Ontario Highway 417
King's Highway 417, commonly referred to as Highway 417 and the Queensway through Ottawa, is a 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. It connects Montreal (via A40) with Ottawa, and is the backbone of the transportation system in the National Capital Region. Within Ottawa, it forms part of the Queensway west from Highway 7 to Ottawa Regional Road 174 (the Queensway continues east along the 174 to Trim Road). Highway 417 extends from the Quebec border (near Hawkesbury) to Arnprior, where it continues westward as Highway 17. Aside from the urban section through Ottawa, Highway 417 passes through farmland that dominates much of the fertile Ottawa Valley.
|Queensway (within Ottawa)|
|Length||192.0 km (119.3 mi)|
Within Ottawa, the Queensway was built as part of a grand plan for the city between 1957 and 1966, and later reconstructed to its present form throughout the 1980s. The eastern section, from Gloucester to the Quebec border, opened in 1975 in preparation for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Sections west of Ottawa have been under construction since the mid-1970s, with the section bypassing Arnprior opening on November 29, 2012 and another 5.3 km stretch in December 2016.
Highway 417 is a 181.4 km (112.7 mi) controlled-access highway that traverses the lower Ottawa Valley and upper St. Lawrence Valley, bypassing the generally two-lane Highway 17 and providing a high-speed connection between Montreal and Ottawa via A-40. The freeway has also gradually been extended northwest from Ottawa alongside the old highway to its current terminus in Arnprior. Highway 417 currently has 42 interchanges from the Quebec border to Arnprior, with more planned as the highway is extended westward. Unlike other highways in Ontario and most of North America, exits are numbered from east to west.
While a significant portion of Highway 417 is a rural four lane freeway divided by a grass median, the section within urban Ottawa is a busy commuter route as wide as eight lanes. The portion of the route from the Highway 7 interchange east to the Split – a large four-way interchange between Highway 417, Ottawa Regional Road 174 and the Aviation Parkway – is known formally as the Queensway, although no indication of this name appears on any signage.
Quebec to Ottawa
Highway 417 begins at the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, east of which the four lane freeway continues as Autoroute 40. The route proceeds west along the former alignment of Highway 17, which it has served to replace. It passes through a forested and agricultural landscape en route to Ottawa, serving the communities of Hawkesbury, Vankleek Hill, Casselman, Limoges and Vars. After approximately 9 km (5.6 mi) the route curves southwest while ramps provide access from the westbound lanes to Prescott and Russell County Road 17 and from County Road 17 to the eastbound lanes of Highway 417. The route later meets the southern terminus of Highway 34 at Exit 27. Continuing southwest, the route meanders along the boundary between The Nation and North Glengarry, eventually encountering the northern terminus of Highway 138—a highway built to connect Highway 417 with Highway 401 and Cornwall—east of Casselman. At this point, the freeway enters The Nation and diverges from the boundary.
After crossing a Via Rail line, the route dips south of Casselman and curves to the west at Exit 66 (County Road 7). It roughly parallels the Via Rail line several kilometres north of the freeway, though significant deviations bypass the communities of Benoit and Limoges; the latter is served by Exit 79 (County Road 5). Near Limoges is the Larose Forest, a man-made forest planted between 1928 and 1980 over the Bourget Desert, itself created as the result of clear cutting in the 19th century. At Exit 88, Highway 417 enters the city of Ottawa, though the surroundings remain unchanged until Exit 110 (Walkley Road), near Ramsayville.
North of Ramsayville, the route jogs abruptly to the west as it crosses Greens Creek and enters the suburbs of Ottawa; an interchange with Innes Road divides the countryside to the south and east from the city to the north and west. The freeway merges with the Queensway at a large multi-level interchange known locally as the Split, curving to the west and into downtown Ottawa. The interchange also provides access to Aviation Parkway from westbound Highway 417 and from the parkway to eastbound Highway 417.
Within Ottawa, the Queensway extends from Orleans in the east and passes just south of downtown through central Ottawa to Kanata in the west. Two major interchanges anchor either end of this section: in the east, Highway 417 diverges south towards Montreal at the split, while the Queensway continues east as Ottawa Regional Road 174 and Aviation Parkway branches north; in the west, Highway 416 travels south to Highway 401. The core section of the Queensway is eight lanes wide, four per carriageway.
