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Highway 17 is the primary route of the Trans-Canada Highway through Ontariomarker, Canada. It begins at the western limit of Highway 417 near Arnpriormarker, and continues west to the Manitobamarker border.

It is Ontario's longest provincial highway, with a length of about 1,960 km (1,220 miles).

The highway once extended even farther to the Quebecmarker border in East Hawkesburymarker for a peak length of about 2,140 km (1,330 miles). However, a section of Highway 17 "disappeared" when the Ottawa section of it was upgraded to the freeway Highway 417 in 1971. Highway 17 was not re-routed through Ottawa, nor did it share numbering with Highway 417 to rectify the discontinuity, even though Highway 417 formed a direct link between the western and eastern sections of Highway 17. However, from East Hawkesbury to Ottawa, Highway 17 retained the Trans-Canada Highway routing and signs until it met up again and merged with Highway 417.

History

In 1930, Highway 17's extent was between the Ontario-Quebec border and Pembrokemarker. However, there was a connecting roadway west of Pembroke through North Bay, Sudbury and reaching Sault Ste. Marie at that time, although this was not part of the King's Highway system.

The last gravel stretch of Hwy 17 was located west of Ignacemarker and was paved in 1967.

In 1997 the provincial government transferred the ownership of a large number of regional roads to municipalities (also known as "provincial downloading"). Since then all portions east of Arnprior have been turned back with the construction of Highway 417 westward to Arnprior. What was Highway 17 east of the intersection 113 (known locally as "the Split") in Ottawa is now designated Regional Road 174 and lost its Trans-Canada Highway designation to Highway 417.

As construction of Highway 417 continues westward, it will absorb Highway 17, shortening its length.

Freeway and expressway segments

The first freeway portion of Highway 17 was the Queensway in Ottawa, built as a cross-town superhighway. This eventually connected to Highway 417 which was built east of Ottawa to the Quebec border as an original designation and alignment.
The highway has an existing freeway segment in Greater Sudburymarker, extending for 21 kilometres between the communities of Whitefish and Lively. This segment bypassed the former route now known as Municipal Road 55.

Rail bridge over the Garden River, aside of the former alignment of Highway 17 before being bypassed.
A segment from Sault Ste.marker Mariemarker to Desbaratsmarker is divided expressway with grade-level intersections rather than interchanges, and many points of private access. From Desbarats to Echo Baymarker, the expressway was constructed in the 1980s by twinning the existing roadway — the remainder of the route into Sault Ste. Marie is a new bypass route constructed in the 2000s and opened to traffic on October 31, 2007. The former alignment of Highway 17 through this area is now designated as Highway 17B following a dispute between the province, which initially designated it as a continuation of Highway 638, and the Garden River First Nation through which the route travels, which insisted on the business route designation.

The urban alignments of Highway 17 through Thunder Baymarker and North Baymarker are also four-lane expressways with reduced, although not fully controlled, access. These two routes directly intersect only with major city thoroughfares, with minor streets ending at networks of service roads next to the highway.

However, as these four-lane segments are not currently connected to other portions of Ontario's freeway network, they will remain designated as Highway 17 for the foreseeable future.

Future construction

Limited discussion has taken place regarding the potential freeway conversion of Highway 17's entire route from Sault Ste. Marie to Arnprior, but to date no formal project planning or scheduling has been undertaken for the most part. Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti has spearheaded a petition to have the highway four-laned, similar to the campaign previously undertaken by his caucus colleague Rick Bartolucci pertaining to the extension of Highway 400.

However, several current projects are underway at specific locations along the highway.

Renfrew County

Studies are underway on the extension of Highway 417 through the Ottawa Valley region from its current terminus at Arnpriormarker to Petawawamarker. From Arnprior to Haley Stationmarker and from Meathmarker to Petawawa, the proposed freeway route largely follows the existing alignment — in these areas, the current highway route largely avoids existing communities, and thus a second set of lanes can be easily added alongside the existing route. Within the township of Whitewater Regionmarker, however, a new alignment is planned several kilometres east of the existing road in order to bypass communities such as Cobdenmarker.

Sudbury

The provincial government has announced that in the 2010s, near the completion date of the Highway 400 extension, the existing Highway 17 freeway segment in Greater Sudbury will be extended eastward to Coniston along the Southwest and Southeast Bypasses. Early planning studies have already taken place, and construction began in 2007 on an interchange at Highway 17 and Long Lake Road in the south end of the city which was opened in 2008.

Environmental studies have also been completed on the freeway's westerly extension to McKerrow, near Espanolamarker, but no construction schedule has been announced to date.

Sault Ste. Marie

At Sault Ste.marker Mariemarker, the expressway segment currently ends six kilometres short of its eventual terminus at Black Road and Second Line, as an agreement has yet to be reached with the Batchawana First Nation regarding land use through Rankin.

Completion of the segment is not currently expected until at least 2015. In the interim, highway traffic travels between the expressway and the current highway alignment through Sault Ste. Marie by means of the previously-planned northerly extension of Trunk Road. The former segment of Highway 17 through Garden River was initially redesignated as part of Highway 638, although the Garden River First Nation disputed this designation and insisted that the highway be renamed Highway 17B. As of February 2009, the former route is now designated as Highway 17B.

Thunder Bay and Kenora Areas

Construction started in 2004 on a westerly extension of Thunder Bay's Harbour Expressway, from the Thunder Bay Expressway to Vibert Road, intended to serve as a new alignment for Highways 11 and 17.

In July, 2008 the federal and provincial governments announced a $6.2 billion infrastructure program that makes the four-laning of Hwys. 11 and 17 near Kenora and Thunder Bay a priority. Engineering work on twinning 11/17 between Nipigon and Thunder Bay is to begin in 2008.

On May 1st 2009 the federal and provincial government announced that twinning of Highway 11/17 would begin in 2010.

On May 15th 2009 the federal and provincial government announced that twinning of Highway 17 at the Manitoba/Ontario border easterly would begin in 2010.

Communities

Communities that Highway 17 travels through or near, listed from east to west:

Highway 17 looking east towards Stonecliffe.
Highway 17 near Wawa.


Business routes

Highway 17 used to have a number of business routes, but all of them have been deleted. All were at one time the primary route of Highway 17 through their respective locations, and were given the business route designation following the construction or designation of a newer bypass alignment.



References

  1. Road Map of Ontario, 1930-31, Ontario Department of Public Highways
  2. 4 Lane 17.
  3. http://www.sudburyswbypass.ca/FAQ's.htm, accessed April 8, 2007
  4. Google Maps
  5. "McGuinty Government Secures Partnership To Improve Northern Highways", MNDM, November 21, 2003.
  6. [1]
  7. [2]
  8. [3]


External links




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