History of King's Highway 16:
King's Highway 16 was one of Eastern Ontario's most important provincial highways up until the late 1990s, when it almost disappeared completely as a result of the completion of Highway 416 between Highway 401 and Ottawa. Only one small section of the highway still exists. It is presently only 3.4 km long, and is now one of the shortest King's Highways in the system. However, Highway 16 once had much grander days, including holding the honour of being one of Ontario's very first provincial highways.
In 1919, the Department of Public Highways designated a new provincial highway to connect Ottawa to the Kingston-Montreal Road at Prescott. The Kingston-Montreal Road, which later became Highway 2, was the main east-west road across the eastern part of Ontario, and was the only practical highway route available at that time for traffic heading between Ottawa and Toronto. The 95 km Ottawa-Prescott Road was assumed as Ontario's third provincial highway in late 1919. However, the road was not initially assigned a route number. For the next few years, the highway was simply known as the Prescott Highway. In 1925, a new route numbering system was employed across the province, and the Prescott Highway was designated as Provincial Highway 16. The highway was not fully paved until 1929, when the last gravel section was rebuilt with a concrete surface. Provincial Highway 16 was re-designated as King's Highway 16 in 1930. In 1937, a new high-level bridge across the Rideau River was opened, which bypassed an old mid-19th Century swing bridge at Becketts Landing. Until the 1970s, the only other major change to the route of Highway 16 was the completion of the Manotick Bypass in 1961.
Several new routes for Highway 16 have been established over the years within the City of Ottawa. Originally, the route of Highway 16 followed Prince of Wales Drive into Ottawa, where the highway apparently ended at Carling Avenue (Highway 17). A new route debuted in 1940 which had Highway 16 continue east along Carling Avenue, Bronson Avenue, Chamberlain Avenue and Pretoria Avenue, concurrently with Highway 15, Highway 17 and Highway 31. At Rideau Canal Drive (today's Queen Elizabeth Drive), all four highways turned left and continued north into Downtown Ottawa. A second route of Highway 16 was established along Bank Street between Chamberlain Avenue and Wellington Street, effectively creating two routes into Dowtown Ottawa. However, these two Highway 16 routes were most likely city-established "scenic" routes, as the Department of Highways' post-1940 mileage logs still noted the northern terminus of Highway 16 at the Carling Avenue Intersection (Highway 17) in Ottawa with no change in mileage reported (58.9 miles). Some post-1940 maps indicate that Highway 16 was signed continuously along Carling Avenue, Chamberlain Avenue, Pretoria Avenue and Rideau Canal Drive, while others indicate that Highway 16 ended at the intersection of Prince of Wales Drive and Carling Avenue (Highway 17). Between 1940 and 1945, the Official Ontario Road Map shows the two routes of Highway 16 leading into Downtown Ottawa, but the route was omitted from maps dated between 1946 and 1954. It is not clear if either the Bank Street or the Rideau Canal Drive routes were actually signed after 1946, but it is quite likely that the routes continued to be signed even though they were omitted from the Official Ontario Road Maps. In 1955, a new route was established for Highway 16 that had the highway turn directly onto Rideau Canal Drive from Prince of Wales Drive. According to the Official Ontario Road Maps from 1955 to 1959, Highway 16 followed Rideau Canal Drive continuously from Prince of Wales Drive into Downtown Ottawa, concurrently with Highway 15 and Highway 17. Between Bank Street and Downtown Ottawa, these three highways were also signed concurrently with Highway 31. In 1960, all scenic routes of Highway 16 were eliminated, and Highway 16 was truncated at Prince of Wales Drive and Highway 17 (Carling Avenue).
In 1964, a new section of the Ottawa Queensway was completed, and Highway 17 was rerouted off of Carling Avenue and onto the new freeway. Accordingly, the route of Highway 16 assumed the old route of Highway 17 along Carling Avenue to the Highway 31 Junction at Bronson Avenue. In 1970, Highway 16 was again rerouted; this time the highway turned right onto Heron Road from Prince of Wales Drive, and crossed the Rideau River. The highway ended at the Highway 31 Junction at the intersection of Heron Road and Bronson Avenue. However, many road maps printed since that time, including the Official Ontario Road Maps between 1978 and 1997, show that Highway 16 turned north along Bronson Avenue and ran concurrently with Highway 31 up to The Ottawa Queensway. This concurrent route along Bronson Avenue is believed to be a city-established route, as the Ministry of Transportation's mileage logs between 1970 and 1997 indicate that Highway 16 did indeed end at Bronson Avenue, and did not continue north to The Ottawa Queensway.
Planning studies undertaken in the 1960s identified the eventual need for a four-lane highway connecting Highway 401 to Ottawa. In 1967, the Ontario Government announced plans to build a new controlled-access route known as Highway 416, which would provide a more direct link between Ottawa and Highway 401 at Prescott. The new highway would bypass the old, winding route of Highway 16 and all of the towns and communities which lined it. However, at the time, traffic volumes on Highway 16 were not high enough to justify the expense of constructing a four-lane freeway. Consequently, the Ontario Government set out to construct Highway 416 as a staged freeway. Under the plan, a new limited-access two-lane Highway 16 corridor was built on a brand new alignment which bypassed all of the towns, and in the process, prohibited all local access to and from Highway 16. Thus, the new two-lane Highway 16 could be converted into a freeway at any time in the future by building a second roadway beside the existing highway. Work began in 1968 to bypass the original Highway 16 alignment between Highway 401 and Manotick. This construction project was carried out over several stages throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. The Spencerville Bypass was completed in 1971. The remainder of the new Highway 16 alignment within the County of Leeds and Grenville was completed in 1973. This project included a bypass around Kemptville and a new bridge across the Rideau River. The old Highway 16 alignment became Leeds and Grenville County Road 44. Construction of the final section of the new Highway 16 alignment was started near North Gower in 1982, and was completed in 1984. The old Highway 16 alignment through North Gower became Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 5 and Regional Road 73.
The completion of the North Gower Bypass in 1984 essentially paved the way for the opening of Highway 416 fifteen years later, by completely eliminating all local access from the new Highway 16 corridor south of Manotick. It was now possible to convert Highway 16 into a four-lane highway, by adding a second roadway and constructing the interchanges. In the early 1990s, work began on some of the overpasses and interchanges along the future Highway 416 freeway. Construction also began on the "Ottawa Bypass" section of Highway 416 between Highway 417 and Manotick. This section of Highway 16 was deemed to be too difficult to convert to a freeway, as the area was far too developed. A new alignment for the freeway was selected, several kilometers to the west of the existing Highway 16. The first sections of Highway 416 opened to traffic in 1996 and 1997, between Highway 16 near Manotick and Highway 417. The rest of Highway 416 from Manotick southerly to 2 km north of Highway 401 was constructed by simply twinning the existing Highway 16. The final section of Highway 16 was twinned between Manotick and a point 2 km north of Highway 401 in the late 1990s. The new freeway was completed in 1999, at which time the Highway 16 designation was replaced almost entirely by the Highway 416 designation. Only the southernmost 3.4 km section of Highway 16 was omitted from the new Highway 416 freeway. The bypassed section of Highway 16 provides access to the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge to New York State, in addition to providing access to Highway 416 from Westbound Highway 401. The rest of Highway 16 was either absorbed into the new freeway or was downloaded.
On January 1, 1998, the northern section of Highway 16 from the Highway 416 junction northerly to Ottawa was downloaded. The old Highway 16 alignment became a portion of Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 73. In a rare instance of justifiable highway downloading, it was deemed that the old section of Highway 16 served only a local purpose, and was no longer needed as a provincial highway. Interestingly, most of the old route of Highway 16 through Ottawa still bears its historical name as the "Prescott Highway".
The current route of Highway 16 merely connects Highway 2 at Johnstown to Highway 401 and Highway 416. At 3.4 km, it is one of the shortest King's Highways in Ontario. Johnstown is the only community located along the highway. Most sections of Highway 16 are two lanes, but a four-lane section exists between Johnstown and Highway 401. Services are available at the Highway 401 Interchange. The speed limit on Highway 16 is 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 16 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 16.
Additional Information About King's Highway 16:
Learn More About King's Highway 16 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 16 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 16 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)