The freeway is elevated on a berm along some central portions of the route, providing views of downtown and the Gatineau Hills to the north. This section was constructed along a former Canadian National Railway railbed. The route bisects central Ottawa with downtown and the Parliament Buildings lay to the north of the highway and residential neighbourhoods including the Glebe to the south. Towards the Richmond Road interchange, the original western terminus of the Queensway, both sides of the freeway are lined by residential subdivisions.
Between Eagleson/March Road and Moodie Drive in the west and between Blair Road and Place d'Orléans Drive in the east, a bus-only shoulder is used by OCTranspo's Transitway rapid-transit network. Several closely spaced exits serve the downtown core of Ottawa, including Nicholas Street, Bronson Avenue and Metcalfe Street; the former was once designated as various provincial highways, most recently Highway 31.
West of Highway 416
West of the interchange with Highway 416, the freeway enters the suburb of Kanata and travels through it in an east–west direction. At Exit 145, the route encounters the eastern terminus of Highway 7, which travels southwest to Peterborough and Greater Toronto and provides an alternative route to Highway 401 via Highway 416. Highway 417 makes a broad 90-degree curve to the north to meet with the midpoint of the Carp Bypass at the former Highway 44 (now Ottawa Regional Road 49).
The Carp Bypass was built in the mid-1960s as a bypass of the existing Highway 17, which meandered through the communities of Carp, Kinburn and Antrim; the former highway is now Donald B. Munro Drive, and lies to the east of Highway 417. The bypass was built as a two lane road with full control of access, avoiding existing properties and easily facilitating the upgrade to a freeway. North of Antrim, Highway 417 travels in a straight line parallel to old Highway 17 as far as Arnprior, where it curves to cross the Madawaska River. The divided freeway ends west of Campbell Drive, northwest of the town.
Highway 417 was initially constructed as a connection between the existing Queensway and Autoroute 40 in Quebec, the latter being constructed in advance of Expo 1967 and opening December 17, 1966. However, the designation has since been applied to the Queensway west of the interchange between the two freeways.
Construction of the Queensway was driven by the Greber Plan, which was produced by Jacques Gréber under the direction of Prime Minister Mackenzie King in the late 1940s. Although Gréber had been corresponding with King as early as 1936, World War II halted any plans from reaching fruition at that time. Following the war, Gréber was again contacted and his expertise requested. He arrived on October 2, 1945 and began working almost immediately. The Greber Plan, as it came to be known, was released in 1950 and presented to the House of Commons on May 22, 1951. The plan called for the complete reorganization of Ottawa's road and rail network, and included amongst the numerous parkways was an east to west expressway along what was then a Canadian National Railway line.
With the rail lines removed, construction of the new expressway got underway in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth visited Ottawa to open the first session of the 23rd Parliament. On October 15, the Queen detonated dynamite charges from the Hurdman Bridge, which now overlooks the highway as it crosses the Rideau River, and formally dedicated the new project as the Queensway. At the ceremony, premier Leslie Frost indicated that the entire project would cost C$31 million and emphasized the importance of the link to the Trans-Canada Highway.
The Queensway was constructed in four phases, each opening independently: phase one, from Alta Vista Drive (now Riverside Drive) east to Highway 17 (Montreal Road); phase two, from Highway 7 and Highway 15 (Richmond Road) to Carling Avenue; phase three, from Carling Avenue to O'Connor Street; and, phase four, from O'Connor Street to Alta Vista Drive, crossing the Rideau Canal and Rideau River. Phase one opened to traffic on November 25, 1960, extending up to the Rideau River. On the western side of Ottawa, phase two opened a year later in October, 1961. The central section presented the greatest challenge, as an embankment was built to create grade-separations. In addition, the structures over the Rideau Canal and river required several years of construction. On May 15, 1964, the majority of the third phase was ceremonially opened, completing the Carling Avenue interchange and extending the freeway as far as Bronson Avenue. Several months later, on September 17 the short but complicated section east to O'Connor Street was opened. This left only phase four, the central section of the Queensway, which was opened in three segments. On November 26, 1965, the structures over the Rideau Canal were opened to traffic. At the same time, the westbound lanes of the Queensway were extended to Concord Street, located west of the Nicholas Street interchange. The interchange opened on January 1, 1966, allowing travel in both directions over the canal. The final segment, linking the two section of the Queensway, was placed into service on October 28, 1966. Following this, the Highway 17 designation was applied along the Queensway and the old routing renumbered as Highway 17B.
