Ontario Highway 98
|Provincial Road, Middle Road, Essex County Road 46, Chatham-Kent Road|
|Length:||96.2 km (59.8 mi)
Now Essex County Road 46 and Chatham-Kent Municipal Road 8
|Existed:||1823 (as Middle Road),
1929 (as Highway 2A),
1938 (as Highway 98) – 1970
|West end:||Highway 2 in Windsor|
|East end:||Highway 40/Highway 3 in Blenheim|
|Major cities:||Windsor, Maidstone, Woodslee, Comber, Tilbury, Merlin, Blenheim|
King's Highway 98, commonly referred to as Highway 98, was a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario, designated as part of the provincial highway system from 1938 to 1970. The route travelled through the northern part of Essex County and through south-central Chatham-Kent, extending from Windsor to Blenheim.
The route's function within the provincial transportation network was eventually superseded by Highway 401, and the highway was decommissioned in 1970. The road is now in operation solely as a network of county roads.
Highway 98 travelled from Windsor to Blenheim via Maidstone, Tilbury, Merlin and Charing Cross. The route is known by various names today: Howard Avenue, Provincial Road, Middle Road and Middle Line; as well as by various designations: Essex County Road 46 and Chatham-Kent Road 8.
The route began in downtown Windsor at the intersection of Ouellette Avenue and Riverside Drive. That intersection also served as the terminus for Highway 3B, Highway 18, and Highway 39; Highway 2 continued through the intersection to meet Highway 3 at the Ambassador Bridge. Highway 2, Highway 3B, Highway 39 and Highway 98 travelled south concurrently along Oulette Avenue to Tecumseh Boulevard, at which point Highway 3B branched west along that road while the others turned east. At Howard Avenue, Highway 39 continued east while Highway 2 and Highway 98 turned south. They travelled concurrently to Cabana Road / Division Road, where Highway 2 split onto Division Road and Highway 98 onto Provincial Road.
Highway 98 left Windsor as it encountered an interchange with Highway 401 (Exit 14). It travelled southeast, parallel to and north of Highway 3, to Maidstone. There, the highway curved and became Middle Road. It followed this road east, occasionally jogging northeast, while passing through Comber and south of Tilbury, where it left Essex County and entered what is now the municipality of Chatham-Kent. Continuing east, now as Middle Line, the route encountered the communities of Valetta, Stewart and Merlin before curving northeast. It bisected South Buxton before encountering Charing Cross and turning east. It continued for a short distance into Blenheim, where it ended at Highway 3 (Talbot Street).
This road's purpose was to be an alternate route for people travelling on Highways 2 and 3 before Highway 401 opened in 1952. The highway's original length was only 55 km (stretching from Windsor to Tilbury), and was originally known as Highway 2A from 1929 to 1938.
In 1941, the road was extended by 40 km when a new township road in Kent County, extending to Blenheim, was uploaded as Highway 98. This brought the highway up to its maximum length,.
Originally, this road was designated as Highway 2. When Highway 2 was first numbered (in 1925, though it was in provincial power since 1917), it started at the ferry dock between Dougall Avenue and Ouellette Avenue in downtown Windsor, concurrent with Highway 3. Highways 2 and 3 travelled down Ouellette Avenue to Tecumseh Road, where it made a short three-block jog west to Dougall Avenue. It then travelled south to Talbot Road, and headed east along Talbot Road to Malden Road in Maidstone.
From here, Highways 2 and 3 parted ways. Highway 3 continued to Essex and Leamington (via County Road 34's present alignment), while Highway 2 travelled up Malden Road to Middle Road (Essex CR 46), and continued to Tilbury, Chatham, London and points east.
Before 1929, Highway 18 connected Windsor to Tilbury along today's County Road 42/Division Road, while Highways 2 and 3 were concurrent along Ouellette Avenue from the Ferry Docks (located between Howard Avenue and Ouellette Avenue) to Talbot Road. They split company at Maidstone (today's junction of County Road 34 and Former Highway 114). Highway 3 would continue through Essex, Ontario to Leamington and points east, while Highway 2 followed Malden Road (Former Highway 114) to Middle Road (What would become Highway 2A, then Highway 98, ultimately today's County Road 46).
1929: The Great Renumbering
Highway 2 was rerouted along North Talbot Road, and diverted onto the newly built Provincial Road, leading northwest to Howard Avenue. At Howard, the road turned west along Tecumseh Road to Ouellette Avenue, turning north and terminating at the ferry docks. Highway 3 would be routed along the newly built Huron Church Road to the Ambassador Bridge.
Since Base Line Road (today's County Road 42/Division Road) was much quicker than Highway 2's former alignment along Middle Road, the province decided to extend Highway 18 from Tilbury to Leamington, and to have Highway 2 absorb its Windsor-Tilbury segment. The former routing of Highway 2 (along Middle Road) became Highway 2A (then Highway 98, and today's CR 46).
In 1931, Highway 2 was re-routed along County Road 42's current path, and the precursor to Highway 98 was re-designated as Highway 2A, and this lasted until 1938, when it was re-designated as Highway 98.
Replacement by Highway 401
When the section of Highway 401 opened in 1952 between Windsor and Tilbury, traffic began to decline, favouring the more direct and faster freeway over the two-lane road. Upon the completion of Highway 401's four lanes (having been twinned in 1965), traffic declined rather sharply, and this once-important alternate highway had lost its reason for existence, almost overnight. It was downgraded and removed from the provincial highway network in early 1970.
Until the great highway downgrading spree of 1997-98, this was the longest provincial highway entirely lost to downgrading.
Today the route is split into Essex County Road 46 and Chatham-Kent Municipal Road 8.
The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 98, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
|Essex||Windsor||0.0||0.0||Highway 2 / Highway 18 west (Riverside Drive)||Beginning of concurrency with Highway 2, Highway 3B and Highway 39|
|2.9||1.8||Highway 3B west (Tecumseh Boulevard)||End of Highway 3B concurrency; Highway 2, Highway 39 and Highway 98 turned east onto Tecumseh Boulevard|
|3.6||2.2|| Highway 2 / Highway 98 south (Howard Avenue)
Highway 39 east (Tecumseh Boulevard)
|End of Highway 39 concurrency; Highway 2 and Highway 98 turned south onto Howard Avenue|
|6.6||4.1||Howard Avenue / Division Street split|
|Division Street / Provincial Road Split
|End of Highway 2 concurrency; Highway 98 followed Provincial Road|
|East Sandwich||11.4||7.1||Highway 401||Exit 14|
|Maidstone||19.0||11.8||County Road 19 (Manning Road)||Highway 98 became Middle Road|
|Woodslee||32.2||20.0||County Road 27 (Belle River Road) – Belle River|
|Comber||46.0||28.6||Highway 77 – Leamington|
|Chatham-Kent||Tilbury||56.5||35.1||County Road 1 (Wheatley Road)|
|Stewart||68.0||42.3||County Road 14 (Port Road)|
|Merlin||73.5||45.7||County Road 7 (Merlin Road)|
|South Buxton||79.0||49.1||County Road 6 (A.D. Shadd Road)|
|Charing Cross||88.5||55.0||County Road 10 (Charign Cross Road) – Chatham|
|Blenheim||96.6||60.0||Highway 3 (Talbot Street West)|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi