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Highway 69 (Ontario): Wikis

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Ontario 69.pngTrans-Canada Highway shield.svg
Highway 69
Trans-Canada Highway
Formed: 1936[citation needed]
South end: Hwy 400 near MacTier (exit 189)
North end: Hwy 17 in Sudbury
Ontario provincial highways
< Hwy 67 Hwy 71 >
400-series - County
Highway 69 bridge over the French River.

Highway 69 is a major north-south highway in Central and Northern Ontario, linking Sudbury with Highway 400 in Parry Sound.

The current highway begins at the Highway 400 interchange south of MacTier (exit 189), and ends at an interchange with Highway 17 in Sudbury. After the interchange, the roadway continues northward into the urban core of Sudbury as Regent Street/Municipal Road 46.

The highway currently has a total length of 199 km (124 miles). The length of the highway has gradually been decreasing over recent years with northward extensions of Highway 400, which eventually could completely take over Highway 69, likely around 2017.

The segment between Exit 213 on Highway 400 and the end of the four-lane freeway in Parry Sound is currently concurrent with 400. Until the summer of 2008 when the freeway in that area was completed, the southernmost segment between the Musquash River and its current southern terminus was also concurrent with Highway 400.

The highway is part of the Trans-Canada Highway for most of its length, except for the section between Exits 189 and 213 bypassed by Highway 400.

Between Parry Sound and Sudbury, there are no large communities, although there are numerous small communities including (from south to north) Nobel, Shawanaga, Pointe au Baril, Byng Inlet, Britt, Bigwood, Delamere and Estaire. The posted speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph) for most of its length.

Contents

History

Highway 69 has the most colourful and turbulent history of any provincially controlled roadway. Through the past 70 years, the road has been transformed from a minor northern two-lane gravel highway, into a multi-lane all-season freeway in some parts. It started out in 1936 as the gravel "Rama Road" along the eastern shore of Lake Couchiching, from Rama, through Orillia and Gravenhurst, with its final northern terminus at Bala. This original alignment is a full 80 km from its current alignment. This road is now Simcoe County Road 44 and Muskoka District Road 169, and aside from a brief former concurrency with Highway 11, the road is no longer provincially maintained.

The roadway was extended to MacTier shortly after being upgraded to a provincial highway, and work began on creating a direct link to Sudbury from the south. Work began on both northern (Sudbury) and southern (MacTier) ends, and was expected that the roadway would be linked together from both ends near a middle point in the future.

When World War II broke out in late 1939, the province declared that all major road construction projects would have to cease if they were not absolutely necessary, or for the war effort. The stretch of Highway 69 under construction between Parry Sound and Nobel was deemed to be critically important because of the large munitions factory located in Nobel, and with an all-weather roadway to Nobel from the south, it made movement of troops and munitions much easier.

Once the war ended, construction resumed on Highway 69. Paving and extending the road continued, with the first gap (between Britt and Burwash) being closed in 1951. French River would be linked to the provincial roadway network in 1952. This allowed motorists to take a far more direct route between Severn River and Sudbury, by taking advantage of a detour (via Highway 535 and Highway 64, through the small communities of Hagar and Noëlville).

The biggest gap that remained on Highway 69 was between Alban and Burwash, but this was eventually eliminated from 1952 to 1955, when the road was finally completed and provided a third link from Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario (the other two being Highways 11 and 17).

Until Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury was completed, drivers from Southern Ontario that wanted to reach Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie had to travel along a rather out-of-the-way routing on Highway 11 to North Bay, and then take Highway 17 westbound into Sudbury and Sault Sainte Marie.

The year 1976 saw big changes for Highway 69. The portion of highway south of MacTier was shifted onto the routing of former Highway 103, completely absorbing that roadway into its length. The former routing was renamed Highway 169. It was at this time that Highway 69 was at its longest, from Highways 12 and 400 near Port Severn, to Highway 17 in Sudbury.

Since 1989, Highway 400 has been extended gradually northward towards Sudbury, and now reaches Parry Sound. However, as of 2009 the Highway 69 designation has been truncated at MacTier, rather than Parry Sound, in the south — the two highways share a routing for 14.6 kilometres between Parry Sound and Rankin Lake Road, and then follow separate routes between Rankin Lake Road and Highway 69's southern terminus near MacTier. Between Rankin Lake Road and Lake Joseph, this southerly route falls within the Parry Sound District, which has no upper tier of municipal government to maintain it as a county road, and is too important of a road to be downloaded to the townships involved — as a result, the provincial government cannot decommission that portion of the route as a provincial highway, although it may eventually be renumbered as a secondary highway.

Four-laning

The commitment to expand Highway 69 to a full freeway was originally made in 1991 by the New Democrat government of Bob Rae. Although construction did commence northward from Waubaushene at the highway's southern end, the project was curtailed by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris shortly after the 1995 provincial election, with construction ending at the highway's current terminus in Parry Sound.

The city of Sudbury continued to lobby for the highway's expansion, calling attention especially to an ongoing series of fatal car accidents at the intersection of Highway 637, where a sharp S-curve in Highway 69's route renders the approaching intersection effectively invisible to northbound traffic. Assisted by Rick Bartolucci, the Liberal MPP for Sudbury, the Crash 69 committee of Sudbury residents campaigned throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s to have the project reinstated. The revived construction to Sudbury was announced in 2002 by Harris' successor (and former MPP for Parry Sound—Muskoka), Ernie Eves.

In 2004, construction began on the segment from Sudbury southwards to Estaire, and route planning studies were completed for the Estaire to Parry Sound branch. Although the timetable may be subject to change, the four-laned route is scheduled to be completed in its entirety by 2017. Portions of the route will be opened to traffic as construction is completed — the next segment north of Parry Sound is currently scheduled to open in 2010.[1] Along the segment from the current Highway 400 terminus to Nobel, traffic currently travels on the new set of freeway lanes, while the existing lanes are closed for regrading. The segment will remain a two-lane roadway until the Nobel bypass is completed in 2010. It is unclear what the designation of the existing Highway 69 will become after the bypass opens; it is possible that it could retain the Highway 69 designation (with the bypass only signed as Highway 400), it could be renumbered as an extension of Highway 559 or it could be decommissioned as a provincial highway and turned over to the township of McDougall.

Work has also commenced on a realignment of the controversial S-curve at Highway 637. A new four-lane route at this location is currently under construction, but only two lanes will be opened until adjacent portions of the highway are four-laned.[2] The realigned two-lane route is scheduled for completion in 2010, with the second set of freeway lanes through the area scheduled for completion in 2012.

Once the four-lane expansion project is complete, the highway will be fully renumbered as Highway 400. Northern sections will retain the 69 designation until the freeway is fully connected.

The 20 kilometre section south of Sudbury from near Richard Lake to Estaire was opened for traffic on November 13, 2009.[3]

Concurrently with the final stages of construction on Highway 69, the Highway 17 freeway in Sudbury will be extended eastward to the Coniston neighbourhood along the city's Southwest and Southeast Bypasses. In preparation for this latter project, an interchange opened in 2008 at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sudbury's Long Lake Road.

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Status of construction activity

  • Currently under construction:
Estaire to Highway 637 (8 km)[4]
Realignment of Highway 69/Highway 637 intersection (4 km)
Nobel bypass, from existing terminus in Parry Sound to Highway 559 (17 km)
  • Planning, engineering and property acquisition:
Highway 559 to Shebeshekong Road (16 km)
Shebeshekong Road to Highway 529 (11 km)
Highway 529 to Harris Lake Road (14 km)
Harris Lake Road to Highway 522 (27 km)
Highway 522 to Highway 64 (25 km)
Highway 64 to Highway 637 (10 km)

Interchanges

MacTier to Nobel

Distances in this segment are based on the exit numbering of Highway 400.

Municipality Distance Destinations Notes
Georgian Bay 189 Hwy 400 Terminus of Highway 69
Seguin 213 Hwy 400 Route duplexes with Highway 400 northward to Parry Sound.
214 Seguin Trail Road, Horseshoe Lake Road
217 Oastler Park Drive, Badger Road
220 Hwy 518 (Hunter Drive) – Orrville
Parry Sound 224 Bowes Street, McDougall Road
225 Highway 400 terminates; Highway 69 continues.
229 Parry Sound Drive Currently a two-lane-to-two-lane interchange; lane expansion is under construction.
McDougall 231 Hwy 124 (Parry Sound Drive) Under construction.
237 Nobel access road Under construction.
241 Highway 559 Under construction.

Killarney to Sudbury

Interchanges on the segment immediately south of Sudbury are not yet numbered, because of the route's discontinuity with the Parry Sound freeway segment. Accordingly, note that distances currently listed in this table are approximated southward from the Sudbury terminus of Highway 69, and are not posted exit numbers.

When the freeway construction between Sudbury and Parry Sound is complete, the posted exit numbers are expected to be in the 350-400 range, as they will be numbered northward from Toronto.

Municipality Distance Destinations Notes
Sudbury, Unorganized 32 Hwy 637 Under construction.
20 Nelson Road Access to town of Estaire. Opened in 2009.
Greater Sudbury 13 Hwy 537 Opened in 2009.
6 Estaire Road Opened in 2009.

Other notes

At one time, Highway 69 continued through Sudbury and into the suburban towns of Valley East and Capreol. Although this route is no longer part of the provincial highway, and is officially designated as a series of Sudbury Municipal Roads, it continues to be referred to locally as "Highway 69 North".

References

External links

Preceded by
Ontario 17.svg Highway 17
Trans-Canada Highway
Ontario 69.svg Highway 69
Succeeded by
Ontario 400.svg Highway 400

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