History of King's Highway 97:
King's Highway 97 was a long connecting highway which traversed South-Central Ontario from Highway 59 (originally known as Highway 19) at Hickson to Highway 6 at Freelton. The highway was originally 72 km in length when it was first designated in the 1930s, but it got progressively shorter until the road was completely removed from the provincial highway network in 1984.
Highway 97 was first assumed as a King's Highway in the late 1930s. Preliminary Route Plans dated August, 1938 show the proposed route of a new King's Highway through Oxford, Waterloo and Wentworth Counties. The new highway was assumed by the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) as King's Highway 97 on September 28, 1938. The new highway provided a more efficient east-west highway link between Galt and Woodstock. The road was extensively upgraded and realigned in the 1950s. A substantial section of Highway 97 between Galt and the Ayr Road intersection south of Roseville was relocated onto a new alignment in 1957. The meandering old route of Highway 97 via the Roseville Road and Ayr Road was replaced by a new highway which directly linked Galt to Plattsville. The new alignment eliminated the awkward jog in the highway at Roseville. The reconstruction of Highway 97 in the 1950s reduced the length of the highway to 69 km. During the early 1960s, Highway 401 was completed between Kitchener and Woodstock. The opening of this new freeway greatly reduced the provincial function of Highway 97, since its route generally followed Highway 97 either to the north or to the south. Consequently, the Ontario Government determined that Highway 97 was no longer required as a provincial highway. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Highway 97 was gradually decommissioned. On October 7, 1975, the first portion of Highway 97 was decommissioned between the Highway 401 Interchange and the Waterloo-Wentworth Boundary east of Cambridge, excluding the non-assumed section of Highway 97 passing through Cambridge itself. Two years later, the western leg of the highway between the Highway 59 Junction at Hickson and the Waterloo-Oxford Boundary was transferred. This portion of the highway was turned over to Oxford County, effective November 2, 1977. The section of Highway 97 from the Waterloo-Oxford Boundary to the Highway 401 Interchange was decommissioned a few years later. This portion of Highway 97 was transferred to the Regional Municipality of Waterloo on April 1, 1980. This left only a short 13 km section of Highway 97 between the Waterloo-Wentworth Boundary (near the west junction of Highway 52) and the Highway 6 Junction at Freelton intact. However, this final section of Highway 97 was decommissioned on August 16, 1984, which completely removed Highway 97 from the Provincial Highway System. While it is still commonly called "Highway 97", the road's official names are now Oxford Road 8, Waterloo Road 97 and Hamilton Road 97.
Highway 97 passes through a predominantly rural area of Southern Ontario. With the exception of Cambridge, the highway passes through only a handful of small rural communities along its entire 69 km route. Highway 97 offers motorists a very pleasant alternative route to Highway 401 between Highway 6 and Highway 59, although the travel time can be a fair bit higher than using Highway 401 due to traffic congestion in Cambridge and the lack of a direct connection to Highway 401 at the western end of the highway. Highway 97 is primarily a two-lane highway, although some four-lane sections exist within Cambridge. Services are surprisingly scarce along Highway 97, but they are available in most communities along the highway. The speed limit on Highway 97 is generally 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. However, rural sections of Highway 97 within the new City of Hamilton are generally posted at 70 km/h (45 mph).
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