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Ontario provincial highway network

The meaning of «ontario provincial highway network»

The Provincial Highway Network consists of all the roads in Ontario maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), including those designated as part of the King's Highway, secondary highways, and tertiary roads. Components of the system—comprising 16,900 kilometres (10,500 mi) of roads and 2,880 bridges[GIS 1] —range in scale from Highway 401, the busiest highway in North America, to unpaved forestry and mining access roads. The longest highway is nearly 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) long, while the shortest is less than a kilometre. Some roads are unsigned highways, lacking signage to indicate their maintenance by the MTO; these may be remnants of highways that are still under provincial control whose designations were decommissioned, roadway segments left over from realignment projects, or proposed highway corridors.

Predecessors to today's modern highways include the foot trails and portages used by indigenous peoples in the time before European settlement. Shortly after the creation of the Province of Upper Canada in 1791, the new government under John Graves Simcoe built overland military roads to supplement water-based transportation, including Yonge Street and Dundas Street. At the time, road construction was under the control of the township and county governments. Local township roads were financed and constructed through a statute labor system that required landowners to make improvements in lieu of taxes. Private companies constructed corduroy and later plank roads and charged tolls in the second half of the 19th century. The rising popularity of the bicycle led to the formation of Ontario Good Roads Association, which advocated for the improvement of roads and recreation as the automobile rose to prominence.

By the early 20th century, the province had taken interest in road improvement and began funding it through counties. The increasing adoption of the automobile resulted in the formation of the Department of Public Highways of Ontario (DPHO) in 1916. The passing of the Canada Highways Act in 1920 resulted in the establishment of a provincial network of highways. The DPHO assigned internal highway numbers to roads in the system, and in 1925, the numbers were signposted along the roads and marked on maps. In 1930, provincial highways were renamed King's Highways and the familiar crown route markers created. The DPHO was also renamed the Department of Highways (DHO).

The 1930s saw several major depression relief projects built by manual labour, including the first inter-city divided highway in North America along the Middle Road, which would become the Queen Elizabeth Way in 1939. In 1937, the DHO merged with the Department of Northern Development, extending the highway network into the Canadian Shield. Significant traffic engineering and surveying through the war years, during which construction came to a near standstill, led to the planning and initial construction of controlled-access highways. The 400-series highways were built beginning in the late 1940s and numbered in 1952.

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