History of King's Highway 58:
King's Highway 58 is a short collector highway in the Regional Municipality of Niagara, which serves the Cities of Welland, Port Colborne and Thorold. Highway 58 is one of Ontario's most extensively realigned highways. Of its current length, only about 4 km of the highway follows its original alignment. The original highway has, to a greater extent, been bypassed by Highway 406 and Highway 140.
The history of Highway 58 dates back to 1935, when the Department of Highways (DHO) acquired a land easement for highway purposes through the Welland Canal property from the Federal Department of Railways and Canals. The agreement, dated April 25, 1935, allowed the DHO to rebuild a redundant service road along the eastern side of the Welland Canal as a new King's Highway between Welland and Port Colborne. The northern end of the highway in Welland did not pass through Welland Canal property. The section between the Welland Canal property line and the Highway 3A junction in Welland was assumed as a King's Highway on September 4, 1935. At that time, the route from Welland to Port Colborne was already paved. The new Welland-Port Colborne Highway was designated as King's Highway 58.
Further changes came to the route of Highway 58 in 1937. On October 6, 1937, the existing road between Thorold and the Highway 8 Junction east of St. Catharines was assumed as a new King's Highway. It was decided at that time that the Highway 58 designation should be extended north from Welland to St. Catharines, in order to provide a consistent route number across the Niagara Peninsula. As a result, the DHO renumbered the existing route of Highway 20A between Allanburg and Thorold as Highway 58. Between Welland and Allanburg, the new Highway 58 designation ran concurrently with the existing route of Highway 3A. A short diversion for Highway 3A and Highway 58 was completed at the north side of Welland in 1937, which saw Merrittville Highway realigned so that it formed a continuous through route with North Main Street (now known as Niagara Street). The new diversion, about a half-mile in length, was designated as a King's Highway on November 30, 1937. The old Highway 3A and Highway 58 alignment, via Aqueduct Street, was later transferred back to the City of Welland.
The route of Highway 58 between Welland and Port Colborne was modified extensively during the 1950s. In the mid-1950s, Welland County constructed a new county road, known as the West Side Highway, between Downtown Welland and Port Colborne. On July 17, 1958, the DHO assumed the West Side Highway as a new route for Highway 58. This relocation of Highway 58 was necessitated by the proposed realignment of the Welland Canal near Welland. A portion of the existing highway would eventually be required for the new canal alignment near Dain City. The relocated Highway 58 was about two kilometres to the west of the existing route of Highway 58 that had been designated back in 1935. As a result of the highway realignment south of Welland, Highway 58 was rerouted through Welland from its original route along Niagara, King and Canal Bank Streets to the new route via West Side Road. The old Highway 58 alignment from Welland to Port Colborne was decommissioned on September 4, 1958. In the early 1970s, this former alignment of Highway 58 (now known as Canal Road, Kingsway and Canal Bank Street) was severed just south of Dain City when the Welland Canal was realigned across the former highway route.
In 1959, the Welland Bypass was completed and opened to traffic. This new arterial road followed the route of the Niagara-St. Catharines and Toronto Electric Railway from Thorold Road to West Side Road, forming a new western road link which bypassed Downtown Welland. The new route was called Prince Charles Drive, and was designated as Highway 3A & Highway 58 on May 28, 1959. Highway 3A & Highway 58 was also designated along Thorold Road between Prince Charles Drive and Merrittville Highway (Niagara Street). The Highway 3A designation was removed from its concurrent route with Highway 58 north of Welland in 1965. The entire route of Highway 58 through Welland was transferred on August 16, 1969 and became a municipal connecting link. The route remained signed as Highway 58 by the City of Welland and the newly-formed Regional Municipality of Niagara until 1997, when the connecting link agreement with MTO was repealed.
In the early 1960s, planning got underway for a new tunnel to carry Highway 58 underneath the Welland Canal at Thorold. The multi-year tunnel construction project commenced in August 1965. The Thorold Tunnel and its approaches were completed and officially opened to traffic on September 18, 1968. It is Ontario's longest highway tunnel, with a total length of 840 metres (0.5 miles). The Thorold Tunnel allowed traffic on Highway 58 to pass beneath the Welland Canal, uninterrupted by marine traffic. Previously, Highway 58 crossed over the Welland Canal via a swing bridge just south of the Thorold Tunnel's present location. The old swing bridge was opened whenever a ship approached on the canal, snarling traffic on the old Highway 58 throughout the shipping season. When the Thorold Tunnel opened to traffic, Highway 58 was rerouted onto a newly-constructed freeway which passed through the tunnel and bypassed Downtown Thorold. The new Highway 58 Freeway featured interchanges at Pine Street, Collier Road and Highway 406, although the latter interchange did not open to traffic until late 1969. In addition to the Thorold Tunnel project, a new route for Highway 58 was constructed south of the Thorold Tunnel which bypassed the community of South Thorold and the approaches to the old swing bridge. The South Thorold Bypass was also designated as Highway 58 and opened to traffic on September 18, 1968. The bypassed section of Highway 58 through South Thorold was decommissioned on August 20, 1970.
The completion of the Highway 406 Extension south of St. Catharines in 1969 allowed the final section of the Highway 58 Freeway to be opened to traffic. When the Thorold Tunnel first opened, traffic could only proceed on Highway 58 to the Collier Road Interchange, at which point all traffic was forced off the freeway. On November 21, 1969, the Highway 406 and Highway 58 Interchange was opened to traffic, thus completing the new Highway 58 Freeway. The Highway 406 Interchange formed the new northern terminus for Highway 58. The old alignment of Highway 58 between Thorold and St. Catharines via Ormond Street, Merritt Street and Hartzel Road was gradually transferred to the Regional Municipality of Niagara in sections between 1971 and 1975. In 1971, the newly-extended Highway 406 bypassed the section of Highway 58 from the Highway 20 Junction at Turner's Corners southerly to Merritt Road in Welland. It was decided to designate Highway 58 concurrently with Highway 406 between the Highway 20 Junction near Allanburg and Merritt Road in Welland. The old route of Highway 58 via Merrittville Highway was formally decommissioned on October 10, 1971.
In 1975, the last section of Highway 58 within the City of Welland that was still being maintained by MTO was transferred. This section of Highway 58 followed Niagara Street between Thorold Road and the Highway 406 Junction at Merritt Road. This highway became a municipal connecting link, similar to the fate of the Welland Bypass via Prince Charles Drive a few years earlier. While the route of Highway 58 was still signed in its entirety, this transfer of Niagara Street in Welland created a significant separation between the MTO-maintained sections of Highway 58 near Thorold and Allanburg, and the south section of Highway 58 between Welland and Port Colborne. In fact, the route of Highway 58 through Welland was not even marked on some Ontario Official Road Maps from the early 1980s, despite the fact that the highway was apparently still signed in its entirety by the municipality. Regardless of the route's official status through Welland, it was becoming clear that the MTO was regarding Highway 58 as a redundant highway. In 1995, Highway 406 was completed between Merritt Road and East Main Street along the eastern side of Welland. The completion of Highway 406 allowed through traffic to access Port Colborne directly via Highway 140. This immediately removed the province's need to maintain a municipal connecting link agreement for Highway 58 through Welland, as it logical to assume that through traffic would prefer to access Port Colborne via the Highway 406 Extension and Highway 140 instead. On March 31, 1997, the connecting link agreement for Highway 58 through Welland was repealed, and the bypassed section of Highway 406 and Highway 58 along Merritt Road was transferred.
On January 1, 1998, the section of Highway 20 and Highway 58 from the Highway 406 Junction to Black Horse Corners was downloaded. Since 1998, Highway 58 has discontinuous "north" and "south" segments. The south segment runs from the Highway 3 Junction in Port Colborne to the Highway 58A Junction in Welland, while the north segment runs from the Highway 20 Junction at Black Horse Corners to the Highway 406 Interchange in Thorold. The south segment of Highway 58 from Port Colborne to Welland is 6.9 km in length while the north segment of Highway 58 through Thorold is 7.8 km in length. The concurrent designation of Highway 406 and Highway 58 was also discontinued in the late 1990s, although a single sign marking the concurrent designation somehow survived on Highway 406 up until 2007. Unlike most other downloaded King's Highways, the sections of Highway 58 that were lost to the downloading spree of 1997-1998 are more commonly referred to by their municipal street names rather than the former Highway 58 designation. Given the very convoluted route of former Highway 58 through Welland, this is not unexpected.
Highway 58 is a limited-access highway for almost its entire length, serving the Cities of Thorold, Welland and Port Colborne. A 3.6 km section of Highway 58 through Thorold is a proper controlled-access freeway with interchanges. As a result, services are not directly available on Highway 58, although they are readily available nearby on most intersecting roads. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on Highway 58 is 80 km/h (50 mph). There are no tolls for vehicles to use the Thorold Tunnel. Please visit the Highway 58 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 58.
Additional Information About King's Highway 58:
Learn More About King's Highway 58 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 58 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 58 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)