Ontario Highway 401

Enlarge ISBN (identifier) Ontario Highway 2

Highway 401 shieldA Macdonald–Cartier Freeway reassurance marker

Highway 401
Macdonald–Cartier Freeway
A map of the southern portion of the Canadian province of Ontario and environs, with the 400-series highway network superimposed. Highway 401 is shown as a red line, crossing from the lower left (Windsor–Detroit border) to the upper-right (Ontario–Quebec border, west of Montreal).
Highway 401 within Southern Ontario
Route information
Maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Length828.0 km[2] (514.5 mi)
  • Proposed 1938
  • Opened December 1947 – October 11, 1968[1]
  • Extended June 28 and November 21, 2015
Major junctions
West endOjibway Parkway in Windsor
East end A-20 towards Montreal, QC
Major citiesWindsor, London, Kitchener, Cambridge, Mississauga, Toronto, Oshawa, Kingston and Cornwall
Highway system
Highway 400Highway 402

King's Highway 401, commonly referred to as Highway 401 and also known by its official name as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway or colloquially referred to as the four-oh-one,[3] is a controlled-access 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. It stretches 828 kilometres (514 mi) from Windsor in the west to the Ontario–Quebec border in the east. The part of Highway 401 that passes through Toronto is North America's busiest highway,[4][5] and one of the widest.[6][7] Together with Quebec Autoroute 20, it forms the road transportation backbone of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along which over half of Canada's population resides. It is also a Core Route in the National Highway System of Canada. The route is maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. The speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) throughout its length, with the only exceptions the posted 80 km/h (50 mph) limit westbound in Windsor and in most construction zones.

By the end of 1952, three individual highways were numbered "Highway 401": the partially completed Toronto Bypass between Weston Road and Highway 11 (Yonge Street); Highway 2A between West Hill and Newcastle; and the Scenic Highway between Gananoque and Brockville, now known as the Thousand Islands Parkway. These three sections of highway were 11.8, 54.7 and 41.2 km, (7.3, 34.0 and 25.6 mi), respectively. In 1964, the route became fully navigable from Windsor to the Ontario–Quebec border. In 1965 it was given a second designation, the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway, in honour of two Fathers of Confederation. At the end of 1968, the Gananoque–Brockville section was bypassed and the final intersection grade-separated near Kingston, making Highway 401 a freeway for its entire 817.9-km length. On August 24, 2007, the portion of the highway between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the Don Valley Parkway / Highway 404 Junction in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, as the road is travelled by funeral convoys for fallen Canadian Forces personnel from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office in Toronto. On September 27, 2013, the Highway of Heroes designation was extended west to Keele Street in Toronto, to coincide with the move of the coroner's office to the new Forensic Services and Coroner's Complex at the Humber River Hospital.

In 2011, construction began on a westward extension called the "Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway". This new route follows but does not replace, the former Highway 3 between the former end of the freeway and the E. C. Row Expressway, at which point it turns and parallels that route towards the site of the future Gordie Howe International Bridge. An 8-kilometre (5 mi) section of the parkway, east of the E. C. Row interchange, opened on June 28, 2015, with the remaining section completed and opened on November 21. In Summer 2019, widening of the highway between Highway/Regional Road 8 in Kitchener to Highway/Regional Road 24 in Cambridge to 12 lanes was completed. There are plans underway to widen the remaining four-lane sections between Windsor and London to six lanes and to widen the route between Cambridge and Milton as well as through Oshawa. The expansive twelve-plus-lane collector–express system now existing from Pickering through Toronto partway across Mississauga will be extended west through Mississauga to Milton.

Route description

Highway 401 at Weston Road has a volume of over 500,000 vehicles per day during the summer months, making it one of the busiest stretches of highway in the world.

Highway 401 extends across Southwestern, Central and Eastern Ontario. In anticipation of the future expansion of the highway, the transportation ministry purchased a 91.4-metre-wide (300 ft) right-of-way along the entire length. Generally, the highway occupies only a portion of this allotment.[8] It is one of the world's busiest highways;[6] a 2016 analysis stated the annual average daily traffic (AADT) count between Weston Road and Highway 400 in Toronto was nearly 420,000,[9] while a second study estimates that over 500,000 vehicles travel that section on some days.[5] This makes it North America's busiest roadway, surpassing the Santa Monica Freeway in Los Angeles and I-75 in Atlanta.[7][10] The just-in-time auto parts delivery systems of the highly integrated automotive industry of Michigan and Ontario have contributed to the highway's status as the world's busiest truck route,[11] carrying 60 percent of vehicular trade between Canada and the US.[7]

Highway 401 also features North America's busiest multi-structure bridge at Hogg's Hollow in Toronto.[11] The four bridges, two for each direction with the collector and express lanes, carried an average of 373,700 vehicles daily in 2006.[2] The highway is one of the major backbones of a network in the Great Lakes region, connecting the populous Quebec City–Windsor corridor with Michigan, New York and central Ontario's cottage country.[12] It is the principal connection between Toronto and Montreal, becoming Autoroute 20 at the Ontario–Quebec border.[13]

