History of King's Highway 8:
King's Highway 8 is one of the oldest provincial highways in Ontario. The highway was first established in 1918 and has since evolved into an important arterial highway linking Hamilton to Goderich, via Kitchener-Waterloo. Until the early 1970s, the highway was much longer, extending from Hamilton to Niagara Falls. In 1970, the Province of Ontario deemed that the section of Highway 8 from Winona to Niagara Falls was no longer of provincial significance, since most through traffic between Hamilton and Niagara used the Queen Elizabeth Way. The old, winding route of Highway 8 was transferred to the newly-formed Regional Municipality of Niagara, who subsequently renamed the highway as Niagara Road 81. On March 31, 1997, another portion of Highway 8 from the Highway 5 Junction at Peters Corners to the Hamilton-Wentworth Boundary near Winona was turned over to the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, including the connecting link portions of Highway 8 running through Stoney Creek, Hamilton and Dundas.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kitchener-Waterloo was bypassed by a new four-lane freeway known as the Conestoga Parkway. Additional improvements were also made to Highway 8 between the Conestoga Parkway and Cambridge in order to improve access to Highway 401 from Kitchener-Waterloo. A new four-lane freeway was constructed in several stages, with the first phase completed in 1963 and the final phase completed in 1987. The problematic partial cloverleaf interchange connecting Highway 8 to the Conestoga Parkway was rebuilt between 2002 and 2004. Highway 8 was expanded from four to eight lanes from the Conestoga Parkway Interchange to the Franklin Street Overpass. However, the highlight of this project was the construction of a new flyover connecting Westbound Highway 7 to Eastbound Highway 8. The new flyover was completed and opened to traffic in June, 2004, finally eliminating one of Waterloo Region's worst traffic bottlenecks. Between 2006 and 2012, the portion of Highway 8 from the Franklin Street Overpass to the King Street Underpass was reconstructed to provide eight through lanes. The remainder of Highway 8 from the King Street Underpass to Sportsworld Drive was widened to six through lanes as part of this expansion project. In 2012, construction got underway to widen the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 7 & 8) to six lanes between Courtland Avenue and Fischer-Hallman Road. Construction is expected to be completed in 2015.
In 2012, the awkward "triple crossroads" intersection at Peters Corners was completely reconstructed. Highway 8 was realigned so that it met Highway 52 at a four-leg modern roundabout. The eastern leg of Former Highway 8 leading into Dundas was also realigned in order to separate it from the new roundabout. The new Peters Corners Roundabout was the very first multi-lane modern roundabout ever built on an Ontario provincial highway, and only the third roundabout completed on the provincial highway system. The new Peters Corners Roundabout was officially opened to traffic on October 4, 2012, although Eastbound Highway 8 traffic had been using a portion of the roundabout's circulatory roadway since September 15, 2012, due to construction staging. As a result of the highway realignment at Peters Corners, Highway 5 and Highway 8 are now signed concurrently for about 250 metres. This was done to connect the realigned route of Highway 8 coming from Cambridge with Former Highway 8 leading to Dundas.
Highway 8 traverses a predominantly rural portion of Southern Ontario, although it does pass through several large cities and towns along its route. The principal towns located along the highway are Goderich, Stratford, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge. A 45 km section of Highway 8 is signed concurrently with Highway 7 between Kitchener and Stratford. Most sections of Highway 8 are two lanes, but a 22 km section of the highway is now a controlled-access freeway. The Highway 8 Freeway begins near Baden and continues easterly to Highway 401 in Cambridge. The freeway is mostly four lanes, but one section is currently being widened to eight lanes. There are also some undivided four-lane sections through towns and cities along the highway's 154 km length. Services along Highway 8 are generally quite plentiful. The speed limit on Highway 8 is 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. Most of the Highway 8 Freeway is posted at 90 km/h (55 mph), although one section near Highway 401 is posted at 100 km/h (60 mph). Please visit the Highway 8 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 8.
Winter Driving Tip: The western section of Highway 8 is known for poor winter road conditions. The highway is sometimes closed during periods of poor winter weather between Stratford and Goderich, due to blowing and drifting snow. Blowing snow will often result in zero-visibility conditions. The weather conditions on this highway can deteriorate very rapidly when snowsqualls blow in from nearby Lake Huron. On cold, windy days, it is a good idea to check the Road Closures and Winter Road Conditions pages on the Ministry of Transportation's Website, or verify road conditions by telephone at 1-800-268-4686 before using the western portion of Highway 8.
Additional Information About King's Highway 8:
Learn More About King's Highway 8 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 8 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 8 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)