Planning was underway on a new freeway, Highway 417, that would run east of Ottawa from the Queensway, connecting with A-40 to provide a high-speed route to Montreal. Highway 17, closely following the shore of the Ottawa River as it meanders towards Pointe-Fortune, was dangerous, narrow, and accident prone, earning it the nickname of "the killer strip". The awarding of the 1976 Summer Olympics to Montreal on May 12, 1970 resulted in an accelerated construction schedule due to the anticipated high volume of traffic that would be travelling the corridor between Ottawa and Montreal during the games. Contracts to construct the new route were opened to bidding on November 15, 1968; construction began in May 1969 starting at Base Line Road (now Ramsayville Road) and proceeding easterly.
The new freeway was built under a continuous construction program over the following 6 years, opening progressively as each segment of roadway was completed. The first 16 km (9.9 mi) segment, from Ramsayville Road to Rockdale Road, near Vars, opened on September 21, 1972. By the end of that month, the easternmost 9 km (5.6 mi) of Highway 17 had been converted into a divided freeway, and construction was progressing on the remainder of the route. On October 1, 1973, a 14 km (8.7 mi) section of freeway opened between Vars and Limoges. On July 15, 1974, Minister of Transportation and Communications John Rhodes ceremonially opened the next section of Highway 417, between Limoges Road and Highland Road. The section between Highland Road and Highway 17 opened on November 8, 1974, connecting with the existing section leading from the Quebec border. The final segment of the new route, connecting the section east of Ramsayville with the Queensway, was opened to traffic on December 2, 1975. The cost of the entire eastern segment was $77 million ($330 million in 2018 dollars).
Extensions and expansions
Meanwhile, to the west of Ottawa, planning got underway on a continuation of the Queensway. This extension was designed to connect with the Carp Bypass – a portion of Highway 17 designed to bypass the old meandering route (now known as Donald B. Munro Drive) through Carp, Marathon and Antrim that opened November 9, 1965 – with an interchange and connection to Highway 7. Prior to the completion of this section of freeway, Highway 17 followed Carling Avenue and March Road from Ottawa to west of Carp. Construction began in the west end of Ottawa in 1967. On October 31, 1969, a short extension to Moodie Drive was completed, including the realignment of that road for continuity north and south of Highway 417. The following year, the freeway was extended to March Road. Construction halted at the eastern edge of Kanata for several years while a study was conducted into the merits of building the highway in a trench through the established city. During this time, construction began in 1974 on the future Queensway and Highway 7 interchange. Work also began on the two lane connections to Highway 7 as well as to the Highway 17 and Highway 44 junction west of Carp at the same time.
Upon the completion of the Ottawa–Quebec section of freeway, the Queensway was designated as Highway 417 west of The Split. With the completion of the Kanata study during early 1976, work began to build the route through the city-centre in a depressed-grade; as a result all the crossings through that section pass over the freeway. By early 1978, the western extension was opened to traffic, providing four lanes between Richmond Road and Highway 7 / 417. The two legs beyond the interchange were initially constructed as two-lane undivided roads, and remained as such for over a decade.
Throughout the 1980s, work on Highway 417 shifted from extensions to expansions. Within Ottawa, the initially four lane route, separated by a wide grass median, was expanded to eight lanes with paved shoulders and centre-mounted lighting beginning in 1982. To reduce weaving, the exit at Kent Street was removed during this work. Expansion of the two lane Highway 17 west of the interchange with Highway 7 got underway in 1991; this section was renumbered as Highway 417 as construction progressed westward. The construction saw a second two lane roadway built parallel to the existing route to create a divided freeway, a process known as twinning.
