- Highway 403 (Ontario)
Highway 403 is a 400-Series Highway in
Ontario, Canadathat extends 126 km (78.3 mi.) from Woodstock in the west to Mississaugain the east, branching off from and reuniting with Highway 401 at both ends. It is concurrently signed with the Queen Elizabeth Wayon a 22 km (14 mi.) stretch from Burlington to Mississauga. Highway 403 is also known as the Chedoke Expressway or Chedoke Parkway within Hamilton. Highway 403 is also notable because it was discontinuous for much of its history, at one point having two and three separate sections. Highway 403 also offers drivers easy access to Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Downtown Toronto.
Highway 403's history dates back to the
1930s, when the Ontario Department of Highways (predecessor to today's Ministry of Transportation) started building Middle Road in Peel RM and Halton RM, between Torontoand Hamilton. The Department had realized the need for a freeway link between London and Hamilton (via Woodstock) in 1937, as the two-lane Highway 2 and Highway 53 were becoming congested with traffic. Twinningalong Highway 2 between Woodstock and Paris relieved traffic somewhat, but the Department still believed that a full bypass of Paris and Brantford, Ontariowould be the best solution. Though these plans were originally just concept plans and ideas, they were part of the roots of what would become today's 400-series Highway network. World War IIput a temporary end to these desires, as equipment and workers were rationed for the war effort, and delayed Highway 403's evolution from drawing board plans to being construed in reality for over 20 years. The Department of Highways could only work on small projects (such as resurfacing and bridge repair), but also plotted out where a potential "London to Hamilton Highway" would go. Its alignment was finally chosen in 1956, and the freeway opened in sections in 1963. The sections that were first opened were from Highway 24 to Highway 2/53 just north of Brantford, and the section in Hamilton from Highway 2/53 to the Queen Elizabeth Way.
A predecessor project to Highway 403 was when a new alignment of QEW, the "Freeman Diversion", opened in 1960, bypassing the existing alignment which was renamed Plains Road. The new QEW not only improved access to the Burlington Skyway, it also allowed for the "Freeman Interchange" (a semi-directional "T" junction) to be built for the future Highway 403. The Hamilton-Ancaster section of Highway 403 from Ancaster to the QEW in Burlington was completed in the 1960s. These two structures (the Freeman Diversion and Burlington Skyway) were constructed as prerequisites before Highway 403 could even be constructed, so traffic could flow smoothly in the Hamilton area.
This curving section of highway is noted for its scenic view as it descends the
Niagara Escarpment. The stretch through downtown Hamilton between Aberdeen Avenue and Main Street West is considered to be one of the more dangerous stretches of provincial freeways, because the curves are not designed to be taken at speeds beyond the 90 km/h(55 mph) posted speed limit.
The eastern section of Highway 403, which cut through Mississauga and stretched from the QEW in Oakville to Highway 401, was completed in 1982. Known informally as the Hamilton Expressway, it was initially designed to run parallel to
Eglinton Avenue, carrying on to the 401-427 interchange. Metro Torontoplanned to continue Highway 403 as the Richview Expressway, which would have then continued as the Crosstown Expressway to the Don Valley Parkway. A revised plan for Highway 403 in the late 1960s called for it to terminate at a "Y-junction" with the 401 just west of Renforth Drive and the 401-427 interchange.
In the end, Highway 403 curved north at
Cawthra Roadand terminates at the newer 401-410 junction. To accommodate Highway 403 traffic headed for Highway 427, the stretch of Highway 401 near Pearson International Airport was widened to an 18-lane collector-express system in 1986, with the collectors providing a direct connection between Highways 427 and 403. The right-of-way intended for the eastern extension of Highway 403 was eventually used for a controlled access arterial extension called Eastgate Parkway.
