400-series highways

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For the 400-series highways in British Columbia, see List of British Columbia provincial highways#Defunct route numbers.
400-series highways
Highway 403 shield Queen Elizabeth Way shield
Highway markers for Highway 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way
The current 400-series Highway network in Southern Ontario
System information
Maintained by Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO)
Length: 1,915.3 km[1] (1,190.1 mi)
Formed: July 1, 1952 (1952-07-01)
System links
Roads in Ontario

The 400-series highways are a network of controlled-access highways throughout the southern portion of the Canadian province of Ontario, forming a special subset of the provincial highway system. They are analogous to the Interstate Highway System in the United States or the British Motorway network in the United Kingdom, but under provincial jurisdiction and regulated by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). Although Ontario had been constructing divided highways for two decades prior to their designation, it wasn't until 1952 when these routes were given 400-series designations. Initially only Highways 400, 401 and 402 were numbered; other designations followed in the subsequent decades. Although there's no formal numbering standard, most even numbered 400 series freeways flow north to south whilst odd number freeways flow east to west (in contrast to the US Interstate Highway System), with the exceptions of Highways 402, 420, and 427.

Modern 400-series highways have high design standards, speed limits of 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph), and various collision avoidance and traffic management systems. 400-series highway design has set the precedent for a number of innovations used throughout North America, including the parclo interchange and a modified Jersey barrier design known as Ontario Tall Wall. As a result, they currently experience the lowest accident and fatality rate comparative to traffic volume in North America.


When the 400-series designations were first applied to Ontario freeways in 1952,[2] several existing routes were in place.[3] Originally inspired by German Autobahns, Thomas McQuesten planned a network of "Dual Highways" across the southern half of the province.[4][5] The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) was first, an upgrade to the partially constructed Middle Road in 1934.[6] McQuesten also sought out the economic opportunity that came with linking Toronto to Detroit and New York by divided roadways with interchanges at major crossroads, Although he no longer served as Minister of Highways by the onset of World War II, his ambitious plans would come to fruition in the following decades as Highways 400, 401, 402, 403 (between Woodstock and Hamilton) and 405.[7]

The construction boom that followed World War II resulted in a great number of new freeway construction projects in the province. The Toronto–Barrie Highway (Highway 400), Trans-Provincial Highway (Highway 401),[8] a short expansion of Highway 7 approaching the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia (Highway 402),[9] and an expansion of Highway 27 into part of the Toronto Bypass were all underway or completed by the early 1950s.[8] Seeking a new way to distinguish the controlled-access freeways from the existing two lane King's Highway networks, the Department of Highways created the 400-series designations in 1952. By the end of the year, Highway 400, 401 and 402 were numbered, though only short stubs of their current lengths.[2] Highway 401 was assembled across the province in a patchwork fashion,[8] becoming fully navigable between Windsor and Quebec on November 10, 1964;[10] Highway 400 was extended north to Coldwater on Christmas Eve, 1959;[11] Highway 402 was extended to London between 1972 and 1982.[12][13]

In addition to this network backbone, plans for additional 400-series highways were initiated by the late 1950s, comprising the Chedoke Expressway (Highway 403) through Hamilton;[14] the Don Valley Parkway Extension (Highway 404) northward from the soon-to-be constructed Toronto expressway;[15] Highway 405 to connect with the American border near St. Catharines;[16] Highway 406 south from St. Catharines to Welland;[17] Highway 407 encircling the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), though not built for another 40 years;[18] Highway 409 to connect Highway 401 with Toronto Pearson Airport;[19] and The Queensway (Highway 417) through Ottawa.[20] The first sections of these freeways were opened in 1963,[21] 1977,[22] 1963,[21] 1965,[23] 1997,[24] 1974,[25] and 1960,[26] respectively.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, additional freeways were planned or built, including Highway 427 in Toronto,[27] Highway 403 through Mississauga,[28] Highway 410 north to Brampton and Highway 416 to connect Highways 401 and 417.[29][30] Highway 420 was designated in Niagara Falls,[2][31] though it had been built as part of the QEW in 1941.[32] Other major works included the skyway bridges along the QEW and the expansion of Highway 401 into twelve lane collector-express systems.[33][34][8]

