Ontario Highway 427
|Length||27 km (17 mi)|
|Existed||December 4, 1971–present|
|South end||Queen Elizabeth Way / Gardiner Expressway in Toronto (Continues as Browns Line)|
| Highway 401 in Toronto|
Highway 409 in Toronto/Mississauga
407 ETR in Vaughan
|North end||Regional Road 25 (Major Mackenzie Drive) in Vaughan|
King's Highway 427 (pronounced "four twenty-seven"), also known as Highway 427 and colloquially as the 427, is a 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario that runs from the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) and Gardiner Expressway in Toronto to Major Mackenzie Drive (York Regional Road 25) in Vaughan. It is Ontario's second busiest freeway by volume and the 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 the QEW/Gardiner Expressway and Highway 401 are two of the largest interchanges in Ontario and were constructed between 1967 and 1971, while the interchanges with Highway 409 and Highway 407 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 from Highway 407, Highway 401 (eastbound), and the QEW/Gardiner Expressway makes use of the freeway for airport access, it also serves as a major traffic route for the western portion of Toronto (Etobicoke), the northeastern portion of Mississauga (Malton), the southeastern portion of Brampton (Claireville), and the western portion of Vaughan (Woodbridge). The section between Highway 401 and Dundas Street is a heavily traversed transit corridor; the 1.61-kilometre (1.00 mi) stretch between Burnhamthorpe and Rathburn saw an average of over 400,000 vehicles and over 5,000 buses per day in 2016. GO Transit, MiWay, and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) all operate express buses along this section of the highway.
First designated in 1972, Highway 427 assumed the recently completed 12-lane collector-express freeway of Highway 27, as well as a short freeway north of Highway 401 known as the Airport Expressway. Both routes were upgraded throughout the 1950s and 1960s, eventually becoming intertwined into the present configuration in 1972. The freeway was extended north from Pearson Airport to Highway 7 over the following twenty years. Construction of an extension north to York Regional Road 25 (Major Mackenzie Drive) began in 2017 and was opened on September 18, 2021, following a legal dispute between the construction consortium and the provincial government.
Highway 427 is the second-busiest freeway in Canada with an average of 300,000 vehicles that use it between the QEW and Highway 401 per day. The section between Burnhamthorpe Road and Rathburn Road has an annual average daily traffic (AADT) count of 353,100. The route is 19.9 km (12.4 mi) long.
At its southern terminus, the route begins at Coules Court, where it continues as Brown's Line, once the southernmost stretch of Highway 27. Alderwood Plaza, located on the east side of the route, has a parking lot which provides access to the highway; this is the only at-grade access along the length of the route. The four-lane road splits into a divided highway and descends below Evans Avenue. The highway weaves through a complicated interchange, providing northbound access to Evans Avenue and the Gardiner Expressway, and southbound access to The Queensway, QEW/Gardiner Expressway, and Evans Avenue. North of the interchange, the lanes from Brown's Line diverge and form the collector lanes of a collector-express system. Flyover ramps to and from the QEW/Gardiner pass over the southbound lanes and converge to form the express lanes. This collector-express system serves to divide local traffic from freeway-to-freeway traffic; the express lanes provide access between the QEW/Gardiner Expressway and Highway 401, while the collector lanes provide local access between those interchanges.
After crossing Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) tracks, the freeway interchanges with Dundas Street (former Highway 5). A set of criss-crossing ramps provide access between the collector and express lanes north of this point, referred to as "The Basketweave," with the northbound express-to-collector transfer also having an offramp to Dundas Street. The highway passes beneath Bloor Street West but does not provide direct access. Instead, it provides ramps to parallel arterial roads; The East Mall and The West Mall run parallel with the freeway from Evans Avenue to Rathburn Road. A full interchange is provided shortly after with Burnhamthorpe Road, southwest of Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute. Across from the school, an off-ramp provides access from the southbound lanes to Holiday Drive and The West Mall. Following the off-ramp, to the north, is a partial interchange with Rathburn Road, which provides access from the northbound lanes and to the southbound lanes.
Transfers provide a second and final opportunity to cross between the express and collector lanes, or vice versa, south of the complicated 1.56-square-kilometre (0.60 sq mi) Highway 401 interchange. A final set of ramps along the collector-express system provides access to and from the southbound lanes and Eringate Drive, after which the collector lanes diverge, and the express lanes cross the southbound collector lanes. The collector lanes cross Eglinton Avenue at a half-cloverleaf interchange and then dives under Highway 401 while transitioning into Highway 27, while the express lanes interchange with Highway 401 and continue the route of Highway 427. The Highway 427 express lanes and ramps connecting to Highway 401 are constructed around the Richview Memorial Cemetery. Highway 427 passes through the sprawling Highway 401 interchange and becomes displaced approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) to the west. There are no ramps to provide access from southbound Highway 427 to eastbound Highway 401 and vice versa, as this connection is handled by Highway 409. Highway 427 crosses Renforth Drive and then curves to the east of Runway 24R and 24L of Toronto Pearson International Airport. Shortly thereafter, it crosses and interchanges with Dixon Road and Airport Road, between which it forms the demarcation line. Several ramps diverge at this point to provide access to Pearson Airport, and the freeway narrows to eight lanes.
From here to just south of Finch Avenue, the freeway follows the boundary line between Toronto and Mississauga. It encounters the third multi-level junction along its length, with Highway 409, which provides access to the airport as well as the southbound to eastbound movement that cannot be performed at the interchange with Highway 401 to the south. Highway 427 continues straight north and narrows again to six lanes. After crossing the Kitchener GO line, it passes west of Woodbine Racetrack and beneath Rexdale Boulevard, Morning Star Drive, and Finch Avenue. The freeway bends slightly eastward, diverging from the Mississauga–Toronto boundary, and crosses the West Humber River where it drains from Claireville Reservoir. The highway crosses Steeles Avenue and enters Vaughan, as it approaches a fourth and final sprawling interchange with Highway 407. It then interchanges with Highway 7 (York Regional Road 7) at a partial cloverleaf, interchanges with Regional Road 72 (Langstaff Road) and Regional Road 73 (Rutherford Road) and ends at a trumpet interchange with Regional Road 25 (Major MacKenzie Drive).
QEW to Highway 401 (1953–1956)
Although Highway 427 was not officially designated until 1972, several sections of freeway were already in place prior to that date. The designation was applied following the completion of the interchanges at the QEW and Highway 401 as well as the expansion of the section between them into a collector-express system.
Highway 27 was designated as a two-lane road travelling north from Highway 2 (Lake Shore Boulevard) towards Barrie. As Toronto grew outwards following the annexation of various municipalities, the Ontario Department of Highways (DHO) began planning for a bypass of the city, aptly named the Toronto Bypass. A significant portion of this bypass was designed to be incorporated into the Transprovincial Highway, now Highway 401. The remainder was designed to follow the existing right-of-way of Highway 27 between the QEW and Richview Sideroad (now Eglinton Avenue).
Construction of the Toronto Bypass began near Yonge Street in 1949 (along present-day Highway 401) and on the four-laning of Highway 27 in 1953. The Highway 27 work involved the construction of two interchanges: a three-way stack at Highway 401 and a large cloverleaf at the QEW, the latter of which would become one of the worst bottlenecks in the province a decade after its completion, according to Minister of Transportation Charles MacNaughton. By September 1956, it was possible to bypass Toronto entirely on the four lane divided highway composed of Highway 401 and Highway 27. Highway 401 was extended to the west soon after, but Highway 27 remained a two-lane highway north of it.
Airport Expressway (1964–1971)
During the early 1960s, Toronto International Airport was expanded with the construction of the Aeroquay One terminal. To serve the expected demand of the expansion, the DHO built a new four-lane freeway north from Highway 401 at Renforth Drive. This new route, which roughly followed the same route as today's Highway 427 as far as Dixon/Airport Roads where it tied in with and downgraded into Indian Line, was known as the Toronto Airport Expressway and was opened on January 3, 1964. It featured a connection with the western terminus of Richview Sideroad at the southern end of the interchange with Highway 401 as well as an interchange with Renforth Drive.
In 1963, MacNaughton announced that Highway 401 would be widened from a four-lane highway to a collector-express system, modelled after the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. Plans were soon developed to apply this model to the QEW between Highway 27 and Royal York Road and to Highway 27 between the QEW and Highway 401, and were unveiled to Etobicoke council on October 13, 1966. Design work followed and was completed by May 1967. This reconstruction once again involved the junctions with the QEW and Highway 401, which were reconfigured into complicated multi-level interchanges to permit free-flow movement; construction began in September 1968. The widening of Highway 27 required the demolition and rebuilding of overpasses at Bloor Street, Burnhamthorpe Road, and Rathburn Road constructed just over a decade earlier.
The junction with Highway 27 was built over 48.5 ha (120 acres) and required the construction of 19 bridges and the equivalent of 42 km (26 mi) of two-lane roadway. Construction began in September 1968, although preliminary work had been ongoing since 1966; the interchange opened to traffic on November 14, 1969.
The junction with Highway 401 remains the largest interchange in Canada as it sprawls over 156 ha (385 acres) and required the construction of 28 bridges and the equivalent of 46.6 km (29 mi) of two-lane roadway, being built around the existing Richview Memorial Cemetery, and including connections to Eglinton Avenue (ultimately meant for the proposed but never-built municipal Richview Expressway). The interchange with the QEW was opened to traffic on November 14, 1969, while the Highway 401 junction required several more years of construction staging, fully opening on December 4, 1971 (though portions were opened in the weeks prior to that), just prior to Highway 27's renumbering as Highway 427. The rest of the route was rebuilt prior to the completion of these interchanges.
The completed project resulted in the creation of Highway 427 between the QEW and Dixon/Airport Road, north of which traffic was defaulted onto Indian Line. The entire existing Airport Expressway was removed to make way for the new interchange with Highway 401, but its replacement in the form of the Highway 427 extension (also known as the Airport Expressway) still included direct access to the airport.
Extensions beyond Highway 401 (1976–1994)
Ultimately, it was planned to extend Highway 427 north along Indian Line (although a 680 m (2,230 ft) stretch of that road would be retained to maintain access to driveways) to the future Highway 407, where ramps would direct northbound traffic onto Highway 27. An extension north of Dixon/Airport Roads began in 1976 as part of the work to build Highway 409, and it included the construction of the interchange between the two freeways. By the beginning of 1980, this work was completed, and construction was progressing on the section north to Rexdale Boulevard, which opened by the end of the year. In 1982, construction began on the next section of Highway 427, which would extend it to south of Albion Road (which was reached via the northernmost stretch of Indian Line) north of the West Humber River. This project included the extension of Finch Avenue west from Humberline Drive to Steeles Avenue and was completed in late 1984.
As part of the initial phase of Highway 407, Highway 427 was extended north to Highway 7 in Vaughan beginning with the construction of the interchange between the two in 1988. With the interchange only half-completed, the extension was opened in late 1991. By 1994, the final at-grade intersections—the first being the left turn from the southbound lanes with eastbound Highway 409 after the completion of that interchange, and the second being at Morning Star Drive, where an overpass was constructed to extend the street across the freeway to Humberwood Boulevard—were removed, making Highway 427 a fully controlled-access freeway for its entire length.
Arterial extension and widening (2008–2021)
An 800-metre (2,600 ft) four-lane arterial road designated as Regional Road 99 was opened in the autumn of 2008 by York Region. This road extended Highway 427's northern terminus from Highway 7 to a signalized intersection with Zenway Boulevard, and mainly served to provide improved access to Highway 27 and Highway 50. York Regional Road 99 was permanently closed on August 8, 2020,
A section of Highway 427 between Campus Road-Fasken Drive and Steeles Avenue was expanded to four lanes in each direction. This project included the installation of high-mast lighting, median barriers, and the addition of high-occupancy toll lanes in both directions, and was completed in 2021. In conjunction with the widening work, and in anticipation of the opening of the extension north of Highway 7, exit numbers were added, starting with the northern sections of the highway.
