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Highway 420 (Ontario): Wikis


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Ontario 420.pngNiagaraRR420.png
Highway 420, Regional Road 420
Length: 3.8 km[1] (2.4 mi)
Formed: 1941 (as Queen Elizabeth Way, renumbered to Highway 420 in 1972)
West end: RR 98 Montrose Road in Niagara Falls
Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)
RR 102 Stanley Avenue in Niagara Falls (east end of Hwy 420)
East end: Rainbow Bridge to Niagara Falls, New York
(to US 62.svg US 62)
Ontario provincial highways
< Hwy 417 Hwy 427 >
400-series - County

Highway 420 is a 400-Series Highway in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is a spur route from the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) to the tourist district of Niagara Falls.

At 3.8 km (2.4 miles) in length, Highway 420 is Ontario's shortest 400-series Highway, running from Montrose Road in Niagara Falls to Stanley Avenue in the city's tourist district. Highway 420 east of Stanley Avenue becomes Roberts Street and Newman Hill leading to the Rainbow Bridge and Niagara Falls, New York, USA. This portion was designated a part of Highway 420 until 2000, when it was handed over to the City of Niagara Falls and the Regional Municipality of Niagara, although the section from Falls Avenue to the Rainbow Bridge is still maintained by the province. Roberts Street and Newman Hill are now designated as Regional Road 420 and have been signed as such by the region.

The easternmost section was one of only two sections of 400-series highways at the time that was not a full freeway (the other being on Highway 406); it was an urban arterial road with at-grade intersections. It is unlikely that the easternmost section will be upgraded to a freeway, as the Rainbow Bridge does not allow truck traffic and the route funnels into surface streets once across the border instead of connecting to an Interstate highway. Despite not being a freeway, it has been upgraded to an expressway-standard route. All non-motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic is banned from using the roadway, and all access to the route (with the exception of two businesses) has been removed, with one major intersection remaining at McDonald Avenue. These upgrades, along with the reconstruction of the Victoria Avenue interchange, were performed by the Ministry of Transportation prior to its downloading to the Niagara Region.



The route of Highway 420 was formerly the Niagara Falls spur of the QEW. It was built in 1941 to provide direct access from the mainline QEW to the Niagara Falls tourist areas, as well as the brand new Rainbow Bridge international border crossing.

In 1972, the highway was extensively reconstructed, with the conventional mercury truss lights, "W"-style guardrail in the median, and a new high-capacity four-level interchange with the QEW (a rarity outside of the Greater Toronto Area). In addition, the route was extended westerly to Montrose Road to provide easier access to Lundy's Lane (Highway 20). It was also decided that to eliminate confusion with the mainline section that it should be given a distinct number. Highway 420 was selected due to the close proximity of what was then Provincial Highway 20. The overpasses crossing the now-designated Highway 420, built in the 1940s, were extensively rehabilitated but due to their old construction have height limitations on the vehicles passing underneath.

From 2001 to 2004, Highway 420 underwent another multi-year upgrade. This involved installation of a new lighting system, rehabilitation to flyovers at the QEW interchange, a new raised median embankment for decorative vegetation, and the replacement of several substandard overpasses. While the section near the QEW junction has high-mast lighting, like other provincial freeways, the rest of the route (including Regional Road 420) had the "ER" lightposts to commemorate the route's historical status as original routing of the QEW.

An "ER" lightpost along Highway 420 in Niagara Falls, recounting the route's historical status as the QEW's mainline.

Despite its 3.8 km length, the QEW-420 interchange allows for westward expansion and there are plans to extend Highway 420 west to the Thorold Tunnel, where it could assume the routing of the freeway portion of Highway 58 and connect with Highway 406 at the Thorold/St. Catharines boundary. The ultimate length would be about 14 km (8.7 miles) with a gap of about 6.5 km (4 miles) that would need to be constructed.

At one point, Highway 420 was considered as the eastern terminus of the proposed Mid-Peninsula Highway due to the existing QEW-420 interchange which allows for westward expansion. However, this proposal was dropped, and the Mid-Peninsula Highway is now expected to follow an alternate alignment directly to Fort Erie.

Volume information (2005)

  • Highest Volume: 34,400 AADT from Drummond Road to Dorchester Road
  • Lowest Volume: 18,500 AADT from Rainbow Bridge to Victoria Avenue

Exit list

The entire length is in Niagara Falls.

km Destinations Notes
0 RR 98 (Montrose Road) , Watson Street At-grade; west end of Hwy 420
0 QEWHamilton, Toronto, Fort Erie Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
1 Dorchester Road Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
2 Drummond Road
3 RR 102 (Stanley Avenue) At-grade; east end of Hwy 420 and west end of RR 420

Highway 420 in cannabis culture

Due to its association with the number 420 in cannabis culture, Highway 420 is also the location for the annual Cannabis Conference and Protest, usually taking place sometime around April 20 (i.e. 4/20). The event includes guest speakers, discussion panels, raffles, prizes and, most obviously, a cannabis march. The march begins near the Niagara Falls, continues up the famous Clifton Hill and ends, inevitably, at Highway 420.

The highway has also, at times, fallen victim to street sign theft because of its highway number.

Toronto post rock band Do Make Say Think reference the highway in their song "Highway 420" from their album Do Make Say Think.


External links



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