By the mid-1980s, the network had more-or-less taken its current shape, with only Highways 407 and 416 not yet built.[35][36] Instead, emphasis was placed on expanding existing routes to accommodate increasing traffic volumes.[18] However, extensions of Highway 400 towards Parry Sound,[37] Highway 403 between Woodstock and Hamilton,[38] Highway 404 towards Newmarket,[39] and Highway 427 towards Vaughan were underway.[40] By the end of the decade, construction of Highway 407 and Highway 416 had begun,[18][41] and Highway 410 was expanded from two to four lanes.[42]

Highways 407 and 416 opened in the late 1990s.[24][43] Until early 2015, Highway 407 and 416 were the most-recently designated (and constructed) freeways in Ontario. This has changed with the designation of Highways 412 and 418. In addition to these new additions to the 400-series network, several extensions of existing freeways have been built or are underway,[36] including Highway 400 to north of Parry Sound in 2010,[44] Highway 404 to Keswick in 2014,[45] four-laning Highway 406 to Welland (underway),[46] extending Highway 410 north of Brampton in 2009,[47] and Highway 417 to Arnprior in 2012.[48]

Design standards[edit]

While older freeways feature some lapses in safety features, modern 400-series highways feature design speeds of 130 km/h (81 mph), speed limits of 100 km/h (62 mph), various collision avoidance and traffic management systems, and several design standards adopted throughout North America,[49] notably the Ontario Tall Wall median barrier and the Parclo A-4 interchange design, the latter which became standard in the design for the widening of Highway 401 through Toronto in 1962. The Institute of Traffic Engineers subsequently recommended this design to replace the cloverleaf interchange throughout North America.[50][51] Highways in Ontario have been either the safest or second safest in North America, with 0.63 fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers in 2010.[52]

Like the US Interstate network, green signs are primarily used to represent interchanges whilst blue signs represents nearby services and attractions. However, there have been cases where blue signs are instead used as interchange signs on privately owned toll highways (i.e. 407 ETR) as well as for collector lanes of an express-collector configuration and also for airport service roadways. The province's baseline standard for the construction of a freeway is an average traffic count of 10,000 vehicles per day. However, other factors are considered as well. To promote economic development in a disadvantaged region (e.g., the current extension of Highway 400 to Northern Ontario), a 400-series highway may be built where the existing highway's traffic counts fall below 10,000. As well, for environmental, budgetary or community reasons, some proposed 400-series highways (e.g., the Highway 400 extension in Toronto from Highway 401 to the Gardiner Expressway that was cancelled in the 1970s) have not been built, even where an existing highway's traffic counts exceed the standard.


Highway 400[edit]

A marker for Highway 400

Highway 400
Toronto–Barrie Highway
Route information
Length: 226 km[1] (140 mi)
History: Opened December 1, 1951 –
July 1, 1952[53]
Northern end:  Highway 69 in Carling
Southern end: Maple Leaf Drive – Toronto
(continues as Black Creek Drive)

Highway 400, historically the Toronto–Barrie Highway, links the city of Toronto in the urban and agricultural south of the province with the scenic and sparsely populated central and northern regions. Highway 400 is part of the highest-capacity route from southern Ontario to the Canadian West, via a connection with the Trans-Canada Highway in Sudbury. The highway also serves as the primary route from Toronto to southern Georgian Bay and Muskoka, areas collectively known as cottage country. South of Maple Leaf Drive in Toronto, the freeway becomes known as Black Creek Drive.

Highway 400 was the first fully controlled-access highway in Ontario when it was opened between North York and Barrie on July 1, 1952. On that date, it was also the first highway to be designated as a 400-series. The freeway was extended in both directions; north of Barrie to Coldwater in 1958, and south of Highway 401 to Jane Street in 1966. It was widened between North York and Barrie in the 1970s. Since 1977, construction on the freeway has been snaking north along Highway 69 towards Parry Sound and now Sudbury. As of 2011, a four lane freeway is opened as far north as Carling. At the north end of Highway 69, a segment of freeway is in operation between Murdock River and Sudbury; while this section will be part of the completed Highway 400 route, at present it remains signed as Highway 69. The remaining gap between Carling and Murdock River will be opened in stages and is expected to be completed by 2021.