When the twinning of Highway 17 reached March Road, new contracts were tendered to continue the process northward. Bot Construction was awarded the contract for the section north to Panmure Road on December 9, 1998. On February 16, 2000, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) officially announced that Highway 417 would be extended to Arnprior over the next several years. A contract to build the freeway from north of Panmure Road to south of Arnprior was tendered in early 2002. This work was completed and the extension opened to traffic on September 24, 2004.
Concurrent with the twinning of Highway 7 between Carleton Place and Ottawa, the interchange with Highway 417 was upgraded to support the divided traffic flows; a new flyover ramp was built connecting westbound Highway 417 with westbound Highway 7. Construction began on August 22, 2006, and was opened in June 2008 along with the Highway 7 expansion.
Construction to twin the Arnprior Bypass portion of Highway 17, which included a new interchange at White Lake Road, began during the spring of 2009. The bypass was originally built in 1981 as one of a number of upgrades to Highway 17 between Ottawa and North Bay. It was intended for directing through traffic around downtown Arnprior and was designed for an eventual upgrade to a divided freeway. The major structure in this project was a second crossing of the Madawaska River. Work was completed in late 2012; the new 5.6 km (3.5 mi) section was opened ceremonially on November 29 and cost $63 million, $7 million less than projected.
Highway 417 was widened from 4 lanes to 8 lanes between Eagleson Road/March Road in Kanata and Palladium Drive (including HOV lanes), and from 4 lanes to 6 lanes between Carp Road and Highway 7. The work on the westbound lanes was completed in late-October 2014, with the eastbound lanes completed in mid-November 2014. Highway 417 was also expanded to 8 lanes between Moodie Drive and Eagleson Road/March Road to relieve congestion, especially when events occur at Canadian Tire Centre, and between Nicholas Street and Ottawa Road 174, construction of which began in 2013 and completed on-time in 2015. The additional pair of lanes were used as bus lanes temporarily, until 2018, at which point they became general traffic lanes.
The MTO plans to further extend Highway 417 westerly through the Ottawa Valley by twinning and realigning the existing route to a four-lane freeway beyond Arnprior, where it currently merges into a two-laned Highway 17. Route planning has been completed to Pembroke, with a bypass to the east of the Cobden area. The second phase of the extension to be built (phase 1 was the section around Arnprior) is a 5.3 km (3.3 mi) extension past Campbell Drive to Scheel Drive northwest of Arnprior, under construction as of June 26, 2014 and completed in 2016. Phases 3 and 4 total 22.5 kilometres (14.0 mi) and will take the 417 from Scheel Drive to a point 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Bruce Street (Town of Renfrew). The design stage of this phase was announced in August 2017.
Planning and construction efforts to upgrade Highway 17 through Sudbury and east of North Bay have prompted speculation that Highway 417 will continue to be extended west through Northern Ontario; although no comprehensive conversion plan has been announced to date, Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti has spearheaded a petition to have the entire highway four-laned from Arnprior to Sault Ste. Marie, similar to the campaign previously undertaken by his caucus colleague Rick Bartolucci regarding the extension of Highway 400. Cheryl Gallant, the federal Member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, has also advocated the four-laning of the highway through the Ottawa Valley toward North Bay, and ultimately the entire length of the highway throughout Northern Ontario.
The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 417, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Unlike other highways in Ontario, Highway 417 is measured from east to west, and as such this table is presented in that order.
