place since the designation of the route in 1920. The first was an adjustment to the eastern terminus. The second was the Essex Bypass, built through the 1970s between Windsor and Leamington. The third was the St. Thomas Expressway, a Super two highway built in the late 1970s. The final major change was the provincial highway transfers conducted in 1997 and 1998 that resulted in two segments of Highway 3 being decommissioned: between Leamington and Talbotville Royale, and through Port Colborne.
Highway 3 originally ended at the Honeymoon Bridge in Niagara Falls; it continued east of Chambers Corners along Forks Road (Regional Road 23) rather than south through Wainfleet as it does today. It continued north through Welland and east along Lundys Lane. Highway 58 and Highway 20 would later follow portions of this route. As part of the "spirit of cooperation" that inundated Canada and the US following World War I, as well as to celebrate a century of peace, a new bridge was planned between Fort Erie and Buffalo alongside the international railway crossing. Construction began in 1925; the completed bridge opened to traffic on June 1, 1927. Two months later, on August 7, the bridge was formally dedicated as the Peace Bridge by US Vice President Charles Dawes, and Edward, Prince of Wales.
Traffic patterns quickly shifted to take advantage of the new crossing and the bypass of Niagara Falls that it provided. In foresight of this, the Department of Public Highways took control of a Welland County road between Chambers Corners and Fort Erie on May 11, 1927. This roadway, which followed a significant portion of Sherk's Road and the Garrison Road, in addition to a concession road built west from Port Colborne and north through Wainfleet village, was designated as Highway 3A. The following year it was surfaced with concrete and a new bridge built over the Welland Canal in Port Colborne. The new route became so popular that in 1929, the Highway 3 and Highway 3A designations were swapped.
Essex Bypass and St. Thomas Expressway
The Essex Bypass was opened in stages in the 1970s and early 1980s. Plans were completed in 1968 as part of a province-wide program to bypass small towns on busy provincial highways. The first stage, opened by 1972, began west of Maidstone and passed south of Essex, where it then routed along Malden Road to its former alignment (now Essex County Road 34). Construction of an eastward extension to Ruthven was underway by 1982, and completed by 1984, with the road following Union Road to the old alignment. A final extension, from Union Road north of Ruthven to past Highway 77 on the northern fringe of Leamington, was opened in early December 1999. Although the Leamington Bypass was constructed by the Ministry of Transportation, the 1.1 kilometres (0.68 mi) segment east of Highway 77 to County Road 34 (Talbot Road) was never a part of Highway 3 or the provincial highway network. It is signed as Essex County Road 33, as Leamington is planning to link up the two discontinuous segments of CR 33 with the East Side Arterial Road.
The St. Thomas expressway was built along the northern edge of that city beginning in 1974. It features six overpasses and a single interchange, at First Avenue. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on September 7, 1981 to officially open the new route, which bypassed the former Highway 3 alignment along Talbot Street and the short concurrency with Highway 4 (Sunset Drive). The bypass cost C$16.5 million to construct, and features a two-lane roadway with allotted space on the north side for a second two-lane roadway. Plans originally called for the expressway to extend further east to New Sarum and later even as far as Aylmer, but these have never materialized.
Downloads and changes since
Aside from the Essex Bypass and St. Thomas Expressway, Highway 3 remained generally unchanged between the 1930s and late 1990s. However, budget constraints brought on by a recession in the 1990s resulted in the Mike Harris provincial government forming the Who Does What? committee to determine cost-cutting measures in order to balance the budget after a deficit incurred by former premier Bob Rae. It was determined that many Ontario highways no longer serve long-distance traffic movement and should therefore be maintained by local or regional levels of government. The MTO consequently transferred many highways to lower levels of government in 1997 and 1998, removing a significant percentage of the provincial highway network. Despite once serving as one of the principal highways through southwestern Ontario, Highway 3 had been largely supplanted by Highway 401, the QEW and later Highway 403 as a through-route. As a result, a segment of the route paralleling Highway 401 between Leamington and Talbotville Royal was decommissioned on January 1, 1998 and transferred to Essex County, Chatham–Kent and Elgin County. It has since been designated as Essex County Road 34, Chatham–Kent Road 3 and Elgin County Road 3.
On March 15, 2007, the Windsor Star reported that the Ministry of Transportation had begun clearing shrubs and brush as part of Phase I of upgrades to Highway 3 through Essex County. Phase I is upgrading from the current divided highway segment in Maidstone at CR 34, to CR 8 in Essex, a distance of 6.9 km. Construction on the second carriageway (twinning) is expected to begin in "late summer of 2007". Phase I is projected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, and be finished by summer of 2008. The Ministry of Transportation still has to finalize the road design and find a construction contractor for the job, however. Traffic disruptions will be minimal, as the intersection with County Road 8 has already been upgraded and widened as a requirement. The divided road will have a grassed median. The total widening cost (Phases I, II, and III) is projected to cost $80,000,000 to build. Essex MPP Bruce Crozier has been pressuring the Ministry of Transportation to upgrade the bypass since it was first built in 1977. The section between Essex and Kingsville (the largest/longest stretch, Phase II) has not been finalized either, and depends on funding. The Environmental Assessment that was completed in 2006 has improvements in store for the highway, including planting shrubs and trees to replace those cut down.