Highway 401[edit]

A marker for Highway 401

Highway 401
Macdonald–Cartier Freeway
Route information
Length: 817.9 km[1] (508.2 mi)
  • Proposed 1938
  • Opened December 1947 – October 11, 1968[10]
Western end:  Highway 3 in Windsor
Eastern end: A-20 towards Montreal, QC

Highway 401 stretches 817.9 kilometres (508.2 mi) across Southern Ontario. The part that passes through Toronto is the busiest highway in the world, and one of the widest. By the end of 1952, three individual highways were numbered "Highway 401": the partially completed Toronto Bypass between Weston Road and Highway 11; Highway 2A between West Hill and Newcastle; and the Scenic Highway between Gananoque and Brockville. The route was expanded across the province, and became fully navigable from Windsor to the Quebec border on November 10, 1964. In 1965 it was designated the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway, in honour of the Fathers of Confederation, and it became a freeway for its entire length in 1968. A portion of the highway was designated the Highway of Heroes in 2007, as the road is travelled by funeral convoys for fallen Canadian Forces personnel from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office in Toronto. In 2011 construction began on a westward extension of Highway 401 that will be known as the Herb Gray Parkway and extend to Interstate 75 via a new international crossing.

Highway 402[edit]

A marker for Highway 402

Highway 402
Route information
Length: 102.5 km[1] (63.7 mi)
History: Planned: 1938
Designated: 1953
Completed: 1982
Western end: I-69 / I-94 at Canada–United States border on Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward
Eastern end:  Highway 401 – London

Highway 402, historically referred to as the Blue Water Bridge Approach, connects the Blue Water Bridge international crossing near Sarnia to Highway 401 in London. It is one of two vital trade links between Ontario and the Midwestern United States. The freeway is four-laned for nearly its entire length, except on the approach to the Blue Water Bridge, where it widens. Although Highway 402 was one of the original 400-series highways when it was designated in 1953, it was not completed until 1982, when the final link between Highway 81 and Highway 2 opened to traffic. The freeway originally did not exit the Sarnia city limits, and merged into Highway 7 near the present Highway 40 interchange. In 1972, construction began to extend Highway 402 between Sarnia and London; this work was carried out over a decade. The removal of an intersection at Front Street in Sarnia made the entire route a controlled-access highway.

Motorists crossing into Michigan at the western end have direct access to Interstate 69 (I-69) and Interstate 94 (I-94) into Port Huron; motorists crossing onto the Canadian side from the east end of I-69 and I-94 have access to Toronto via Highway 401, and onwards to Montreal via A-20 in Quebec. The only city or town along Highway 402 between Sarnia and London is Strathroy.

Highway 403[edit]

A marker for Highway 403

Highway 403
Chedoke Expressway
Route information
Length: 125.2 km[1] (77.8 mi)
History: Proposed 1950s
Opened December 1, 1963[54]
Completed August 15, 1997[55]
Western end:  Highway 401 near Woodstock
Eastern end:   Highway 401 / Highway 410 in Mississauga

Highway 403 travels between Woodstock and Mississauga, branching off from and reuniting with Highway 401 at both ends and travelling south of it through Hamilton and Mississauga. It is concurrent with the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) for 22 km (14 mi) from Burlington to Oakville. Highway 403 is also known as the Chedoke Expressway within Hamilton. Although the Highway 403 designation was first applied in 1963 to a short stub of freeway branching off of the QEW, the entire route was not completed until August 15, 1997, when the Brantford to the then-still independent Town of Ancaster section was opened to traffic.