The stretch from Mavis Road to Erin Mills Parkway has been the site of numerous accidents, due to glare from the sun that causes vision problems throughout the day. As well, there is a downward slope as motorists head eastbound towards the Mavis Road interchange, where drivers frequently complaint of having to slam on the brakes since traffic comes to a standstill due to a sudden increase in volume, causing numerous rear-end accidents. [ [http://www.mississauga.com/article/4923] ]
Starting in the mid-1970s, the massive 401-403-410 interchange was completed in several stages. The first stage was the construction of the outermost 401 overpasses and 403 flyover ramps, along with the Dixie Road interchange. A loop ramp and directional ramp served 410 SB to 401 EB and vice versa, making for only a partial interchange since Highway 410 was only a
two-lane freewayat the time. The new 401 bridges bypassed the original alignment of the 401 and accommodated the 410 loop ramp until the 1990s. Although these handled mainline traffic for the interim, they would serve as collector lanes/ramps for 401 and 403 by the time the project was complete.
In 1986-87, the 401-403 interchange was expanded with two extra high-speed flyover ramps between the existing 1970s ramps; these directly connected the 401 and 403 express lanes. Highway 403 was expanded to a 10-lane collector-express system between Eastgate Parkway and Highway 401. A collector-express system on Highway 401, completed shortly before in 1986, links the outermost Highway 403 ramps/collectors directly to Highway 427.
In the 1990s, concurrent with the widening of Highway 410 to a full freeway, the high-speed flyover ramps from and to the 401 EB were constructed. The original 401 alignment was also restored with a new six-lane overpass and now serve as express lanes, while the outermost 401 bridges from the 1970s were redesignated as collector lanes to serve Dixie Road. The old 410 SB to 401 EB loop ramp was demolished and the underpasses were used for 403 to 410 connecting ramps. This was finally completed in 1995, and because of its more recent design it uses high-mast lighting instead of the conventional truss lights found in the rest of the interchange. It is almost a four-level stack interchange although it is not completely finished, lacking ramps from 401 EB to 403 WB which prevents direct access from 401 to
The interchange is designed to accommodate the planned widening of Highway 401 to a 12 lane collector-express system west of the 401-403-410 junction (tentative date of construction start is 2006). This project also includes a proposal to add a directional ramp from 401 EB to 403 WB (where 403 runs north-south from a brief stretch) and a loop ramp in the opposite direction in order to better accommodate Cawthra Road traffic; this would make the interchange a full four-way junction.
Highway 407/Ninth Line
When the Mississauga section of Highway 403 was completed in 1982, it turned south at a curve near Ninth Line to meet the QEW, just east of
Ford Drivein Oakville. However, the long term plans called for Highway 403 to maintain its east/west alignment and completely bypass the QEW until Burlington, so that the short existing connection to the QEW would later be incorporated into the original routing of Highway 407. Nonetheless, the right-of-way intended for the complete Highway 403 remained vacant for a decade, until it was used instead for the Highway 407 extension to Burlington.
In 1987, the curve was replaced with high-speed flyover ramps, while additional completed ramps were temporarily rerouted to Ninth Line and Trafalgar Road, pending the construction of the extension to Burlington. Designed to accommodate future construction and intended to be the first phase of a three-level modified
stack interchange, these high-speed ramps now permanently serve mainline 403 traffic as the Highway 407 plans changed in 1999 to incorporate the 403 extension corridor. When the interchange was completed, it had been modified to treat Highway 407 as mainline traffic and access to Ninth Line was removed.
The QEW-403 "Y-junction" partial interchange in Oakville was designed to be a full "semi-directional T" interchange, with flyover ramps planned from Highway 403 to the QEW (Mississauga) segment east of the junction. This would allow for a direct connection from Highway 401 to the QEW, via the Highway 407 and 403 north-south segments that run parallel to Ninth Line. However, these ramps were not built because of the existing high traffic levels on the QEW's Mississauga section. At the moment, the QEW-403 interchange will remain a bypass of that congested segment of the QEW.