Southwestern Ontario

The Highway 401 extension in Windsor, opened in 2015, is a six-lane below-grade roadway with tunnels and greenspace. It will connect to the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Highway 401 does not yet extend the last few kilometres to Detroit;[14] an extension to Brighton Beach (at the Canada–US border in Windsor) was completed in November 2015, after which the Gordie Howe International Bridge will extend Highway 401 across the Canada–United States border to a connection through Delray to Interstate 75 in Michigan by the end of 2024.[15] At present, Highway 401 begins as a six-lane freeway at the west end of the E. C. Row Expressway. At the Dougall Parkway, the highway turns east and exits Windsor.[16] From here, Highway 401 mostly parallels the former route of Highway 98 from Windsor to Tilbury.[17]

Highway 401 widens to six lanes at Highway 402 in London.

Southwestern Ontario is flat, primarily agricultural land, that takes advantage of the fertile clay soil deposited throughout the region.[18][19] The main river through the region is the Thames River, which drains the second largest watershed in southern Ontario and largely influences the land use surrounding the highway;[20] It parallels the route to the north between Tilbury and Woodstock.[16]

Near Tilbury, Highway 401 loses its tall wall median barrier and narrows to four lanes, following lot lines laid between concession roads in a plan designed to limit damage to the sensitive agricultural lands through which the highway runs.[21] Here the highway's flat and straight route is notorious for leading to driver inattention.[22] The section from Windsor to London (especially west of Tilbury) has become known for deadly car accidents and pile-ups, earning it the nickname Carnage Alley.[23] As the highway approaches London, Highway 402 merges in,[16] resulting in a six-lane cross-section.[24][25] Within London, it intersects the city's two municipal expressways, Highbury Avenue and the Veterans Memorial Parkway.[26]

The section between London and Woodstock generally parallels the former Highway 2 but lies on the south side of the Thames River.[16] This area is not as flat but the highway is generally straight. This part of Highway 401 often experiences heavy snowsqualls in early winter, sometimes extending as far east as Toronto. To the south of Woodstock, Highway 401 curves northeast and the western terminus of Highway 403 merges into it.[26] From here the highway heads towards Kitchener and Cambridge, substantially north of the route of the former Highway 2 as Highway 403 assumes the role of paralleling the former Highway 2 all the way to Mississauga. Heading towards Kitchener the highway intersects with Highway 8 and returns to its eastward orientation.[16][27] From Highway/Regional Road 8 to Highway/Regional Road 24 in Cambridge the highway widens to 12 lanes in order to accommodate the large amount of traffic which uses Highway 8, then Highway 401 and then Regional Road 24 to travel between Kitchener and Cambridge. This 12-lane section opened in summer 2019; construction on it had commenced on June 8, 2015.[28] [29][30] Beyond Highway/Regional Road 24, the highway returns to a six-lane cross section and meanders towards Milton, passing through hills and rock cuts along the way.[31]

Greater Toronto Area

Highway 401 between Highway 410 and Highway 403 in Mississauga
A video camera mounted on a tall pole on the side of a roadway. The camera is not pointing at the roadway visible at the bottom-right of the picture, but to the left.
Traffic cameras are mounted at every exit within Toronto and form one part of the COMPASS system.
"The Basketweave", just east of the Highway 400 interchange, is a free-flowing crossover between the collector and express lanes.

As Highway 401 approaches the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), it descends through the ecologically protected Niagara Escarpment to the west of Milton.[32][33] Upon entering the town, it enters the first urbanized section of the GTA, passing through two rural areas between there and Oshawa.[16][34] The first rural gap is the western side of Toronto's Greenbelt, a zone around Toronto protected from development.[32] After this 10 km (6.2 mi) gap, the highway interchanges with the Highway 407 Express Toll Route. Within the GTA, the highway passes several major shopping malls including Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Scarborough Town Centre and Pickering Town Centre.[35][36][37]

Highway 401 widens into a collector-express system[38] as it approaches Hurontario Street in Mississauga, a concept inspired by the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago.[8] The system divides each direction of travel into collector and express lanes,[39] giving the highway a wide span and four carriageways. To avoid confusion between carriageways, blue signs are used for the collector lanes and green signs for the express lanes. Unlike the collector lanes, which provide access to every interchange, the express lanes only provide direct access to a select few interchanges. Access between the two is provided by transfers, which are strategically placed to prevent disruptions caused by closely spaced interchanges.[40] The overall purpose of the collector-express system is to maximize traffic flow for both local and long-distance traffic. In addition, Highway 401 was equipped with a traffic camera system called COMPASS in early 1991.[41] Using closed-circuit television cameras, vehicle detection loops and LED changeable-message signs, COMPASS enables the MTO Traffic Operations Centre to obtain a real-time assessment of traffic conditions and alert drivers of collisions, congestion and construction.[42] The system stretches from the Highway 403 / 410 interchange in Mississauga to Harwood Avenue in Ajax.[43]