The majority of Highway 403 is surrounded by suburban land use, except west of Ancaster, where it passes through agricultural land; Brantford is the only urban area through this section. In Hamilton, Highway 403 descends the Niagara Escarpment. It wraps around the northern side of Burlington Bay to encounter the QEW. From there, it travels straight through Burlington and Oakville with the QEW, departing to the north at the Mississauga–Oakville boundary. The freeway then crosses through the centre of Mississauga in an east–west direction, serving its city centre, before turning north. It continues north of Highway 401 as Highway 410.

Highway 404[edit]

A marker for Highway 404

Highway 404
Route information
Length: 50.1 km[1] (31.1 mi)
Existed: 1977 – present
Southern end:  Highway 401 / DVPToronto
Northern end:  Regional Road 8 (Woodbine Avenue) – East Gwillimbury

Highway 404 connects Highway 401 and the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) in Toronto with East Gwillimbury. The 50.1 km (31.1 mi) controlled-access highway also connects with Highway 407 in Markham. Construction on the freeway began soon after the completion of the Don Valley Parkway, with the first section south of Steeles Avenue opening in 1977. Over the next twelve years, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) undertook a continuous construction program to build the freeway to Davis Drive in Newmarket. This was completed on October 24, 1989. Since then, the route has been expanded in width and extended by 15.5 km (9.6 mi) to Woodbine Avenue south of Ravenshoe Road in the town of East Gwillimbury. Future proposals may result in an extension to southeast of Beaverton. Highway 404 is one of several freeways in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes; the southbound lane was one of the initial projects in the province and opened on December 13, 2005. The northbound lane opened on July 23, 2007.

Highway 405[edit]

A marker for Highway 405

Highway 405
General Brock Parkway
Route information
Length: 8.7 km[1] (5.4 mi)
Existed: September 11, 1963[56] – present
Western end:  Queen Elizabeth Way – St. Catharines
Eastern end: I-190 near Lewiston, NY

Highway 405, also known as the General Brock Parkway, connects the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) near St. Catharines with the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge in the village of Queenston. It then crosses the Niagara River, where it encounters the international border with the United States and continues into New York as Interstate 190 (I-190). Designated and under construction by 1960, the short freeway was opened to traffic on September 11, 1963. Since that time, an interchange was added in 1969 and another removed in 2004. On August 13, 2006, Highway 405 was dedicated the General Brock Parkway.

Highway 406[edit]

A marker for Highway 406

Highway 406
Route information
Length: 26.0 km[1] (16.2 mi)
Existed: December 7, 1965[57] – present
Southern end: East Main Street in Welland
Northern end:  Queen Elizabeth Way in St. Catharines

Highway 406 is the primary north-south route though the central portion of the Niagara Peninsula, connecting Welland, Thorold and downtown St. Catharines to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). The section through St. Catharines wraps through the Twelve Mile Creek valley in a winding route. Until January 2, 2015, it was the only 400-series highway with at-grade intersections.

Construction of Highway 406 began in 1963. The first section opened between St. Davids Road and Geneva Street on December 7, 1965, followed by a southward extension to Beaverdams Road in late 1969. The route was later extended south as a Super two to Merritt Road where it became Highway 58. In 1977, construction began to connect the freeway with the QEW; this was completed in late 1984.

Construction on the route resumed in 1987 near Welland, connecting the route with East Main Street in Welland, completed during the mid-1990s. In 2009 construction resumed on the highway to expand the remaining two lane sections to a four lane divided freeway, with the existing route becoming the southbound lanes of the new freeway. The southern terminus in Welland was converted to a roundabout while the remaining at-grade intersections were rebuilt as interchanges. This work was completed as scheduled in early 2015.

Highway 407 ETR[edit]


Highway 407
Express Toll Route
Route information
Maintained by 407 ETR Concession Company Limited
Length: 107.3 km[58] (66.7 mi)
History: Proposed 1959–1986,[18]
Opened June 7, 1997–August 30, 2001[21]
Western end:  Highway 403 / Queen Elizabeth Way – Burlington
Eastern end:  Highway 7 – Pickering

407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR) is a privately operated and electronically tolled freeway. The route begins at the junction of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) and Highway 403 in Burlington, and travels 107.3 km (66.7 mi) across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to Highway 7 and Brock Road (Durham Regional Road 1) in Pickering. Highway 407 is the first electronically operated toll highway opened in the world; there are no toll booths along the length of the highway. Transponders or licence plates are read at entrance and exit points and distances calculated electronically.

