History of King's Highway 404:
King's Highway 404 is an important freeway corridor which connects Toronto to Newmarket. The highway passes through the heart of York Region and will eventually continue north towards the Sutton and Beaverton areas on the south shore of Lake Simcoe. Highway 404 is essentially a northern extension of the Don Valley Parkway, which is an important municipal freeway leading out of Downtown Toronto. Plans for the new Highway 404 date back to the early 1960s, but the highway wasn't built until the mid-1970s. The northern portion of the Don Valley Parkway near Highway 401 was constructed in the 1960s by rebuilding the existing lanes of Woodbine Avenue as a freeway. In 1967, the Don Valley Parkway was completed to Sheppard Avenue, located just north of Highway 401. It was then decided that the Province of Ontario would construct the rest of the highway from Sheppard Avenue northerly to Highway 7 near Richmond Hill. The first construction contract for Highway 404 began in 1975. The first section of Highway 404 was completed from Highway 401 to Steeles Avenue in the Fall of 1977. The rest of the highway from Steeles Avenue to Davis Drive was completed in several stages between 1978 and 1989.
In 1999, construction resumed on Highway 404. The highway was extended northerly from Davis Drive to Green Lane, as part of a greater plan to extend Highway 404 to the Beaverton area. The extension to Green Lane was completed and opened to traffic on February 4, 2002. In 2007, the first of several construction contracts was awarded to begin construction on the Highway 404 Extension from Green Lane to Woodbine Avenue near Keswick. The 14 km extension from Green Lane to Woodbine Avenue near Ravenshoe Road was completed and opened to traffic on September 17, 2014. No construction schedule has been announced for the future Highway 404 Extension between Woodbine Avenue near Keswick and Highway 48 near Beaverton.
Highway 404 is a minimum of eight lanes, with four lanes provided for each direction of travel from Highway 401 to Highway 7. The highway is at least six lanes from Highway 7 to Aurora Road and four lanes from Aurora Road to Woodbine Avenue near Keswick. On December 13, 2005, a High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Carpool Lane was completed along Highway 404 Southbound from Highway 7 to Highway 401. This reconstruction project along Highway 404 also included a dedicated HOV-only access ramp to Highway 401 Westbound. An additional HOV lane was completed on Highway 404 Northbound from Highway 401 to Highway 7 on July 23, 2007. There is now one HOV lane in each direction from Highway 7 to Highway 401. The HOV Lanes are for the exclusive use of public transit vehicles and passenger vehicles with at least two occupants. Transport trucks are prohibited from the HOV Lanes, as are passenger vehicles with only one occupant. The intention of these HOV Lanes is to ease traffic congestion by encouraging public transit use and carpooling. Drivers who violate the minimum occupancy requirements of the HOV Lanes are subject to a fine of $110.00 and 3 Demerit Points under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. The HOV Lanes on Highway 404 have been a great success. The lanes now carry an average of over 1,300 vehicles per hour during peak travel periods. Future HOV Lanes are planned along Highway 404 from Highway 7 northerly towards the Aurora and Newmarket area. On December 9, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation announced that the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario were partnering to jointly fund the expansion of Highway 404 from six to eight lanes from Highway 7 northerly to Stouffville Road. Construction on the first phase of this multi-year expansion project is scheduled to begin in 2017. This work will include the extension of the existing Highway 404 HOV lanes which currently end at Highway 7. Completion of this highway expansion project is anticipated in 2021.
There are no Service Centres located along Highway 404, but services are available at most exits. The posted speed limit on Highway 404 is 100 km/h (60 mph), unless posted otherwise. Exits along Highway 404 are numbered based on their distance from Downtown Toronto, although the "first" exit on Highway 404 is actually at Highway 401 (Exit #17). Approximate distances along the highway can be calculated by subtracting one exit number from another. For example, the distance from Highway 401 (Exit #17) to Davis Drive (Exit #51) is 34 km (51 - 17 = 34). Please visit the Highway 404 Mileage Chart page for a list of interchange numbers along Highway 404.
Additional Information About King's Highway 404: