Traffic Jam
Jon Upton : The Back Bumper
Traffic Jam is a page devoted to automobile-related subjects, such as collecting or stories. Although my main interest is in license plates, I find other things interesting as well-- and they're the ingredients to a mixture I call the Traffic Jam. Enjoy!  (BACK to Jam Index)
Ontario's Vanishing Highways
Ontario's provincial highways are becoming a kind of endangered species these days. In a largely successful effort to get the province's budget under control, the Ontario government has been "downloading" various expenses onto counties and municipalities, one of which is Ontario's highway system.

If you look at a map from the early 1990s, you'll see lots of shield symbols, which represent a King's Highway (a primary highway designation). Since around 1994, roads have been downloaded by removing the King's Highway designation and renaming the roadway as a county road. In some cases, the numbered shield symbol has just been replaced with a county flowerpot symbol, and the number has stayed the same. In many other cases, the numbers change.

One casualty of this cost-cutting mechanism was King's Highway 2, which was the main east-west trunk through southern Ontario before Highway 401 was completed decades ago. Highways 2 and 401 basically ran parallel, so despite the history of the road, it was cut up into strings of county roads with different numbers. Many other highways in Southern Ontario are meeting the same fate-- if they haven't disappeared altogether, they have become discontinuous, with stretches of county-designated roads (some with different numbers) in between the King's Highway portions... somewhat confusing.

Having lived in southwestern Ontario, I drove or rode my bicycle down many of these highways, and even though they're just name changes, I still get a little wistful. Highway 2 used to go from Detroit to (almost) Montreal. I lived blocks away from it London, and an old girlfriend lived a block away from it near Toronto. 22, 51, 73 and 81 are gone; 4, 15, 17 and 21 are being carved up, just to name a few.

I was at a farm auction once in 1995 and I saw a group of Ontario highway signs for sale. They looked brand new, but they were a configuration I'd never seen before, with number 3 on it. That made sense, since Highway 3 is nearby, but these were very different signs. I was a student at the time, and I wish to this day I could have afforded the $40 for one. According to my information, Highway 3 (which runs from Windsor to Fort Erie) remains largely intact.

The Ontario highways up in the northern half of the province are fewer in number and more spread out, and as far as I know, they aren't going to be changing with the times, aside from stretches of road within town limits. Most of the King's highways, secondary highways, and tertiary highways are staying the same. That's good news to me... I grew up riding on secondary highways 552 and 556. But as for the King's highways down south... It's the end of the road.

E-mail me if you have an Ontario highway sign available for sale/trade. Thanks.

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