Highway 407 was planned as a freeway bypassing the Toronto segment of Highway 401. Despite being included in the 400-series network, Highway 407 is not part of the provincial highway network.[59] The route is operated privately under a 99-year lease agreement with the provincial government. The lease was sold in 1998 for approximately C$3.1 billion to a consortium of Canadian and Spanish investors operating under the name 407 International Inc.

Although planning for Highway 407 began in the late 1950s, the project was shelved during the 1960s in favour of expanding Highway 401 to a twelve-lane collector–express system. Land acquisition continued nonetheless, and in the mid-1980s, planning for the highway resumed. Preliminary construction began in 1987. During the early 1990s, the provincial government proposed tolling the highway to alleviate a revenue shortfall. The proceeding government then initiated full privatization as part of a series of government downloads. The central sections of Highway 407 opened 1997, between Highway 401 and Highway 404. By the time of privatization in April 1999, the route was completed between Highway 403 and Markham Road. The remaining sections were built quickly over the next two years, with the final segment between Markham Road and Highway 7 opening in mid-2001.

A 65-kilometre (40 mi) provincially owned and tolled extension to the route, known as Highway 407 East (407E), is currently under construction through Pickering, Whitby and Oshawa. Under the current schedule, it will open to Harmony Road in Oshawa by the end of 2015, including a tolled north–south link to Highway 401 formerly known as the West Durham Link and designated Highway 412 since February 2015. A further extension will push the highway east to Highway 35 / Highway 115 in Clarington by 2020, with a second link to Highway 401 formerly known as the East Durham Link and designated Highway 418 since February 2015.

Highway 409[edit]

A marker for Highway 409

Highway 409
Belfield Expressway
Route information
Length: 5.6 km[1] (3.5 mi)
Existed: August 25, 1978[60] – present
Western end: Pearson Airport
Eastern end:  Highway 401 – Toronto

Highway 409, historically known as the Belfield Expressway, extends from Highway 401 in Toronto to Pearson International Airport, west of Highway 427, in Mississauga. It is a short freeway used mainly as a bypass for traffic approaching the airport or Highway 427 northbound from Highway 401 westbound, as both are not accessible at the complex interchange between Highways 401 and 427. The original name of the freeway was derived from the road running parallel to and north of it, Belfield Road. Belfield is a local road managed by the City of Toronto and runs from Kipling Avenue to Atwell Drive.

Planning for Highway 409 took place throughout the late 1960s amidst considerable controversy around its original path through the historic town of Malton. Eventually the route was changed to provide access to the airport instead of towards Brampton and completed through the mid-1970s, opening in 1978. The significance of the route has increased over the years alongside expansion of the airport. In 2000, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) purchased the section west of Highway 427 in order to modify the ramps leading into the airport.

Highway 410[edit]

A marker for Highway 410

Highway 410
Route information
Length: 20.3 km[1] (12.6 mi)
History: Planned late-1960s
Opened November 15, 1978[61] – November 15, 2009[60]
Southern end:   Highway 401 / Highway 403 – Mississauga
Northern end:  Highway 10 (Hurontario Street) – Caledon

Highway 410 connects Highways 401 and 403 to Brampton. North of Brampton, the freeway continues as Highway 10 north through Caledon as a four lane arterial road. Highway 410 was built along the alignment of Heart Lake Road south of Bovaird Drive, while north of Bovaird Drive it was built along a new alignment. The highway was designated in 1978 between Highway 401 and Bovaird Drive (later Highway 7), though it was only two lanes wide and did not feature any interchanges. It was widened throughout the 1980s and completed as a freeway in 1991. In 2003, construction began on a northward extension of the freeway that was completed in November 2009. Future work will see the highway widened to ten lanes, including an HOV lane in each direction, by 2018.

Highway 412[edit]

A marker for Highway 412

Highway 412
Route information
Length: 10 km (10 mi)
Existed: February 6, 2015 – present
Southern end:

 Highway 401

Toronto, Whitby
Northern end:  Highway 407

Highway 412 will connect Highway 401 with Highway 407 along the fringes of Ajax and Whitby. The future highway, being built as part of the Highway 407E project, is tentatively planned for completion in 2015. Although first planned in the early 1990s, construction did not effectively begin until 2013, by which point it was known as the West Durham Link. The highway was given the designation of Highway 412 in February 2015, in order to clarify navigation. Travelling parallel to the now decommissioned route of Highway 12, the route will travel just east of Lakeridge Road (Durham Regional Road 23) and will be tolled throughout its length.

Highway 416[edit]

A marker for Highway 416

Highway 416
Veterans Memorial Highway
Route information
Length: 76.4 km[1] (47.5 mi)
History: Proposed 1966[62]
Alignment built 1969–1983
Freeway built 1990–1999
Completed September 23, 1999[63]
Southern end:  Highway 401 to Kingston
Northern end:  Highway 417 to Ottawa

Highway 416, also known as the Veterans Memorial Highway, connects the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 417) in Ottawa with Highway 401 between Brockville and Cornwall. The 76.4-kilometre-long (47.5 mi) freeway acts as an important trade corridor from Interstate 81 between New York and Eastern Ontario via Highway 401, as well as the fastest link between Ottawa and Toronto. Highway 416 passes through a largely rural area, except near its northern terminus where it enters the suburbs of Ottawa. The freeway also serves several communities along its length, notably Spencerville and Kemptville.

Highway 416 had two distinct construction phases. Highway 416 "North" was the 21-kilometre (13 mi) segment starting from an interchange at Highway 417 and bypassing the original route of Highway 16 into Ottawa (now Prince of Wales Drive) along a new right-of-way. Highway 416 "South" was the twinning of 57 kilometres (35 mi) of Highway 16 New—a two-lane expressway bypassing the original highway that was constructed throughout the 1970s and finished in 1983—and the construction of a new interchange with Highway 401. Sections of both opened throughout the late 1990s. Highway 416 was commemorated as the Veterans Memorial Highway on the 54th anniversary of D-Day in 1998. The final link was officially opened by a World War I veteran and local officials on September 23, 1999.

Highway 417[edit]

A marker for Highway 417

Highway 417
Queensway (within Ottawa)
Route information
Length: 187.0 km[1] (116.2 mi)
Existed: 1971[26] – present
Eastern end: A-40 (TCH) towards Montreal, QC
Western end:  Highway 17 – Arnprior

Highway 417, also known as the Queensway through Ottawa, connects Montreal (via A40) with Ottawa, and is the backbone of the transportation system in the National Capital Region. Within Ottawa, it forms part of the Queensway (along with Ottawa Road 174 east to Trim Road) west to Highway 7. Highway 417 extends from the Quebec border (near Hawkesbury) to Arnprior, where it continues westward as Highway 17. Aside from the urban section through Ottawa, Highway 417 passes through farmland that dominates much of the fertile Ottawa Valley.

Within Ottawa, the Queensway was built as part of a grand plan for the city between 1957 and 1966, and later reconstructed to its present form throughout the 1980s. The eastern section, from Gloucester to the Quebec border, opened in 1975 in preparation for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Sections west of Ottawa have been under construction since the mid-1970s, with the latest section bypassing Arnprior opening on November 29, 2012.

Highway 418[edit]

A marker for Highway 418

Highway 418
Route information
Existed: Not yet built – present
Southern end:

 Highway 401

Toronto, Oshawa
Northern end:  Highway 407

Highway 418 will connect Highway 401 with Highway 407 within Clarington. The future highway, being built as part of the Highway 407E project, is tentatively planned for completion in 2020. Although first planned in the early 1990s, construction has yet to begin as of 2015. Until 2015, the route was known as the East Durham Link; it was given the designation of Highway 418 in February 2015, in order to clarify navigation. The highway, as planned, will travel alongside Courtice Road (Durham Regional Road 34) and will be tolled throughout its length.

