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Highway 88 was a provincial highway located in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, which connected the village of Bond Head with the town of Bradfordmarker. It was established as a Highway in 1938 and decommissioned in 1998. It continues to be used, designated as Simcoe County Road 88.

Origins

Highway 88 was built in the 1850s and was the first plank road built in Simcoe County, which originally connected Holland Landingmarker with Bond Head. The road was about 1 inch thick and was wide enough for a wagon. It was laid on the north or east part of the CNR rail line that still exists today. It is still in service , but the majority of traffic was transferred onto the south or western side of the tracks, when Highway 11 was constructed in the 1920s. The old section of the road can be accessed from Highway 11 but its bridge was torn down when the new bridge was constructed for Highway 11. Wooden pillars from the original bridge still are seen peeping out of the Holland River. It is an assumption that the bridge was constructed on the North side of the Railway because of a shorter distance between land or better shorelines. The Road in fact probably went very close to the Bradford Train station as there is a closed road that intersects at the present day Bridge, Dissette and Holland street intersection. This road is almost perpendicular to the train station. The plank road had 2 main toll booths until its conversion to Highway 88. One was located at what is now 10th sideroad and Simcoe County Road 88, and the other was located near the Holland River bridge on the south side.

Designation

When the portion of the plank road that connected Holland Landing and Bradford was seen as a necessity for a transportation route for high traffic in the 1920s, it was converted into a portion of Highway 11 that connected Toronto with northern Ontario. The old plank road that ran from Holland Landing to Bathurst Street was widened and turned into a major road while the rest was shifted about 20- 30 meters south. This was due to poor terrain to expand the road on the other side of the railway tracks. Because of this transfer, there has been a large expansion of this road even to this day.

As the 1920s continued, there was no real necessity to continue to expand the remaining portion of the plank road from Bradford to Bond Head as it was only a hamlet. However, in 1927 there was concern about how to connect Highways 11 and 27, because the only other significant highway connection was Highway 9, which was nearly 15 kilometers south and only a county road where Highway 89 would later be to extended to Fennells Corner. As well, with the newly designed and proposed Toronto-Barrie Highway (later known as the Highway 400, there would be a need for a legitimate and traffic-efficient road for automobiles to travel to Bradford and Bond Head. It wasn't until the 1930s that the government saw the great need for more highways to be built across Ontario. And in 1938, Highway 88 was finally born and designated. It had one end at Highway 11 in downtown Bradford and the other at Highway 27 in Bond Head. The Highway was a two-lane paved road, and did not have a great deal of development except in the Bradford area where it was known as Holland Street.

Highway 400

With the completion of the Toronto- Barrie Highway 400 in 1952, a new multi-lane highway emerged that would transform Barrie and Northern Ontario forever. A series of bridges and interchanges were built along the highway and every side road with an even number (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14) was cut off in West Gwillimbury at Highway 400. The remaining side roads, with odd numbers, were given access either over or under the highway. Highway 88 was given a clover leaf interchange where 8 ramps were constructed, which was one of the most expensive types of interchanges that could be built at the time. Currently, the ramps are seen as very dangerous to merge onto and off the highway as they have not been maintained or upgraded properly. As well, many accidents have occurred as the average speed on these highways has increased since the time of construction. It is one of the few cloverleaf low-standard interchanges left on Ontario's 400 series highways. As well, it is the only interchange on the original section of Highway 400 between Barrie and Toronto where there are no traffic lights servicing traffic coming off or going on the highway.

Downgrade to County Road 88

The entire Highway 88 was downgraded on January 1 1998 under a program of the Mike Harris provincial government to download several highways across Ontario to county and municipal-level governments. Highway 88 was therefore changed to become Simcoe County Road 88. The only remnants of the Highway's existence is the number 88 in its name, in addition to a few signs which remain at certain junctions. This Highway was among 49 others to be completely removed from the list of Ontario King's Highways. The highway continues to be only two lanes from Bond Head to when it reaches Bradford's town limits, where it becomes a 4-lane road and a key road to travel between Highway 400 and Highway 404.

Quick facts

  • The Highway was only 9.7 kilometers long.
  • It is seen as the precursor to what someday is expected to become the Bradford By-pass, which will link Highway 404 (or Holland Landing) with Highway 400 (Highway 11) and would later extend to Highway 427 (Highway 27).
  • The Highway was in operation for exactly 60 years.



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