Ontario Highway 69

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Highway 69 shield Trans-Canada Highway shield

Highway 69
Trans-Canada Highway
Route information
Maintained by The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Length: 162 km[2] (101 mi)
Existed: August 5, 1936[1] – present
Major junctions
South end:  Highway 400 near Carling (north of exit 241)
North end:  Highway 17 in Sudbury
Highway system
Current highways
←  Highway 67   Highway 71  →
Former highways
←  Highway 68   Highway 70  →

King's Highway 69, commonly referred to as Highway 69, is a major north–south highway in the central portion of the Canadian province of Ontario, linking Highway 400 north of Parry Sound with the city of Greater Sudbury at Highway 17.

From its northerly terminus at Sudbury, the highway follows a wide urban arterial route for several kilometres before widening into a full freeway south of Crown Ridge; as of August 2012, this freeway segment extends southerly for approximately 35 km to the Murdock River south of Highway 637. From there, the route narrows to a two-lane highway to its southerly terminus, located three kilometres north of Highway 559 at Carling. At this terminus, the roadway widens to four lanes and changes its designation to Highway 400. South of this point, various former alignments of Highway 69 remain in use as parts of Highway 400 or as county or local roads. The highway forms part of the Central Ontario route of the Trans-Canada Highway, which continues south along Highway 400.

Highway 69 was first designated in 1936 when the Department of Highways (DHO) assumed the Rama Road between Atherley and Washago. This short route was expanded the following year when the DHO merged with the Department of Northern Development and expanded the King's Highway network north of the Severn River. By the beginning of World War II, the route reached as far north as Britt; a separate segment connected the town of Burwash with Sudbury. However, the rationalization of labour and materials due to the war effort resulted in these two sections remaining separated until the mid-1950s.

In 1976, several reroutings and renumbering took place in the Muskoka area. As a result, the portion of Highway 69 between Brechin and Foot's Bay was renumbered as Highway 169, while the entirety of Highway 103 between Coldwater and Foot's Bay was renumbered as Highway 69. Until the 1980s, the highway extended through Sudbury to Capreol, but was then truncated at a junction with Highway 17's route through Sudbury along what is now Municipal Road 55; this portion was subsequently truncated again in 1995 upon the completion of the Southwest and Southeast Bypasses, onto which Highway 17 was rerouted. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Highway 400 was gradually pushed north to its current terminus by twinning Highway 69, gradually truncating the southern end of the Highway 69 route.

Route description[edit]

Highway 69 is a major highway serving the recreational areas surrounding Georgian Bay and the Thirty-Thousand Islands, as well as providing the westernmost fixed connection between southern and northern Ontario; Highway 6 is located further west but requires the use of a ferry service. The highway occupies the northern half of a corridor that connects to Toronto to Sudbury, with Highway 400 occupying the southern half. The route forms part of the Central Ontario route of the Trans-Canada Highway.

As of 2012, the highway begins just north of Exit 241 (Highway 559) on Highway 400. From here the route travels generally northward. Between Nobel and Sudbury, there are no large communities, although numerous small communities lie adjacent to the route, including Shawanaga, Pointe au Baril, Byng Inlet, Britt, Bigwood, Delamere and Estaire. South of Highway 637, the highway widens into a four-lane freeway extending most of the remaining distance to Sudbury, where the divided highway ends just south of Crown Ridge; from this point until the highway's final terminus in Sudbury, it remains a four-lane urban arterial road with a paved, rather than fully separated, median between the two carriageways.

Highway 69 bridge over the French River

The highway ends at an interchange with Highway 17 in Sudbury. North of the interchange, the roadway continues north into the urban core of Sudbury as Regent Street/Municipal Road 46.

History[edit]

Highway 69 has undergone several major changes during its existence, so much so that the first section designated has not been a King's Highway for 60 years and lay approximately 80 km (50 mi) from the current highway. In other places, a minor two lane gravel highway has gradually been upgraded to a four lane paved freeway. On August 5, 1936, the DHO assumed the Rama Road, connecting Highway 12 at Atherley with Highway 11 at Washago.[1] On March 31, 1937, the Department of Northern Development (DND) was merged into the DHO, allowing the latter to extend the provincial highway network north of the Severn River. Subsequently, through August 1937, Highway 69 was extended 77.75 mi (125.13 km) north to the Naiscoot River, midway between Pointe au Baril and Britt. This extension followed DND trunk routes to Nobel, where a munitions and aircraft factory would soon provide an instrumental role in the war effort. In the north, the road connecting Sudbury and Burwash was also assumed as Highway 69 on August 11. It was intended to connect these two segments over the next several years; however, the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 halted all non-essential construction due to the short supply of labour and materials.

Work resumed during the 1950s to bridge the 60 km (37 mi) gap between the two sections of highway. In 1954, a further 29 km (18 mi) of roadway north of Britt was assumed as Highway 69. That same year also saw the rerouting of the southern end of the highway; the southern end was moved east from Atherley to Brechin and the Rama Road decommissioned as a King's Highway. The new routing was longer, but gave the southern end of the highway a more significant purpose than as a bypass of Highway 11. The Rama Road has since been known as Simcoe County Road 44.

Once the war ended, construction resumed on Highway 69. Paving and extending the road continued, with the first gap (between Britt and Burwash) being closed in 1951. French River would be linked to the provincial roadway network in 1952. This allowed motorists to take a far more direct route between Severn River and Sudbury, by taking advantage of a detour (via Highway 535 and Highway 64, through the small communities of Hagar and Noëlville).

The biggest gap that remained on Highway 69 was between Alban and Burwash, but this was eventually eliminated from 1952 to 1955, when the road was finally completed to provide a third link from Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario (the other two being Highways 11 and 17).

Until Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury was completed, drivers from Southern Ontario who wanted to reach Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie had to travel along a rather out-of-the-way routing on Highway 11 to North Bay, and then take Highway 17 westbound into Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

The year 1976 saw big changes for Highway 69. The portion of highway south of MacTier was shifted onto the routing of former Highway 103, completely absorbing that roadway into its length. The former routing was renamed Highway 169. It was at this time that Highway 69 was at its longest, from Highways 12 and 400 near Port Severn to Sudbury.

Until the early 1980s, Highway 69 continued through Sudbury and into the suburban towns of Valley East and Capreol. Although this route is no longer part of the provincial highway, and is officially designated as a series of Sudbury Municipal Roads, it is referred to locally by some as "Highway 69 North".

Since 1989, Highway 400 has been extended gradually northward towards Sudbury, and now reaches Nobel.

From 2008 to 2012, however, the Highway 69 designation continued to a southerly terminus at MacTier, rather than Nobel — the two highways shared a routing for 32 kilometres between Nobel and Rankin Lake Road, and then followed separate routes between Rankin Lake Road and Highway 69's southern terminus near MacTier. Signs were posted along this route announcing that the segment from Rankin Lake Road to Mactier would be decommissioned as part of Highway 69 in summer 2012. The route's posted name is now Lake Joseph Road, although it remains part of the provincial highway system under an unsigned 7000-series designation.

Four-laning[edit]

Although early planning for an eventual four-lane highway started in 1969, the commitment to expand Highway 69 to a full freeway was originally made in 1991 by the New Democrat government of Bob Rae.[3] Although construction did commence northward from Waubaushene at the highway's southern end, the project was curtailed by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris shortly after the 1995 provincial election, with construction ending at kilometre 225 in Parry Sound.[3]

The city of Sudbury continued to lobby for the highway's expansion, calling attention especially to an ongoing series of fatal car accidents at the intersection of Highway 637, where a sharp S-curve in Highway 69's route rendered the approaching intersection effectively invisible to northbound traffic.[3] Assisted by Rick Bartolucci, the Liberal MPP for Sudbury, the CRASH 69 (Community Rallying Against Substandard Highway 69) committee of Sudbury residents campaigned throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s to have the project reinstated.[3] The revived construction to Sudbury was announced in 2002 by Harris' successor (and former MPP for Parry Sound—Muskoka), Ernie Eves.[3]

In 2004, construction began on the segment from Sudbury southwards to Estaire, and route planning studies were completed for the Estaire to Parry Sound branch. Although the timetable may be subject to change, the four-laned route is scheduled to be completed in its entirety by 2017. Portions of the route will be opened to traffic as construction is completed — the 20 kilometre section south of Sudbury from Crown Ridge to Estaire was opened for traffic on November 12, 2009,[4] and the segment from Highway 559 to Parry Sound opened to traffic on October 26, 2010.[5] The former alignment in Sudbury now has the street name Estaire Road, while the former route through Nobel now has the street name Nobel Drive.

Work has also now been completed on a realignment of the controversial S-curve at Highway 637. Construction began on the new four-lane route at this location in 2008. Two lanes opened to traffic on July 27, 2010,[6] and the completed four-lane route with a full highway interchange at Highway 637 opened to traffic on August 8, 2012.[7] The former S-curve alignment now has the name Murdock River Road, and is accessible only from Highway 637 as a local road.

Once the four-lane expansion project is complete, the highway will be fully renumbered as Highway 400. Northern sections will retain the 69 designation until the freeway is fully connected.

Concurrently with the final stages of construction on Highway 69, the Highway 17 freeway in Sudbury will be extended eastward to the Coniston neighbourhood along the city's Southwest and Southeast Bypasses. In preparation for this latter project, an interchange opened in 2008 at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sudbury's Long Lake Road.