Two sets of collector-express systems exist in the GTA. The first set is 6.6 km (4.1 mi) long and connects Highway 403, Highway 410 and Highway 427.[44] This system primarily serves to accommodate and organize various traffic movements from the Highway 403 / 410 and Highway 427 interchanges along Highway 401, replacing an earlier plan that would have run Highway 403 directly to Eglinton Avenue and the never-built Richview Expressway.[45] East of the interchange with Renforth Drive, the collector lanes diverge to become the on-ramps to Highway 427 northbound and southbound. The second 43.7 km (27.2 mi) system passes through the centre of Toronto and ends in Pickering to the east.[46] The 5 km (3.1 mi) gap between the two systems is a traffic bottleneck. However, the interchange cannot accommodate future widening of Highway 401.[10]

Highway 401 widens to 18 lanes south of Toronto Pearson International Airport.[7] Progressing eastward, eight lanes are carried beneath the large spaghetti junction at Highway 427. The highway curves northeast and follows a power transmission corridor to Highway 409, which merges with the mainline and forms the collector lanes. It returns to its eastward route through Toronto, now carrying 12–16 lanes of traffic on four carriageways.[38][47] Highway 401 is often congested in this section, with an average of 442,900 vehicles passing between Weston Road and Highway 400 per day as of 2008.[2][7] In spite of this congestion, it is the primary commuting route in Toronto; over 50 percent of vehicles bound for downtown Toronto use the highway.[48]

Different colours are used on the signs on Highway 401's collector-express system to avoid confusion. The express lanes use green signs and the collector lanes use blue.

East of Highway 400 is The Basketweave, a criss-crossing transfer between the express and collectors carriageways,[38] beyond which is Yorkdale Centre. Twelve lanes pass beneath a complicated interchange with Allen Road, built to serve the cancelled Spadina Expressway. Further east, the highway crosses Hogg's Hollow, over the West Don River and Yonge Street in the centre of Toronto, the busiest multi-span bridge crossing in North America, surpassing the Brooklyn Bridge. It then crosses the East Don River and climbs toward the Don Valley Parkway, which provides access to downtown Toronto and Highway 404, which provides access to the suburbs to the north. Progressing eastward, the highway continues through mostly residential areas in Scarborough, eventually reaching the Rouge Valley on the city's eastern edge and crossing into Pickering.[38]

West of Pickering, Highway 401 again meets former Highway 2, which thereafter parallels it to the Ontario–Quebec border.[16] As the highway approaches Brock Road in Pickering, the collector and express lanes converge, narrowing the 14-lane cross-section to 10, divided only at the centre.[47] It remains this width as it passes into Ajax,[38] before narrowing to six lanes at Salem Road.[49] Planned expansions east of Salem to improve flow leading into the Highway 412 and Lakeridge Road interchanges will see the highway widened to ten lanes as far as Brock Street in Whitby, where the existing interchange will be reconfigured.[50]

East of Ajax, the highway passes through the second 3.5 km (2.1 mi) rural gap, and enters Whitby. The stretch of Highway 401 through Whitby and Oshawa features several structures completed during the initial construction of the highway in the 1940s.[10] Several of these structures are to be demolished, either due to their age, or to prepare for the planned widening of Highway 401 through this area.[51] A former Canadian National Railway overpass, which was fenced off but commonly used by pedestrians during Highway of Heroes repatriations, was demolished on the night of June 11, 2011. A second structure in Bowmanville was demolished during two overnight closures on July 9 and 16.[52] At Harmony Road, the suburban surroundings quickly transition to agricultural land. The highway curves around the south side of Bowmanville and travels towards Highway 35 and Highway 115.[34]

Eastern Ontario

A four-lane divided highway among short hills travels into the background and curves to the right. The two divided halves are separated by a depressed swampy median.
Through much of eastern Ontario, Highway 401 is rural freeway with a grass median.

From east of Highway 35 and Highway 115 to Cobourg, Highway 401 passes through a mix of agricultural land and forests, maintaining a straight course.[53] Just east of Cobourg, the highway narrows to four lanes and the terrain becomes undulating, with the highway routed around hills and through valleys along the shores of Lake Ontario.[54] At Trenton, the highway crosses the Trent Canal and returns to an agricultural setting. It then crosses the Moira River as it goes through Belleville before heading eastward to Kingston.[13] The Kingston portion of the highway, originally named the Kingston-Bypass, was one of the first sections of the highway to be completed;[1] it is now mostly three lanes each way.