Highway 420[edit]

A marker for Highway 420

Highway 420
Niagara Veterans Memorial Highway
Route information
Length: 3.3 km[1] (2.1 mi)
History: November 1, 1941 (as Queen Elizabeth Way)
1972 (as Highway 420)
Western end:  Regional Road 98 (Montrose Road)
   Queen Elizabeth Way
 Regional Road 102 (Stanley Avenue)
Eastern end: Rainbow Bridge to United States

Highway 420 connects the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) with downtown Niagara Falls. It continues east as a limited-access expressway named Niagara Regional Road 420 to connect with the Rainbow Bridge international crossing between Canada and the United States over the Niagara River; this was part of Highway 420 until 1998. West of the QEW, the freeway ends at an at-grade intersection with Montrose Road (Niagara Regional Road 98). The highway has a speed limit of 80 km/h, making it the only 400-series highway to have a speed limit less than 100 km/h for its entirety.

Originally constructed as a divided four lane road with two traffic circles, the route of Highway 420 formed part of the QEW between 1941 and 1972 before being assigned a route number. This took place during the reconstruction of the four lane divided highway into a freeway and the construction of the large interchange at the freeway's western terminus. Plans have arisen numerous times to extend Highway 420 west, either as part of the Mid-Peninsula Highway or to link with the Thorold Tunnel and Highway 406. However, as of 2014, there are no firm proposals in place.

Highway 427[edit]

A marker for Highway 427

Highway 427
Route information
Length: 19.9 km[1] (12.4 mi)
Existed: December 4, 1971[64] – present
Southern end:  Queen Elizabeth Way/Gardiner ExpresswayToronto
Northern end:  Regional Road 7 – Vaughan

Highway 427 connects the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) and Gardiner Expressway with York Regional Road 7 (formerly Highway 7) via Highway 401. An arterial extension, known as York Regional Road 99, continues 800 metres (2,600 ft) north to Zenway Boulevard. It is Ontario's second busiest freeway by volume and third busiest in North America, behind Highway 401 and Interstate 405 in California. Like Highway 401, a portion of the route is divided into a collector-express system with twelve to fourteen continuous lanes. Notable about Highway 427 are its several multi-level interchanges; the junctions with QEW and Highway 401 were Ontario's first four-level interchanges and were constructed between 1967 and 1971, while the interchanges with Highway 409 and Highway 407 are more recent and were completed in 1992 and 1995, respectively.

Highway 427 is the main feeder to Toronto Pearson International Airport from the north and south. However, while much of the traffic comes from Highway 407, Highway 401 (eastbound), and the QEW / Gardiner Expressway makes use of the freeway for airport access, it serves the western portion of Etobicoke (Rexdale), the northeastern portion of Mississauga (Malton) and the western portion of Vaughan (Woodbridge). A future extension will carry the freeway north towards Bolton, with construction scheduled to begin in 2017.

Queen Elizabeth Way[edit]

A marker for the Queen Elizabeth Way

Queen Elizabeth Way
Route information
Length: 139.1 km[1] (86.4 mi)
History: Built: 1931 – October 14, 1956
Fort Erie end: Peace Bridge – Buffalo, NY, USA
Toronto end:  Highway 427 – Toronto

The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) links Toronto with the Niagara Peninsula and Buffalo, New York. The freeway begins at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and travels 139.1 kilometres (86.4 mi) around the western shore of Lake Ontario, ending at Highway 427. The physical highway, however, continues as the Gardiner Expressway into downtown Toronto. The QEW is one of Ontario's busiest highways, with an average of close to 200,000 vehicles per day on some sections. Major highway junctions are located at Highway 420 in Niagara Falls, Highway 405 and Highway 406 in St. Catharines, the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton, Highway 403 and Highway 407 in Burlington, Highway 403 at the OakvilleMississauga boundary and Highway 427 in Etobicoke. Within the Regional Municipality of Halton, the QEW is signed concurrently with Highway 403.