A new segment of Highway 403 from Brantford to Highway 401 near Woodstock opened in 1990. During the construction of the flyover ramp where Highway 403 westbound terminates, Highway 401 westbound traffic was diverted to the partially completed flyover embankment in order to accelerate construction of the rest of the overpass. Highway 403 was briefly left with three discontinuous sections; Brantford-Woodstock, Hamilton-Ancaster, and Mississauga. As a temporary stopgap, traffic from the Woodstock segment was routed to Highway 2 in order to connect with the Hamilton segment. The last remaining gap between Brantford and Ancaster was plagued by numerous delays, and finally opened in 1997. Highway 2, which was the only parallel route before the completion of Highway 403, was subsequently downloaded.
Linking the segments
The Hamilton-Brantford and Mississauga sections of Highway 403 were initially planned to be linked up, but that land was used instead for an extension of Highway 407.
After this decision, the province planned to renumber the Mississauga section as an extension of Highway 410, as that would have eliminated confusion with the unconnected Highway 403 segment in Woodstock/Hamilton, but that idea was later abandoned to avoid confusion for people accustomed to the "403" designation which has been use since 1982. Also, Highway 403 runs east-west for the most part, while Highway 410 is intended to run north-south (with future plans to have Highway 410 eventually run to Owen Sound).
The freeway was finally made continuous in 2002, when the section of the QEW which connects both segments was co-signed as Highway 403, a rarity for 400-series highways. [Ministry of Transportation, [http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2002/02/11/c0640.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html Ontario government improves provincial highway numbering] ,
February 11, 2002]
In 2003, high-mast lighting was added to the previously unlit Mississauga section between Highway 407 and Eastgate Parkway. Due to land availability afforded by the hydro corridor which runs along the north side of the freeway, the high-mast poles are mounted on the north shoulder instead of in the median. The shoulders were widened between Erin Mills Parkway and Mavis Road for use as bus lanes.
This project preceded the widening of Highway 403 between Winston Churchill Blvd and Highway 401/410, which saw an HOV lane added in each direction; the project started in summer of 2004 and these opened on
December 13, 2005. The HOV lanes and the dividing "Ontario tall-wall" concrete barrier were constructed using the existing right-of-way provided by the grass median. The conventional truss lighting between Eastgate Parkway and Highway 401/410, which had been installed in 1986, was replaced by shoulder-mounted high-mast lighting in late 2004.
Similar HOV lanes have been added to Highway 404 in
York Region, marking the MTO's first foray into HOV facilities.
A provisional plan supported by local municipalities is to extend Highway 403 westward past Woodstock between London and St. Mary's to terminate at Highway 402 near Strathroy. This project does not currently have the support of the provincial government, however, all planning and development is being performed by the municipalities only. It is expected that a portion of this new route would form part of London's proposed
ring road/ bypass route. Such an extension would back up the kilometre posts and the exit numbers would have to be revised accordingly if it comes to fruition.
Exit number problem
In 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Transport started to assign
exit numbersto the interchanges of the western segment between Woodstock and Burlington. This causes a problem because the 403 is co-signed with the QEWfor about 20 kilometres between Burlington and Mississauga, which has long had its own exit numbers according to the QEW routing so that they don't fit in with the numbers of the Highway 403 western segment.
In 2007, exit numbers have been added to the interchanges of the segment in Mississauga.
Volume information (2005)
*Highest Volume: 162,000 AADT from Eglinton Avenue to Highway 401
*Lowest Volume: 20,000 AADT from Highway 401 to Oxford Road 53
Lane configurations from west to east
* [http://www.thekingshighway.ca/Hwy403.htm Detailed history of Highway 403]
* [http://www.onthighways.com/highway_403.htm Detailed route information for Highway 403]
* [http://onthighways.com/hwy_402-403_images/Hwy403_images.htm Virtual Tour of Highway 403]
* [http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=Exit+235+%4043.118550,+-80.704390&daddr=HWY-403+E%2FQEW+%4043.423790,+-79.725230+to:HWY-410+N+%4043.639420,+-79.660260&mrcr=0&mra=mr&sll=43.504737,-79.689331&sspn=1.529962,3.400269&ie=UTF8&ll=43.393074,-80.073853&spn=0.766396,1.700134&t=h&z=9&om=1 Google Maps: Highway 403 route]
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