Vaughan Extension (2017–2021)
An environmental assessment was completed on a northward extension of Highway 427 to Major Mackenzie Drive to relieve traffic issues on Regional Road 27 and 50, as well as provide improved access to the Canadian Pacific Intermodal Terminal, with construction beginning in May 2017. The project included HOT lanes as far north as Rutherford Road, and was scheduled to open in 2021, with the HOT lanes opening the following year. However, a pending legal dispute between the provincial government and the constructor delayed the opening of the extension in late April 2021.
The extension was built by Link 427, a consortium of six companies that tendered the winning bid to Infrastructure Ontario, The project was estimated at a cost of $616 million, and included the design, financing, and construction of the extension, as well as its maintenance for thirty years. Construction required the periodic closure of eleven roads, and the permanent closure of Regional Road 99. McGillivray Road was realigned at Rutherford Road, as was the intersection of Huntington Road and Major Mackenzie Drive. The extension extension north to Major Mackenzie Drive opened on September 18, 2021, after the legal dispute was settled.
There is a planned extension that would see the freeway pushed north to near Bolton to meet the proposed GTA West Corridor, should that highway be constructed. The Highway 427 Extension Transportation Needs Assessment Study examined further extentions; connections with the Bradford Bypass freeway, as well as Highway 400 and Highway 11 north of Barrie were considered. In the past decade, there has been little discussion of this highway extension due to concerns with traversing the Oak Ridges Moraine and Minesing Wetlands.
|Toronto||0.0||0.0||–||Coules Court||Southbound terminus of Highway 427|
|0.3||0.19||–||Evans Avenue||No access to Gardiner Expressway from northbound entrance|
|0.6||0.37||–|| Queen Elizabeth Way – Hamilton, Niagara Falls|
Gardiner Expressway – Downtown Toronto
|Southbound exit and northbound entrance; other movements are directed to Evans Avenue|
|–||Sherway Gardens Road|
|No northbound exit; no access to QEW from southbound entrance.|
|2.3||1.4||–||Dundas Street||Formerly Highway 5; no access to QEW from southbound entrance; incorrectly signed as Regional Road 5|
|–||Gibbs Road||Right-in interchange; Northbound entrance only|
|4||Valhalla Road||Northbound right-out exit only|
|–||Eva Road||Southbound RIRO exit and entrance|
|–||Holiday Drive||Southbound right-out exit only|
|5.2||3.2||–||Rathburn Road||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|–||Eringate Drive||Southbound right-in entrance only; southbound exit accessible from Highway 27 and Eglinton Avenue|
|7.8||4.8||–||Eglinton Avenue||No access to Highway 401 east from northbound entrance|
|–||Highway 27 north||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Toronto–Peel boundary||Toronto–Mississauga boundary||10.3||6.4||–|| Regional Road 7 (Airport Road) west /|
Dixon Road east
|Northbound exit and southbound entrance, access to Toronto Pearson International Airport|
|–||Fasken Drive||Northbound exit only|
|11.6||7.2||13||Highway 409||Southbound access to eastbound 401 via Highway 409, access to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Former southbound access via traffic signal, replaced by a ramp in 1994.|
|14.2||8.8||15|| Regional Road 5 (Derry Road) west /|
Rexdale Boulevard east
|–||Morning Star Drive||Former signalized intersection closed in the 1990s after an overpass was constructed|
Etobicoke General Hospital
|York||Vaughan||18.3||11.4||19||407 ETR||Toll highway|
|19.9||12.4||21||Regional Road 7 (Highway 7) – Brampton, Markham||Former Highway 7. Northern terminus of Highway 427 from 1991 to 2021|
|York||Vaughan||23||Regional Road 72 (Langstaff Road)|
|25||Regional Road 73 (Rutherford Road)|
|–||Regional Road 25 (Major Mackenzie Drive)|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
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