As the Highway 69 route passes through significant tracts of wilderness and forest land, the route has also historically seen a rate of animal collisions well above the provincial norm. Several segments of the four-laned freeway route will include special grade-separated wildlife crossings, the first of which was completed in March 2012.[8]

As of July 3, 2011, the federal government has delayed further work from being done on this highway while it completes a screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; although environmental assessments were already completed on individual portions of the route, a Supreme Court of Canada decision, MiningWatch v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, effectively forced the federal government to rescind these approvals and reassess the project as a whole.[9] As of November 1, 2011, Transport Canada addressed a letter to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce advising that the reassessment was nearly complete.[10]

The provincial government tendered new contracts in March 2012 for the next phase of construction, from the southern limit of the current construction project near Highway 637 to just north of the French River.[11]

Status of construction activity[edit]

  • Currently under construction:
Highway 637 to Highway 607 (20 km)[11]
  • Planning, engineering and property acquisition:
Highway 559 to Shebeshekong Road (16 km)
Shebeshekong Road to Highway 529 (11 km)
Highway 529 to Harris Lake Road (14 km)
Harris Lake Road to Highway 522 (27 km)
Highway 522 to Highway 607 (19 km)

Former segments[edit]

Due to the many realignments and modifications that have taken place throughout Highway 69's history, numerous roads which were formerly part of the route of Highway 69 are now in use as parts of other highways or as county or local roads. This includes much of the routing of Highway 400 between Waubaushene and Nobel, Highway 529, the former Highway 169 and the following local roads:

  • Lone Pine Road, White Falls Road and Joe King's Road in Georgian Bay
  • Lake Joseph Road in Georgian Bay and Seguin
  • Oastler Park Drive, Louisa Street and Parry Sound Drive in Parry Sound
  • Nobel Road in Nobel
  • Murdock River Road, Burwash Road, Estaire Road and Secord Road in Sudbury District
  • Estaire Road, Secord Road, Old Wanup Road, Bentley Avenue and Municipal Roads 46, 80 and 84 in Sudbury

Some of these routes remain as part of the provincial highway system under unsigned 7000-series designations.

Major intersections[edit]

The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 69, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.[2] 

Division Location km[2] Mile Exit Destinations Notes
Muskoka Georgian Bay −58.2  Highway 400 – Barrie, Port Severn Exit 189; terminus of Highway 69 from 2008 to 2012.
−53.8 District Road 11 – MacTier
Foot's Bay −52.1 District Road 169 east – Bala, Gravenhurst Formerly Highway 169
Parry Sound Gordon Bay −43.0 Highway 612 south – MacTier
Seguin  Highway 141 west (to Highway 400) Beginning of Highway 141 concurrency (2003 - 2012).
−32.8  Highway 141 east – Rosseau End of Highway 141 concurrency (2003 - 2012). Terminus of Highway 141 prior to 2003.
−30.2 213  Highway 400 Beginning of Highway 400 concurrency (2003 - 2012).
−27.1 214 Seguin Trail Road, Horseshoe Lake Road
−23.9 217 Oastler Park Drive, Badger Road Prior to 2003, Oastler Park Drive was the alignment of Highway 69.
−20.5 220  Highway 518 (Hunter Drive) – Orrville
Parry Sound −16.9 224 Bowes Street, McDougall Road
−14.4 229 Parry Sound Drive Parry Sound Drive is a former alignment of Highway 69.
McDougall −11.8 231  Highway 124 (Centennial Drive)
−6.7 237 Avro Arrow Road — Nobel
−1.3 241  Highway 559 – Killbear Provincial Park
Carling 0.0 0.0
End of divided freeway
 Highway 400 continues north as  Highway 69
17.2 10.7 Shebeshekong Road Unsigned Highway 7182
Pointe Au Baril 26.4 16.4  Highway 644
The Archipelago 28.3 17.6  Highway 529 north
Magnetawan First Nation 48.3 30.0  Highway 529 south
Henvey 53.5 33.2  Highway 526 – Britt
Cranberry 66.3 41.2  Highway 522 – Trout Creek
Bon Air 78.6 48.8
French River bridge
Sudbury
Bigwood 80.9 50.3 Highway 607
Rutter 90.3 56.1  Highway 64 north – Noelville, Sturgeon Falls
Unorganized Sudbury District 102.8 63.9
Beginning of divided freeway
107.1 66.5 Highway 637 west – Killarney Grade-separated interchange opened August 8, 2012.
119.1 74.0 Nelson Road – Estaire
Greater Sudbury 128.1 79.6  Highway 537
134.0 83.3 Estaire Road Estaire Road is a former alignment of Highway 69.
134.5 83.6
End of divided freeway
140.3 87.2  Highway 17 Terminus of Highway 69; roadway continues northerly as Regent Street/Municipal Road 46.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  •       Closed/former

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ontario 17.svg Highway 17
Trans-Canada Highway
Ontario 69.svg Highway 69
Succeeded by
Ontario 400.svg Highway 400