East of Kingston, the highway continues through a predominantly agricultural area alongside the Saint Lawrence River to Gananoque, where it splits with the Thousand Islands Parkway,[55] one of the original sections of the highway designated in 1952.[56] The current Highway 401 runs parallel to the parkway several kilometres inland from the river. The Canadian Shield, an ancient geological formation, appears through this heavily forested section of the highway. Highway 401 rejoins the Thousand Islands Parkway immediately southwest of Brockville, now heading northeast.[57]

The remainder of the highway runs parallel to the former Highway 2 along the shore of the Saint Lawrence River within the Saint Lawrence Valley. Northeast of Brockville is the interchange with Highway 416, which heads north to Ottawa.[58] At the Ontario–Quebec border, Highway 401 becomes Autoroute 20 and continues to Montreal.[59]

Traffic volume

The MTO publishes yearly traffic volume data for provincial highways, expressed as an average daily vehicle count over the span of a year (AADT).[60] The table below compares the AADT at several locations along Highway 401 using data from 1969, 1988, 2008 and 2016.

Traffic volumes
Location Windsor London Woodstock Cambridge Mississauga Toronto Oshawa Belleville Kingston Brockville Cornwall
Section Dougall Parkway –
Essex County Road 46
Highbury Avenue –
Veterans Memorial Parkway
Oxford County Road 59 –
Highway 403
Highway 8 –
Highway 24
Mississauga Road –
Hurontario Street
Weston Road –
Highway 400
Stevenson Road –
Simcoe Street
Highway 62 –
Highway 37
Frontenac County Road 38 –
Sydenham Road
Highway 29 –
North Augusta Road
Highway 138 –
McConnell Avenue
Traffic volume (AADT) 1969[61] 9,550 17,450 16,700 19,900 28,450 106,850 29,000 13,750 12,000 10,050 10,300
1988[2] 13,200 33,800 35,100 50,400 97,100 319,600 79,000 22,500 20,700 15,300 12,900
2008[2] 16,700 64,500 67,100 125,600 177,300 442,900 120,700 43,500 45,400 29,100 18,400
2016[2] 17,500 64,200 67,500 137,300 216,500 416,500 134,200 45,300 55,000 33,600 21,400
Average annual daily traffic counts of selected sections of Highway 401 over 47 years
Lane count (March 2019)
Location E C Row Expressway to Essex County Road 42 Essex County Road 42 to Highway 402 Highway 402 to West of Hurontario Street West of Hurontario Street to Highway 403 / 410 Highway 403 / 410 to Highway 427 Highway 427 to Highway 27 Highway 27 to Highway 409 Highway 409 to Brock Road Brock Road to Salem Road Salem Road to 4.5 km east of Baltimore Street 4.5 km east of Baltimore Street to Frontenac County Road 38 Frontenac County Road 38 to Montreal Street Montreal Street to ON–QC border
Lane count 6 lanes[16] 4 lanes[31] 6 lanes[16] 10-lane collector-express system[62] 18-lane collector-express system[7] 8 lanes[10] 10 lanes[38] 12–16-lane collector-express system[47] 10 lanes[47] 6 lanes[49] 4 lanes[13] 6 lanes[63] 4 lanes[63]
Distance[2] 55.7 km (34.6 mi) 127.5 km (79.2 mi) 157.7 km (98.0 mi) 3.6 km (2.2 mi) 5.8 km (3.6 mi) 0.8 km (0.50 mi) 3.9 km (2.4 mi) 43.3 km (26.9 mi) 6.0 km (3.7 mi) 74.8 km (46.5 mi) 131.7 km (81.8 mi) 8.2 km (5.1 mi) 209.0 km (129.9 mi)
Number of through lanes on Highway 401 (excludes ongoing or planned widening projects)



A map with legend of
Highway 401 colour-coded by the year each section opened to traffic

Highway 401's history predates its designation by over two decades. As automobile use in southern Ontario grew in the early 20th century, road design and construction advanced significantly. Following frequent erosion of Lake Shore Road, then macadamized,[64] a concrete road known as the Toronto–Hamilton Highway was proposed in January 1914. Construction began on November 8 of that year, following the onset of World War I.[65][66] The highway was designed to run along the lake shore, instead of Dundas Street to the north, because the numerous hills encountered along Dundas would have increased costs without improving accessibility. Middle Road, a dirt lane named because of its position between the two, was not considered since Lake Shore and Dundas were both overcrowded and in need of serious repairs.[67] The road was formally opened on November 24, 1917,[64][65] 5.5 m (18 ft) wide and nearly 64 km (40 mi) long. It was the first concrete road in Ontario, as well as one of the longest stretches of concrete road between two cities in the world.[68]

Over the next decade, vehicle usage increased substantially, and by 1920 Lakeshore Road was again congested, particularly during weekends.[69] In response, the Department of Highways examined improving another road between Toronto and Hamilton. The road was to be more than twice the width of Lakeshore Road at 12 m (39 ft) and would carry two lanes of traffic in either direction.[70] Construction on what was then known as the Queen Street Extension west of Toronto began in early 1931.[71]

Before the highway could be completed, Thomas McQuesten was appointed the new minister of the Department of Highways, with Robert Melville Smith as deputy minister, following the 1934 provincial elections.[10] Smith, inspired by the German autobahns—new "dual-lane divided highways"—modified the design for Ontario roads,[72] and McQuesten ordered the Middle Road be converted into this new form of highway.[73][74][75] A 40 m (130 ft) right-of-way was purchased along the Middle Road and construction began to convert the existing sections to a divided highway. Work also began on Canada's first interchange at Highway 10.[70]

A highway passes beneath the camera and continues straight into the horizon. It is surrounded by forests on either side and contains no guardrail to separate opposite flows of traffic.
The former Highway 2A near Highland Creek, aside from a resurfaced pavement, has not been altered since it opened in 1947.

Beginning in 1935, McQuesten applied the concept of a dual-highway to several projects along Highway 2, including along Kingston Road in Scarborough Township.[10][76] When widening in Scarborough reached the Highland Creek ravine in 1936, the Department of Highways began construction on a new bridge over the large valley, bypassing the former alignment around West Hill.[77] From here the highway was constructed on a new alignment to Oshawa, avoiding construction on the congested Highway 2.[8] As grading and bridge construction neared completion on the new highway between West Hill and Oshawa in September 1939, World War II broke out and gradually tax revenues were re-allocated from highway construction to the war effort.[10]

At the same time, between September 6 and 8, 1939, the Ontario Good Roads Association Conference was held at Bigwin Inn, near Huntsville,[78] drawing highway engineers from across North America to discuss the new concept of "Dual Highways." On the first day of the convention, McQuesten announced his vision of the freeway: an uninterrupted drive through the scenic regions of Ontario, discouraging local business and local traffic from accessing the highway except at infrequent controlled-access points.[79] It was announced in the days thereafter this concept would be applied to a new "trans-provincial expressway", running from Windsor to the Ontario–Quebec border.[80]

Highway engineers evaluated factors such as grading, curve radius, and the narrow median used along the Middle Road—which was inaugurated on August 23, 1940 as the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)[81]—and began to plan the course of a new dual highway mostly parallel to Highway 2, with precedence given to areas most hampered by congestion. Unlike the QEW, this highway would not be built along an existing road, but rather on a new right-of-way, avoiding the need to provide access to properties.[10][79]

Along with immense improvements to machinery and construction techniques over its six-year course, the war provided planners an opportunity to conduct a survey of 375,000 drivers, asking them about their preferred route to travel to their destination. Using this information, a course was plotted from Windsor to Quebec, bypassing all towns along the way.[8][82]

Highway 2S (S for Scenic) was the first completed section of new roadway. Built to connect with the Thousand Islands Bridge at Ivy Lea and opened as a gravel road in late 1941 or early 1942,[83] the road followed the shore of the Saint Lawrence River and connected with the western end of the twinned Highway 2 near Brockville.[16] In addition, the highway between Highland Creek and Oshawa was opened as a gravel-surfaced road in May 1942.[84]

Following the war, construction resumed on roadways throughout Ontario. The expressway between Highland Creek and Oshawa was completed in December 1947,[8] while other sections languished. The Toronto–Barrie Highway was the primary focus of the Department of Highways at the time, and the onset of the Korean War in 1950 stalled construction again. Despite the delays, highway minister George Doucett officially announced the plans for construction of the new trans-provincial expressway that year, with the Toronto to Oshawa expressway serving as a model for the design.[10] Work on the most important link, the Toronto Bypass, began in 1951,[10] but it would not open with that name.

Macdonald–Cartier Freeway shields were once common along the entire highway, but were not replaced as they deteriorated with age.


A four-leaf clover shaped highway junction, located in the midst of developing suburbs.
The Highway 400 interchange in 1953. Today, the former cloverleaf has been replaced with a multilevel interchange.
A bird's-eye view of a large highway interchange under construction. Several bridges are complete, but nothing is paved, aside from one highway crossing horizontally, which detours between the bridges.
The widening of Highway 401 from four to twelve lanes in Toronto took nine years and was accomplished with at least four lanes open at all times. Shown here is the Highway 401 / Don Valley Parkway / Highway 404 interchange under construction in 1965.
A black-and-white photo shows a four-lane freeway divided by a grass median. In the oncoming lanes, traffic is congested into the distance. With few exceptions, the 401 is surrounded by farmland.
Within years after opening, the four-lane Toronto Bypass was congested, prompting the Department of Highways to widen this section to 12 lanes beginning in 1963.
Driving down a six-lane highway during the day. In front is a concrete bridge. The highway curves to the right as it passes beneath the bridge.
Highway 401 at Meadowvale Road in 1989, before being widened to a 14-lane collector-express system

In July 1952 (possibly July 1, the same day Highway 400 was numbered),[a][56] the Highland Creek to Oshawa expressway and Highway 2S were designated Controlled-Access Highway No 401,[8] a move scorned by one critic because of the lack of thought given to the numbered name.[85] Construction was completed for several sections of the Toronto Bypass: between Highway 400 and Dufferin Street in August, west to Weston Road in September, east to Bathurst Street in October and finally to Yonge Street in December.[1] Extensions east and west began in 1953; the eastern extension to Bayview Avenue opened in April 1955,[1] but the western extension was delayed by the damage caused by Hurricane Hazel on October 15, 1954, which nearly destroyed the new bridge over the Humber River. The reconstruction would take until July 8, 1955,[86] and the highway was opened between Weston and Highway 27 in September 1955.[1]

The entire bypass, including the widening of Highway 27 into an expressway south of Highway 401,[8][87] was completed in August 1956.[1][8] Upon its opening, the bypass was described by one reporter as "a motorist's dream" providing "some of the most soothing scenery in the Metropolitan area". The reporter continued, with regard to the eastern section through Scarborough, that it "winds smoothly through pastures across streams and rivers, and beside green thickets. It seems a long way from the big city."[8] By 1959 however, the bypass was a lineup of cars, as 85,000 drivers crowded the roadway, designed to handle a maximum of 48,000 vehicles, on a daily basis.[8] Motorists found the new road to be a convenient way of travelling across Toronto; this convenience helped influence the suburban shift in the city and continues to be a driving force of urban sprawl today.[56]

Meanwhile, beyond Toronto, the highway was being built in a patchwork fashion, focusing on congested areas first.[10] Construction west from Highway 27 began in late 1954,[88] as did the Kingston Bypass in Eastern Ontario.[89] Work began to connect the latter with the Scenic Highway in 1955.[88] After the 1954 New York State Thruway opened from Buffalo to New York City,[90] Michigan officials encouraged Ontario to bypass Highway 3 as the most direct path from Detroit to Buffalo.[91] By 1956, construction had begun on a segment between Highway 4 in London and Highway 2 in Woodstock, as well as on the section between Windsor and Tilbury.[92]

A blue plaque on a stone wall. The plaque has a yellow border, and is mostly rectangular in shape, with the long end oriented horizontally. However, the top side has a camel hump in the centre, with a circle centred at the top of the hump. Inside the circle is an Ontario coat-of-arms. The plaque reads: THE MACDONALD CARTIER FREEWAY This plaque commemorates the completion of the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway (Highway 401), the longest freeway operated without tolls by a single highway authority in North America. Covering 510 miles between Windsor on the Canada–US border and the Ontario-Quebec boundary, it serves the richest economic region in Canada. In January 1965, it was named by The Honourable John Robarts, Premier of Ontario, in honour of the two founding architects of the Confederation of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. This site is located on the last section of construction, consisting of 15 miles between Ivy Lea and Highway 2, which was completed on October 11, 1968.
A plaque near Brockville commemorates the official completion of the highway.

In 1958, a section bypassing Morrisburg was opened to accommodate traffic displaced from a portion of Highway 2 through The Lost Villages of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.[93] Highway 2 would ultimately be reopened on a new alignment which followed the CN rail right-of-way.

By the end of 1960, the Toronto section of the highway was extended both eastwards and westwards: first, to the east between Newcastle and Port Hope on June 30, then later to the west between Highway 25 in Milton and Highway 8 south of Kitchener on November 17.[1] By mid-1961, the section between Brighton and Marysville had opened.[94] The gap to the east, from Highway 28 in Port Hope to Highway 30 in Brighton was opened on July 20, 1961.[95]

The gap between Woodstock and Kitchener was completed on November 9, 1961, while the gap between Tilbury and London was completed two lanes at a time; the northbound lanes on October 22, 1963, the southbound on July 20, 1965.[1] The gap between Marysville and Kingston was opened by 1962.[94] The final sections, from west of Cornwall to Lancaster, were opened between 1962 and 1964;[94][96] two lanes opened to Lancaster on September 11, 1962, but the other two were not completed until July 31, 1964. The last segment, to the Ontario–Quebec border, was opened on November 10, 1964.[1] Finally, on October 11, 1968, the Thousand Islands Bypass opened.[8] This final piece was commemorated with a plaque to signify the completion of Highway 401.[10]

In Toronto, engineers and surveyors were examining the four-lane bypass, while planners set about designing a way to handle the commuter highway. In 1963, transportation minister Charles MacNaughton announced the widening of Highway 401 in Toronto from four to a minimum of 12 lanes between Islington Avenue and Markham Road. The design was taken from the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, which was widened into a similar configuration around the same time.[8] Construction began immediately. While the plan initially called for construction to end in 1967, it continued for nearly a decade. At least four lanes were always open during the large reconstruction project, which included complex new interchanges at Highway 27, Highway 400, the planned Spadina Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. The system was completed in 1972, along with the Highway 27 (renamed Highway 427) bypass between the QEW and Pearson Airport. Most of the interchanges in Toronto were reconstructed as partial cloverleafs and a continuous lighting system was installed.[10]

On January 11, 1965, at the dinner celebration of Sir John A. Macdonald's 150th birthday, the Premier of Ontario John Robarts designated Highway 401 the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway to honour Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, two of Canada's Fathers of Confederation.[97][98] Unlike other names later applied to the highway, the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway designation covers the entire length of Highway 401. Signs designating the freeway and shields with the letters 'M-C' were installed, but these had been removed by 1997.[99] In 2003, 38 years after Robarts' naming of the highway, a Member of Provincial Parliament attempted to get the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway highway name enshrined into law; the bill only passed first reading and was not enacted.[100]