Work is ongoing in Cayuga to install a new crossing over the Grand River, replacing the five-span steel structure that previously served traffic since 1924. The new concrete structure was opened to traffic on June 20, 2014, and the former structure was demolished after that. On November 4 and December 4 of that year, construction on the bridge was halted by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council on the claim that the structure impeded on land reserved for a towpath along the Grand River by the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. The remaining work includes a scheduled three-day closure during which the new bridge will be jacked 5 metres (16 ft) north to align with the former structure, as well as decorative work. Work is scheduled for completion in the autumn of 2015.
|Essex||Windsor||0.0||0.0||Sandwich Street / Riverside Drive||Beginning of Windsor Connecting Link agreement; access to Ambassador Bridge border crossing|
|Windsor–La Salle boundary||7.0||4.3||County Road 6 (Todd Lane (west) / Cabana Road West (east))||End of Windsor Connecting Link agreement|
|10.6||6.6||County Road 9 (Howard Avenue)|
|Tecumseh||11.5||7.1||Highway 401 east – London, Toronto|
|13.7||8.5||County Road 11 (Walker Road)|
|18.7||11.6||County Road 34 (Talbot Road)|
|21.5||13.4||County Road 19 (Manning Road)|
|28.4||17.6||County Road 23 (Arner Townline Road)|
|34.6||21.5||County Road 27 (Cottam Sideroad)|
|37.6||23.4||County Road 29 (Division Road)|
|40.9||25.4||County Road 18|
|44.2||27.5||County Road 34E (Union Avenue)|
|46.7||29.0||County Road 31 (Albuna Townline Road)|
|50.2||31.2|| Highway 77 north
County Road 33 east (Leamington Bypass)
|End of eastern segment of Highway 3|
|Highway 3 is discontinuous for 145.0 km (90.1 mi) between Leamington and Talbotville Royale|
|Elgin||Talbotville Royale||195.2||121.3||Highway 4 north (Sunset Road) – London|
|Central Elgin||198.9||123.6||County Road 25 (Wellington Road)||Beginning of St. Thomas Expressway|
|St. Thomas||202.5||125.8||First Avenue||Sole interchange along expressway|
|204.8||127.3||Centennial Road||End of St. Thomas Expressway|
|206.0||128.0||Talbot Street (west) / Talbot Line (east)
Centennial Road (north) / County Road 28 south
|Traffic must turn to remain on Highway 3|
|Malahide||211.1||131.2||County Road 74|
|Aylmer||218.2||135.6||Aylmer western limits; beginning of Connecting Link agreement|
|220.5||137.0||End of Connecting Link agreement|
|234.6||145.8||County Road 44 (Eden Road)|
|Oxford||Tillsonburg||242.1||150.4||Elgin RR Crossing|
|244.2||151.7|| Highway 19 (Vienna Street)
Norfolk County Highway 19
|Courtland||250.8||155.8||Haldimand-Norfolk Road 59/13|
|252.0||156.6||County Road 38 south (Talbot Street)|
|Delhi||262.1||162.9||County Road 59 north
Big Creek Drive south
|262.7||163.2||Talbot Road||Beginning of Delhi Connecting Link agreement|
|264.8||164.5||Wilson Avenue||End of Delhi Connecting Link agreement|
|Gilbertville||266.6||165.7||County Road 46 (Pinegrove Road)|
|273.8||170.1||County Road 25 (Nixon Road) – Nixon|
|Simcoe||281.0||174.6||Highway 24||Simcoe Connecting Link agreement|
|Renton||288.4||179.2||County Road 5|
|Haldimand||Jarvis||297.8||185.0||Highway 6||Jarvis Connecting Link agreement|
|Nelles Corners||312.4||194.1||County Road 20|
|Cayuga||320.5||199.1||Ouse Street / Grand River bridge||Beginning of Cayuga Connecting Link agreement|
|320.9||199.4||Haldimand County Highway 54||Formerly Highway 54|
|321.8||200.0||Monture Street||End of Cayuga Connecting Link agreement|
|328.3||204.0||Haldimand County Highway 56||Formerly Highway 56|
|Dunnville||345.5||214.7||County Road 17|
|346.8||215.5||County Road 15 (Robinson Road)||Beginning of Dunnville Connecting Link agreement|
|351.5||218.4||Inman Road||End of Dunnville Connecting Link agreement|
|Niagara||Chambers Corners||369.7||229.7|| Regional Road 24 north
Regional Road 23 east
|Highway 3 turns south|
|Ostryhon Corners||376.1||233.7||Regional Road 3|
|378.5||235.2||Regional Road 30 (Golf Course Road)|
|Wainfleet–Port Colborne boundary||383.1||238.0||Townline Road|
|Highway 3 is discontinuous for 3.4 km (2.1 mi) between Townline Road and Highway 140|
|Port Colborne||386.5||240.2||Highway 140 north – Welland|
|390.9||242.9||Regional Road 5 west (Killaly Street East)|
|394.0||244.8||Neff Road north
Sherkston Road south – Sherkston
|Fort Erie||401.3||249.4||Regional Road 116 (Gorham Road) – Ridgeway, Stevensville|
|407.6||253.3||Rosehill Road||Eastern end of Highway 3|
|413.2||256.8||Niagara Boulevard||Decommissioned on January 1, 1998, now known as Niagara Regional Road 3|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
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- Brown, Ron (2009). The Lake Erie Shore: Ontario's Forgotten South Coast. Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55488-388-2. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Shragge, John; Bagnato, Sharon (1984). From Footpaths to Freeways. Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Historical Committee. ISBN 0-7743-9388-2.
- Stamp, Robert M. (1987). QEW – Canada's First Superhighway. The Boston Mills Press. ISBN 0-919783-84-8.
- Stamp, Robert M. (1992). Bridging the Border: Structures of Canadian–American Relations. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-074-9.
Route map: Bing