Ontario Highway 3

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Highway 3 shield

Highway 3
Talbot Trail
Location of Highway 3 in Southern Ontario
     Current route      Former route
Route information
Length: 407.3 km[1] (253.1 mi)
Includes two gaps of 145.0 km (90.1 mi) and 3.4 km (2.1 mi)
Existed: August 4, 1920 – present
Section 1
Length: 49.9 km (31.0 mi)
West end: Ambassador Bridge to I‑75 / I‑96 in Detroit, Michigan
 Highway 401 – Windsor
East end:  Highway 77 near Leamington
Section 2
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:  Highway 58 in Port Colborne
Section 3
Length: 21.1 km (13.1 mi)
West end:  Highway 140 in Port Colborne
East end: Rosehill Rd. in Fort Erie
Major cities: Windsor, St. Thomas, Port Colborne
Towns: Leamington, Tillsonburg, Simcoe, Dunnville, Fort Erie
Villages: Delhi, Jarvis, Cayuga
Highway system
←  Highway 2   Highway 4  →

King's Highway 3, commonly referred to as Highway 3 and historically as the Talbot Trail, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario which travels parallel to the shore of Lake Erie. It has three segments, the first of which runs from the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor to Highway 77 in Leamington. The second portion begins at Talbotville Royal outside of St. Thomas, 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. From there the highway is mostly straight, passing the Niagara Speedway in the village of Gasline. Its third and final terminus is at Edgewood Park, near the Fort Erie boundary. From there, the road continues under local jurisdiction to the Peace Bridge, where drivers can return to the United States

The total length of Highway 3 is 261.0 km (162.2 mi), consisting of 50.8 km (31.6 mi) from Windsor to Leamington, 168.1 km (104.5 mi) from Talbotville Royal to Port Colborne and 42.1 km (26.2 mi) from Port Colborne to Edgewood Park. Most of the highway follows the historic Talbot Trail, a settlement trail following the northern shore of Lake Erie. Highway 3 is a two-lane freeway from Wellington Road to Centennial Road in St. Thomas. In Windsor, Highway 3 carries a large amount of truck traffic, as it is the only direct link between Highway 401 and the Ambassador Bridge. Another 2-lane freeway segment of Highway 3 runs between Talbot Rd. near Essex to Talbot Rd. near Leamington.

For a while after the portion between Leamington and St. Thomas was downloaded, the Ministry of Transportation had considered renaming the Windsor-Leamington segment of Highway 3 as Highway 103 (a previous designation to an old routing of Highway 69 in Muskoka in the 1970s before Highway 400 was extended through the area).[citation needed]

Route description[edit]

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 from Windsor to Leamington. From there, a 145 km (90 mi) gap separates the western and central sections. Highway 3 resumes near St. Thomas at the southern end of Highway 4 and travels 188 km (117 mi) east to Port Colborne. The central and eastern sections are divided by a 4.1 km (2.5 mi) connecting link through Port Colborne. The eastern section begins at Highway 140 and travels 21.3 km (13.2 mi) to Fort Erie. It ends at Rosehill Road, a short distance west of the Peace Bridge crossing into New York.

Western segment[edit]

The western segment of Highway 3 begins at the Ambassador Bridge, connecting Canada with the United States over the Detroit River. The Highway travels south-east through Windsor along Huron Church Road and curves east to meet the western end of Highway 401.

Central segment[edit]

188 km (117 mi)

Eastern segment[edit]

21 km (13 mi) starts at Highway 140, and ends at Rosehill Road.

Connections with the United States[edit]

Highway 3 was the only Ontario provincial highway to start and end at bridges (the Ambassador leading into Detroit, Michigan and the Peace 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 Lake Erie dips south along Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. After the 1954 New York State Thruway opened from Buffalo to New York City,[2] Michigan officials had encouraged Ontario to replace Highway 3 with a turnpike from Detroit to Buffalo.[3]

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 the 403 freeway opened in August 1997,[4] leaving just a local section of Highway 3 on Windsor surface streets as a bottleneck to be bypassed by the New International Trade Crossing to Detroit in 2020.[5]

When the Michigan Department of Transportation discontinued US 25 in 1973, much of it 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.