|Prescott and Russell||East Hawkesbury||0.0||0.0||Ontario–Quebec border|
|5.1||3.2||5||County Road 4 (Front Road) – Chute-à-Blondeau|
County Road 14 (Prescott & Russell Road) – Saint Eugene
|9.5||5.9||9||County Road 17 west – Hawkesbury, Rockland||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; formerly |
|16.8||10.4||17||County Road 10 (Barb Road) – Vankleek Hill, Saint Eugene|
|Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry||North Glengarry||27.5||17.1||27|
County Road 34 south – Alexandria, Lancaster
|33.8||21.0||35||County Road 23A (McCrimmon Road) – Alexandria, Saint Bernardin||Provides an alternate route to County Road 34 south|
|50.7||31.5||51||County Road 9 north (Ste-Catherine Street) – Saint Isidore|
County Road 20 south (Highland Road) – Saint Elmo, Maxville
County Road 8 north – Casselman, Lemieux
|The Nation||65.7||40.8||66||County Road 7 north (Principale Street) – Casselman|
County Road 7 south (St. Albert Road) – Crysler, Saint Albert
|The Nation, Russell||79.0||49.1||79||County Road 5 (Limoges Road) – Limoges, Crysler||Provides access to nearby Calypso Park|
|Ottawa||87.8||54.6||88||Regional Road 33 (Rockdale Road) – Vars, Embrun|
|95.8||59.5||96||Regional Road 41 – Russell, Marionville|
|103.5||64.3||104||Regional Road 27 (Anderson Road)|
|109.2||67.9||110||Regional Road 43 (Walkley Road)|
|111.6||69.3||112||Regional Road 30 (Innes Road)|
|113.1||70.3||113A||Regional Road 174 east – Orléans||The Split|
|113B||Aviation Parkway||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|114.3||71.0||115||Regional Road 26 (St. Laurent Boulevard)||Westbound exit accessible only from Ottawa Regional Road 174, No Eastbound access from Northbound St. Laurent Boulevard|
|116.0||72.1||117||Regional Road 19 north (Vanier Parkway)|
Regional Road 19 south (Riverside Drive)
Regional Road 64 (Mann Avenue)
Regional Road 66 (Lees Avenue)
|To Macdonald-Cartier Bridge|
|118.6||73.7||119||Regional Road 89 (Metcalfe Street)|
Regional Road 60 (Catherine Street)
|119.2||74.1||120||Regional Road 83 (Kent Street)||Eastbound exit; Formerly Highway 17B|
|120.0||74.6||121A||No eastbound entrance|
|120.6||74.9||121B||Rochester Street||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|123.1||76.5||123||Island Park Drive||Westbound exit|
|123.9||77.0||124||Regional Road 38 (Carling Avenue)|
|125.8||78.2||126||Regional Road 17 (Maitland Avenue) – Nepean|
|127.3||79.1||127||Regional Road 15 (Woodroffe Avenue) – Nepean||Signed as exits 127A (north) and 127B (south) westbound|
|129.4||80.4||129||Regional Road 13 north (Pinecrest Road) – Nepean|
Regional Road 13 south (Greenbank Road) – Nepean
|130.7||81.2||130||Regional Road 36 (Richmond Road) – Nepean|
Regional Road 16 (Holly Acres Road) – Nepean
Bayshore Drive – Nepean
|Signed eastbound as Richmond Road / Holly Acres Road, and westbound as Richmond Road / Bayshore Drive.|
|133.6||83.0||134||Regional Road 59 (Moodie Drive)|
|137.6||85.5||138||Regional Road 49 north (March Road) – Kanata|
Regional Road 49 south (Eagleson Road) – Kanata
|139.3||86.6||139||Kanata Avenue north – Kanata|
Castlefrank Road south – Kanata
|Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|140.3||87.2||140||Regional Road 61 (Terry Fox Drive) – Kanata|
|142.7||88.7||142||Regional Road 88 (Palladium Drive) – Kanata||Canadian Tire Centre is located just southeast of this exit. The newly-constructed Tanger Outlet Mall, which opened in October 2014, is located on the north side of the interchange.|
|144.8||90.0||144||Regional Road 5 (Carp Road) – Stittsville, Carp|
|154.9||96.3||155||Regional Road 49 (March Road) – Almonte, Carp||Section west of Highway 417 to Almonte used to be Highway 44 prior to 1997.|
|170.4||105.9||169||Regional Road 20 (Kinburn Side Road) – Pakenham, Kinburn|
|180.5||112.2||180||Regional Road 29 – Arnprior, Carleton Place||Formerly Highway 29|
|Renfrew||Arnprior||184||County Road 2 (White Lake Road / Daniel Street S.) – Arnprior||Arnprior Bypass opened November 29, 2012|
|McNab/Braeside||187||Campbell Drive||Arnprior Bypass Phase 2 opened in December 2016|
|192.0||119.3||Continues as |
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
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