Ontario Highway 17 - History - The Queensway

The Queensway

See also: Ontario Highway 417

During the 1950s, the Greber Plan in Ottawa called for the creation of numerous parkways and divided highways through the growing city of Ottawa. One of these, known as The Queensway, was a grade-separated freeway that would bypass the urban alignment of Highway 17. The Greber Plan was produced by Jacques Gréber under the direction of Prime Minister William Mackenzie in the late 1940s. Although Gréber had been corresponding with King as early as 1936, World War II halted any plans from reaching fruition at that time. Following the war, Gréber was again contacted and his expertise requested. He arrived on October 2, 1945 and began working almost immediately. The Greber Plan, as it came to be known, was released in 1950 and presented to the House of Commons on May 22, 1951. The plan called for the complete reorganization of Ottawa's road and rail network, and included amongst the numerous parkways was an east to west expressway along what was then a Canadian National Railway line.

With the rail lines removed, construction of the new expressway got underway in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth visited Ottawa to open the first session of the 23rd Parliament. On October 15, the Queen detonated dynamite charges from the Hurdman Bridge, which now overlooks the highway as it crosses the Rideau River, and formally dedicated the new project as the Queensway. At the ceremony, premier Leslie Frost indicated that the entire project would cost C$31 million and emphasized the importance of the link to the Trans-Canada Highway.

The Queensway was constructed in four phases, each opening independently: phase one, from Alta Vista Drive (now Riverside Drive) east to Highway 17 (Montreal Road); phase two, from Highway 7 and Highway 15 (Richmond Road) to Carling Avenue; phase three, from Carling Avenue to O'Connor Street; and, phase four, from O'Connor Street to Alta Vista Drive, crossing the Rideau Canal and Rideau River. Phase one opened to traffic on November 25, 1960, extending up to the Rideau River. On the western side of Ottawa, phase two opened a year later in October, 1961. The central section presented the greatest challenge, as an embankment was built to create grade-separations. In addition, the structures over the Rideau Canal and river required several years of construction. On May 15, 1964, the majority of the third phase was ceremonially opened. completing the Carling Avenue interchange and extending the freeway as far as Bronson Avenue. Several months later, on September 17 the short but complicated section east to O'Connor Street was opened. This left only phase four, the central section of the Queensway, which was opened in three segments. On November 26, 1965, the structures over the Rideau Canal were opened to traffic. At the same time, the westbound lanes of the Queensway were extended to Concord Street, located west of the Nicholas Street interchange. The interchange opened on January 1, 1966, allowing travel in both directions over the canal. The final segment, linking the two section of the Queensway, was placed into service on October 28, 1966. Following this, the Highway 17 designation was applied along the Queensway and the old routing renumbered as Highway 17B.

Read more about this topic:  Ontario Highway 17, History

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