The history of the QEW dates back to 1931, when work began to widen the Middle Road in a similar fashion to the nearby Dundas Highway and Lakeshore Road as a relief project during the Great Depression. Following the 1934 provincial election, Ontario Minister of Highways Thomas McQuesten and his deputy minister Robert Melville Smith changed the design to be similar to the autobahns of Germany, dividing the opposite directions of travel and using grade-separated interchanges at major crossroads. When it was initially opened to traffic in 1937, it was the first intercity divided highway in North America and featured the longest stretch of consistent illumination in the world. While not a true freeway at the time, it was gradually upgraded, widened and modernized beginning in the 1950s, more or less taking on its current form by 1975. Since then, various projects have continued to widen the route. In 1997, the provincial government turned over the responsibility for the section of the QEW between Highway 427 and the Humber River to the City of Toronto. This section was subsequently redesignated as part of the Gardiner Expressway.

The QEW, internally, is a 400-series highway, using the number 451.

High-occupancy vehicle lanes[edit]

Map showing locations of HOV lanes in the province, as of March 2013

The MTO began planning for the use of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes with the HOV Opportunities Study, contracted to McCormick Rankin in 2001. This led to the test trial of three HOV lanes in the GTA in December 2005: southbound Highway 404 between Markham and Highway 401, with a dedicated HOV ramp built to connect with westbound Highway 401, and Highway 403 in both directions within Mississauga.[65] Since then, HOV lanes have been opened on several 400-series freeways around the Golden Horseshoe and National Capital Region. In May 2007, the Ministry of Transportation introduced a multi-billion dollar Horseshoe Network Project, which included plans to incorporate HOV lanes into numerous 400-series highways.

By then, work was already advanced on several projects, including the northbound HOV lane on Highway 404 (that opened on July 23, 2007) and an HOV lane along both directions of Highway 403 between Highway 407 and Highway 401. A third pair of HOV lanes has since been introduced to the QEW/403 through Oakville, and a fourth individual HOV lane travels eastbound on Highway 417 from just west of Eagleson Road in Kanata to just east of Moodie Drive.

More than 450 kilometres (280 mi) of HOV lanes are currently proposed for construction by 2031. Future plans include extending existing HOV lanes and introducing them to other 400-series freeways.[66] However, as of October 2014, only two projects have been confirmed: Highway 410 between Highway 401 and Queen Street in Brampton, and Highway 427 between Highway 409 and Highway 7. The MTO has stated that HOV lanes will only be introduced through new construction, and that no general purpose lanes will be converted. . The general goals of the project are to help increase highway efficiency (an HOV lane is claimed by the Ontario government to have the ability to move as many people as four general-purpose lanes),[66] reduce congestion, conserve energy and help protect the environment.[67]

During the 2015 Pan American Games and 2015 Parapan American Games held in Toronto, several HOV lanes had their minimum requirements increased from 2 passengers to 3, and some highways had their general purpose lanes converted temporarily to HOV lanes to accommodate increased traffic. These temporary restrictions lasted from June 29 to August 18.[68]

Future HOV lanes[edit]

The following table lists planned expansions to the HOV network by 2031.[66]

Highway Starting location Terminating location General location
Near-term (2015—2020)
400 Major Mackenzie Drive W. Kirby Road/King Road Region of York
Kirby Road/King Road Highway 9 Region of York
401 Mississauga Road Highway 403 Mississauga
404 Highway 7 Aurora Road
410 Highway 401 Queen Street (former Highway 7) Mississauga, Brampton
427 Highway 409 Highway 407 near Pearson International Airport in Toronto
Long-term (2021—)
400 Highway 9 Highway 88/Barrie Region of York and Simcoe County
401 Milton Mississauga Road
Brock Road Ritson Road Region of Durham
403 Highway 6 Highway 407/Queen Elizabeth Way Hamilton and Burlington
QEW Highway 407 Mississauga
404 Aurora Road Keswick Region of York
410 Highway 401 Queen Street Brampton
QEW Red Hill Valley Parkway Highway 406 Hamilton and Region of Niagara
407/403 Guelph Line Burlington
Trafalgar Road Highway 427 Oakville and Mississauga

Map gallery[edit]

See also[edit]



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External links[edit]