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Ontario Highway 98 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1938-1970
  • Current Status: Decommissioned in 1970
  • Current Names: Essex Road 46 & Chatham-Kent Road 8
  • Location: Southern Ontario
  • Counties Served: Essex & Chatham-Kent
  • Towns Served: Windsor, Tilbury & Blenheim
  • Western Terminus: Hwy 2 - Windsor
  • Eastern Terminus: Hwy 3 - Blenheim
  • Length in 1970: 96.2 km / 59.8 miles
HWY 98 ROUTE MARKER - © Cameron Bevers
King's Highway 98 Sign © Cameron Bevers

History of King's Highway 98:

King's Highway 98 served as an alternate route to Highway 2 and Highway 3 in Southwestern Ontario in the days before the completion of Highway 401. Highway 98 was created out of a route renumbering in 1938. That year, the entire 55 km route of Highway 2A between Windsor and Tilbury was re-designated as Highway 98 (See Map). The original section of Highway 98 was already paved between Windsor and Tilbury when the route number change occurred in 1938. In 1941, the highway was extended easterly from Tilbury to Blenheim. The Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) indicated their intention to assume the existing Middle Road from Tilbury to Blenheim via Merlin and Charing Cross on a Preliminary Route Plan dated February 28, 1941. The DHO acquired ownership of the Middle Road on April 30, 1941, and designated the new highway as an extension of Highway 98. The 1941 extension added roughly 40 km to the highway's length. The 1941 extension bypassed a short section of the existing route of Highway 98 through Downtown Tilbury, which was ultimately renumbered as Highway 98B. This new extension to Blenheim essentially completed Highway 98, and brought its total length up to 96 km (See Map). This new section of Highway 98 from Tilbury to Blenheim was mostly gravel-surfaced when it was first assumed. The only paved section on the new eastern leg of Highway 98 was from Charing Cross to Blenheim. The highway was paved from Charing Cross to Merlin in 1946. The final gravel section on Highway 98 between Merlin and Tilbury was paved in 1950.

With the final completion of all four lanes of Highway 401 in 1965, traffic volumes on Highway 98 quickly declined. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that Highway 98 was flanked by Highway 2 and Highway 3 for its entire length, and these two routes had also witnessed a precipitous decline in traffic volumes in the years following the completion of Highway 401. The once-important alternate route offered by Highway 98 had suddenly become redundant and the province sought to divest itself of the highway as quickly as possible. Accordingly, the ownership of the section of Highway 98 between Tilbury and Windsor was transferred to the County of Essex on April 1, 1970. The remaining section of Highway 98 between Tilbury and Blenheim was transferred to the County of Kent on May 21, 1970. Up until the mass Ontario highway downloading spree of 1997-1998, Highway 98 was the longest provincial highway in Ontario to be lost entirely to downloading.

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