Talbot Trail[edit]

The history of Highway 3 dates back over 200 years to the pioneering settlement era of Upper Canada. 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.[6] 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.[6][7]

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 in 1804; however, funding shortages would halt construction in 1806.[8] 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."[7] Burwell began this work in 1809 westward from Delhi.[9] 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.[9]

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.[7] 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 Fort Erie.[10]

Provincial Highway Network[edit]

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.[11] The majority of what would soon become Highway 3 was designated several months later in August.[12] However, it would not receive a route number until the summer of 1925.[13]

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. The final major change were 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.[14] 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.[15]

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 Niagara County road between Wainfleet (then known as Marshville) and Fort Erie on May 11, 1927. This roadway was designated as Highway 3A.[16][17] The following year it was surfaced with concrete and a new bridge built over the Welland Canal in Port Colborne.[18] The new route became so popular that in 1929, the Highway 3 and Highway 3A designations were swapped.[14]

Essex By-Pass[edit]

The Essex By-Pass (Current Highway 3) was built in stages, from 1971 to 1982. The first stage was to just south of Essex, where it was routed along Malden Road to its former alignment (Now Essex County Road 34). It was extended to Ruthven in 1981, and then routed around Leamington in 1997 as the "Leamington Bypass". Although the Leamington Bypass was constructed by the Ministry of Transportation, the 1.1 km segment east of Highway 77 to County Road 34 was never a part of the provincial network, or a part of Highway 3. It has been signed as County Road 33, as Leamington is planning to link up the two discontinuous segments of CR 33 with an "East Side Arterial Road".


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 Highway 3's upgrades. 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.

Major intersections[edit]

The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 3, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.[1] 

Division Location km[1] mi Destinations Notes
Essex Windsor 0.0 0.0 Sandwich Street / Riverside Drive Beginning of Windsor Connecting Link agreement; access to Ambassador Bridge border crossing
WindsorLa Salle boundary 6.7 4.2  County Road 6 (Todd Lane) End of Windsor Connecting Link agreement
10.3 6.4  County Road 9 (Howard Avenue)
Tecumseh 11.2 7.0  Highway 401 east – London, Toronto
13.4 8.3  County Road 11 (Walker Road)
18.4 11.4  County Road 34 (Talbot Road)
21.2 13.2  County Road 19 (Manning Road)
28.1 17.5  County Road 23 (Arner Townline Road)
34.3 21.3  County Road 27 (Cottam Sideroad)
37.3 23.2  County Road 29 (Division Road)
40.6 25.2  County Road 18
43.9 27.3 County Road 34E (Union Avenue)
46.4 28.8  County Road 31 (Albuna Townline Road)
49.9 31.0  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 194.9 121.1  Highway 4 north (Sunset Road) – London
Central Elgin 198.6 123.4 County Road 25 (Wellington Road) Beginning of St. Thomas Expressway
St. Thomas 202.2 125.6 First Avenue Sole interchange along expressway
204.5 127.1 Centennial Road End of St. Thomas Expressway
205.7 127.8 Talbot Street (west) / Talbot Line (east)
Centennial Road (north) / County Road 28 south
Traffic must turn to remain on Highway 3
Malahide 210.8 131.0 County Road 74
Aylmer 217.9 135.4 Aylmer western limits; beginning of Connecting Link agreement
220.2 136.8 End of Connecting Link agreement
Bayham 227.4 141.3 Carter Road
234.3 145.6 County Road 44 (Eden Road)
Oxford Tillsonburg 241.8 150.2 Elgin RR Crossing
243.9 151.6  Highway 19 (Vienna Street)
Norfolk County Highway 19
Norfolk   246.7 153.3 Simcoe Street
Courtland 250.5 155.7 Haldimand-Norfolk Road 59/13
251.7 156.4 County Road 38 south (Talbot Street)
Delhi 261.8 162.7 County Road 59 north
Big Creek Drive south
262.4 163.0 Talbot Road Beginning of Delhi Connecting Link agreement
264.5 164.4 Wilson Avenue End of Delhi Connecting Link agreement
Gilbertville 266.3 165.5 County Road 46 (Pinegrove Road)
  273.5 169.9 County Road 25 (Nixon Road) – Nixon
Simcoe 280.7 174.4  Highway 24 Simcoe Connecting Link agreement
Renton 288.1 179.0 County Road 5
Haldimand Jarvis 297.5 184.9  Highway 6 Jarvis Connecting Link agreement
Nelles Corners 312.1 193.9 County Road 20
Cayuga 320.2 199.0 Ouse Street / Grand River bridge Beginning of Cayuga Connecting Link agreement
320.6 199.2 Road 54 Formerly Highway 54
321.5 199.8 Monture Street End of Cayuga Connecting Link agreement
  328.0 203.8 Road 56 Formerly Highway 56
Dunnville 345.2 214.5 County Road 17
346.5 215.3 County Road 15 (Robinson Road) Beginning of Dunnville Connecting Link agreement
351.2 218.2 Inman Road End of Dunnville Connecting Link agreement
Niagara Chambers Corners 369.4 229.5  Regional Road 24 north
 Regional Road 23 east
Highway 3 turns south
Wainfleet 371.8 231.0 Feeder Road
Ostryhon Corners 375.8 233.5  Regional Road 3
378.2 235.0 Regional Road 30 (Golf Course Road)
Port Colborne 381.6 237.1  Regional Road 5 east (Killaly Street West)
382.7 237.8  Highway 58 north (West Side Road)
Highway 3 is discontinuous for 3.4 km (2.1 mi) between Highway 58 and Highway 140
386.2 240.0  Highway 140 north – Welland
390.6 242.7  Regional Road 5 west (Killaly Street East)
393.7 244.6 Neff Road north
Sherkston Road south – Sherkston
Fort Erie 401.0 249.2  Regional Road 116 (Gorham Road) – Ridgeway, Stevensville
402.1 249.9 Ridge Road
407.3 253.1 Rose Hill Road
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (2008). "Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts". Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Dales, Douglas (June 20, 1954). "Across The Map". The New York Times. pp. XX21. 
  3. ^ "Toll Highways considered by Ontario". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. The Canadian Press. January 12, 1955. p. 26. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Highway 403 extension opens Friday". The Toronto Star. August 15, 1997. Retrieved June 28, 2010. 
  5. ^ Dave Battagello (2013-04-12). "New Detroit crossing seven years away". Windsor Star. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  6. ^ a b "Colonel Thomas Talbot". Elgin County. Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Shragge 1984, pp. 27–29.
  8. ^ "Original Talbot Road". Heron Trips. Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Brown 2009, p. 175.
  10. ^ May, Gary (September 2010). "You'll Love this Lakefront Trail! History, Scenery Abound on Road Col. Thomas Talbot Built". MyNewWaterfrontHome.com. Retrieved August 27, 2012. 
  11. ^ Shragge 1984, pp. 73–75.
  12. ^ Annual Report (Report). Department of Public Highways. March 31, 1921. pp. 40–45. 
  13. ^ "Provincial Highways Now Being Numbered". The Canadian Engineer (Monetary Times Print) 49 (8): 246. August 25, 1925. Numbering of the various provincial highways in Ontario has been commenced by the Department of Public Highways. Resident engineers are now receiving metal numbers to be placed on poles along the provincial highways. These numbers will also be placed on poles throughout cities, towns and villages, and motorists should then have no trouble in finding their way in and out of urban municipalities. Road designations from "2" to "17" have already been alloted... 
  14. ^ a b "System of the King's Highways". Annual Report (Report). Department of Public Highways. March 31, 1930. p. 14. 
  15. ^ Stamp 1987, p. 37.
  16. ^ "System of the King's Highways". Annual Report (Report). Department of Public Highways. March 31, 1928. p. 14. 
  17. ^ "Appendix 6: Schedule of Assumptions and Reversions of Sections". Annual Report (Report). Department of Public Highways. March 31, 1928. p. 60. 
  18. ^ Stamp 1992, p. 87.

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing