Hwy 98 Sign Graphic Hwy 98 Title Graphic Hwy 98 Sign Graphic   

Ontario Highway 98 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1938-1971
  • Current Status: Decommissioned in 1971
  • Current Names: Provincial Road, Essex Road 46 & Chatham-Kent Road 8
  • Location: Southern Ontario
  • Counties Served: Essex & Chatham-Kent
  • Towns Served: Windsor, Tilbury & Blenheim
  • Western Terminus: Hwy 2 (Division Road) - Windsor
  • Eastern Terminus: Hwy 3 - Blenheim
  • Length in 1968: 88.6 km / 55.0 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 through Essex County between Windsor and Tilbury was renumbered as Highway 98 (See Map). At the time of the route number change in 1938, the entire highway was already paved between Windsor and Tilbury. In 1941, Highway 98 was extended easterly into Kent County from Tilbury to Blenheim. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared by the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) on February 28, 1941, which showed the proposed assumption of the existing "Middle Road" from Tilbury to Blenheim via Merlin and Charing Cross as a provincial highway. The DHO acquired jurisdiction over the Middle Road on April 30, 1941, and designated the new provincial highway as an extension of Highway 98. The 1941 extension added roughly 40 km to the highway's length. The 1941 extension also bypassed a short section of the existing route of Highway 98 through Downtown Tilbury via Queen Street, 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. The DHO did not assume jurisdiction over the sections of Highway 98 which passed through the City of Windsor or the Town of Blenheim. The non-assumed section of Highway 98 (Marlborough Street) through the Town of Blenheim was designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by an Order-in-Council, effective December 11, 1958.

The non-assumed route of Highway 98 through the City of Windsor was rather complicated. When Highway 98 was first established in 1938, the highway approached Windsor on Middle Road (today's Provincial Road). At Division Road, Highway 98 merged with Highway 2 and the two highways continued on a concurrent route up to Howard Avenue. At that point, Highway 98 parted ways with Highway 2, turned left (south) onto Howard Avenue and crossed the Michigan Central Railway. Highway 98 then turned right onto Michigan Central Side Road (today's South Cameron Boulevard) and joined Highway 3B at Dougall Avenue, just south of the City of Windsor limits. The former junction of Highway 3B and Highway 98 was largely obliterated during construction of the E.C. Row Expressway in the 1970s and early 1980s. Highway 98 then continued northwesterly into the City of Windsor via Dougall Avenue, concurrently with Highway 3B. At Tecumseh Road, Highway 3B & Highway 98 turned right and then turned left onto Ouellette Avenue. Highway 98 reached its official western terminus at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Entrance.

The route of Highway 98 was modified slightly in 1956, when the DHO decided to decommission a 1 mile section of the route of Highway 98 in Sandwich West Township. The old route of Highway 98 via Michigan Central Side Road (South Cameron Boulevard) from Howard Avenue (Highway 2) to Dougall Avenue (Highway 3B) was transferred to the Township of Sandwich West, effective August 31, 1956. After 1956, Highway 98 was signed concurrently with Highway 2 along Howard Avenue from Division Road to Tecumseh Road (Highway 39). At Tecumseh Road, Highway 2 & Highway 98 turned left and headed west to Ouellette Avenue (Highway 3B), where the two routes turned right and headed towards the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel concurrently with Highway 3B & Highway 39 (See Map). This route of Highway 98 remained in place until 1966, when the City of Windsor's limits were expanded significantly. As a result, the DHO decided to transfer jurisdiction of Highway 98 (Provincial Road, Division Road & Howard Avenue) to the City of Windsor. The highway transfer took place on July 30, 1966, and included the section of Highway 98 from the former city limits at the Canadian Pacific Railway crossing on Howard Avenue southeasterly to the Highway 401 Interchange. It is believed that the City of Windsor discontinued signing Highway 98 to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel in 1966, as the DHO's mileage logs after 1965 indicate that the western terminus of Highway 98 was situated on Provincial Road at the Highway 2 Junction at Division Road. It should also be noted that the transferred route of Highway 98 through the City of Windsor was never designated as part of the Municipal Connecting Link.

Once Highway 401 was completed, the DHO noticed a substantial shift in traffic patterns. During the 1960s, the DHO evaluated all of the provincial highways through Essex County and determined that some highways had become redundant. One of the affected routes was Highway 98 between Windsor and Blenheim, where the highway was closely paralleled by Highway 2 and Highway 401 to the north and, to a lesser extent, Highway 3 to the south. The primary purpose of Highway 98 was to serve as an alternate route to Highway 2 and Highway 3, and these two highways had also witnessed a precipitous decline in traffic volumes in the years following the completion of Highway 401. It was decided that jurisdiction over the entire route of Highway 98 from Windsor to Blenheim would be transferred to Essex and Kent Counties. The once-important alternate route offered by Highway 98 had suddenly become redundant and accordingly, the province sought to divest itself of the highway as quickly as possible. Jurisdiction over the eastern section of Highway 98 from the Highway 98B Junction in Tilbury to Blenheim was transferred from the province to Kent County, effective May 21, 1970. The Municipal Connecting Link designation through the Town of Blenheim via Marlborough Street was removed via an Order-in-Council dated June 11, 1970. Jurisdiction over the remaining balance of Highway 98 from the Highway 401 Interchange in Windsor to the Highway 98B Junction in Tilbury was transferred from the province to Essex County, effective April 1, 1971. The Highway 98 designation was retired and has not been in use ever since. 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 municipal transfers.

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