In the 1970s, Highway 401 was widened to six lanes in Durham, but otherwise saw little improvement.[10] The 1980s saw more sections widened, as well as a new collector-express system between Highway 403 / 410 and Highway 427 completed in mid-1985.[101] Plans were made to extend the eastern system from Neilson Road to Brock Road in Pickering in the late 1980s,[102] but took over a decade to reach fruition by 2000.[103][104] This was followed shortly thereafter by the widening of the highway through Ajax and a new interchange at Pickering Beach Road (renamed Salem Road) and Stevenson Road.[105]

The 1990s also saw the first step in widening the highway to six lanes from Toronto to London.[106] A project in the mid-1990s brought the highway up to a minimum of six lanes between Highway 8 in Kitchener and Highway 35 / 115 in Newcastle.[107] Other projects prepared sections for eventual widening.[108]

In 1993, the stretch of Highway 401 eastbound near Milton and westbound near Whitby had chevrons painted in each lane in an effort to reduce tailgating, a concept borrowed from France and Britain. Signs advised motorists to keep at least two chevrons apart, in essence warning them not to follow too closely.[109] Some of these chevrons remained intact in the westbound lanes in Whitby until 2012, though the signs stating their use had been removed.[110]

Beginning in 1998, several projects were initiated on Highway 401 within Toronto. These included the addition of one lane through the Highway 427 interchange in 2005, as well as the resurfacing of the pavement through the city.[6]

In 2018, the final interchange ramps to Highways 403 and 410 in Mississauga were completed, making the formerly partial interchange full access.[111]

Advantage I-75

Between June 1990 and 1998, Highway 401 and Interstate 75 were used for a pilot project named Advantage I-75 to test the reliability and versatility of an automated tracking system for transport trucks. Termed "MACS" (Mainline Automated Clearance System), it allows a truck to travel from Florida to Ontario without a second inspection.[112] MACS was initially tested at two truck inspection stations in Kentucky, with transponders installed in 220 trucks. Exact time, date, location, weight and axle data were logged as a truck approached an equipped station.[113] Following initial tests, MACS was deployed at every inspection station along I-75 from Miami to Detroit, and along Highway 401 from Windsor to Belleville in 1994.[112] The project demonstrated the effectiveness of electronic systems in enforcing freight restrictions without delaying vehicles, while alleviating security fears such systems could be compromised. The concept has since been applied to many parts of Canada, including Highway 407's electronic tolling system.[114]

"Carnage Alley"

"A highway viewed from high above travels into the distance from the bottom-right to the top-left. An overpass allows a road to cross the highway near the bottom of the image. The surroundings are entirely agricultural. On the highway, several dozen vehicles are piled into each other. The middle of the large pileup is smoking."
The 87-vehicle pile up on September 3, 1999

The section of Highway 401 between Windsor and London has often been referred to as Carnage Alley, in reference to the numerous crashes that have occurred throughout its history. The term became more commonplace following several deadly pileups during the 1990s.[10] The narrow and open grass median was an ineffective obstacle in preventing cross-median collisions. The soft shoulders consisted of gravel, with sharp slopes which were blamed for facilitating vehicle rollovers.[115] The nature of that section of highway, described as a mainly straight road with a featureless agricultural landscape, was said to make drivers feel less involved and lose focus on the road. In winter, the area between Woodstock and Chatham is also subject to sudden snow squalls from lake-effect snow.[116] Several collisions have resulted from motorists deviating from their lane and losing control of their vehicles.[115][117]

Various other names, including The Killer Highway circulated for a time,[118] but Carnage Alley became predominant following an 87-vehicle pile-up on September 3, 1999 (the start of Labour Day weekend), the worst in Canadian history, that resulted in eight deaths and 45 injured individuals.[119]

Only a few days prior, then-Transportation Minister David Turnbull had deemed the highway "pleasant" to drive.[120] On the morning of September 3, the local weather station reported clear conditions due to a malfunction,[119] while a thick layer of fog rolled onto the highway. Dozens of vehicles, including several semi-trailers, quickly crashed into each other shortly after 8 a.m., one following another in the dense fog, and the accumulating wreckage caught traffic travelling in the opposite direction.[121][122] Immediately following the crash, the MTO installed paved shoulders with rumble strips[123] and funded additional police to patrol the highway, a move criticized as being insufficient.[124]

Beginning in 2004, 46 km (29 mi) of the highway was widened from four asphalt lanes to six concrete lanes, paved shoulders were added, a concrete Ontario Tall Wall median was installed,[125] which was the solution the Canadian Automobile Association promoted in 1999.[115] Interchanges were improved and signage was upgraded as part of a five-phase project to improve Highway 401 from Highway 3 in Windsor to Essex County Road 42 (formerly Highway 2) on the western edge of Tilbury.[24]

Highway of Heroes

A bridge showcased against the sky, with the ground not visible. Lining the bridge are people, some holding Canadian flags.
Canadians line overpasses along the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects to fallen soldiers.
A Highway of Heroes reassurance marker with a red poppy flower in place of a number. Above that is the text Highway of Heroes, and below it SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.
The route marker for the Highway of Heroes

On August 24, 2007, the MTO announced the stretch of Highway 401 between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the intersection of the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 404 in Toronto would bear the additional name Highway of Heroes (French: Autoroute des héros), in honour of Canadian soldiers who have died,[126] though Highway 401 in its entirety remains designated as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway.[127] This length of the highway is often travelled by a convoy of vehicles carrying a fallen soldier's body, with his or her family, from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto. Since 2002, when the first fallen Canadian soldiers were repatriated from Afghanistan, crowds have lined the overpasses to pay their respects as convoys pass.[128]

The origin of the name can be traced to an article in the Toronto Sun on June 23, 2007, by columnist Joe Warmington, in which he interviewed Northumberland photographer Pete Fisher. Cobourg resident Ron Flindall was responsible for organizing the first bridge salutes following the loss of four soldiers on April 18, 2002.[129]


Warmington described the gathering of crowds on overpasses to welcome fallen soldiers as a "highway of heroes phenomena".[131] This led a Cramahe Township volunteer firefighter to contact Fisher on July 10 about starting a petition, leading Fisher to publish an article which was posted to the Northumberland Today website.[132] The online article eventually caught the attention of London resident Jay Forbes. Forbes began a petition, which received over 20,000 signatures[126] before being brought to the Minister of Transportation on August 22.[133] Following the announcement on August 24, the provincial government and MTO set out to design new signs. The signs were erected and unveiled on September 7,[127] and include a smaller reassurance marker (shield), as well as a larger billboard version.[134]

Safety concerns and highway improvements

Highway 401 was widened in 2008 between Highway 402 and Wellington Road in London. Additional widening west of Highway 402 is planned.
An empty freeway in the middle of a city.
Highway 401 was closed during a series of propane explosions in Toronto in 2008, allowing for this rare photo of the 14-lane highway occupied by a single vehicle.

On August 10, 2008, following a series of explosions at a propane facility in Toronto, Highway 401 was closed between Highway 400 and Highway 404 as a precautionary measure, the largest closure of the highway in its history.[135] The highway remained closed until 8 p.m., though several exits near the blast remained closed thereafter.[136][137]

Between 2006 and 2008, Highway 401 was widened from four to six lanes between Highway 402 and Wellington Road in London. This included replacing the original Wellington Road overpass.[24] In Oshawa, exit 416 (Park Road) was replaced by a new interchange at exit 415 (Stevenson Road). The contract, which began September 7, 2005, included the interchange and the resurfacing of 23.4 km (14.5 mi) of the highway between Oshawa and Highway 35 / Highway 115.[138] The westbound ramps were opened in mid-September 2007[139] and the eastbound ramps in mid-2009. The resurfacing was completed mid-2010.[138]

In November 2010, the widening of Highway 401 from four to six lanes between Woodstock and Kitchener was completed after many years of planning and construction.[140] The project included the installation of a tall-wall median barrier, straightening curves and adding additional interchanges on the freeway, allowing it to be easily vacated in an emergency event.[141]

Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway

In 2004, a joint announcement by the federal government of the United States and Government of Canada confirmed a new border crossing would be constructed between Detroit and Windsor. The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) was formed as a bi-national committee to manage the project.[142] The MTO took advantage of this opportunity to extend Highway 401 to the Canada–US border and began an environmental impact assessment on the entire project in late 2005.[142] The City of Windsor also hired New York traffic consultant Sam Schwartz to design a parkway to the border. Schwartz's proposal would eventually inspire the DRIC's own design, but his route was not chosen, with the DRIC opting instead to take a northern route.[143] On February 8, 2008, the MTO announced it had begun purchasing property south of the E.C. Row Expressway, upsetting many area residents who had purchased properties in the years prior.[144][145]

On March 3, 2008, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the MTO (in partnership with Transport Canada, the Federal Highway Administration of the United States and the Detroit River International Crossing group) completed a joint assessment on the soils along the Detroit River and determined they could indeed support the weight of a new bridge; the stability of the underlying soil and clay and the impact of the nearby Windsor Salt Mine had caused concern for all parties involved in the project.[146]

Despite protest from area residents,[147] as well as a dismissed lawsuit from Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun,[148][149] it was announced on May 1, 2008, that a preferred route had been selected and the new route would be named the Windsor–Essex Parkway.[150] The new parkway is below-grade and has six through-lanes. It follows (but does not replace) Talbot Road and Huron Church Road from a new interchange at the former end of Highway 401 to the E. C. Row Expressway, where it runs concurrently westward for 2 km (1.2 mi). From there, it turns northwest and follows a new alignment to the border.[151]

Initial construction of a noise barrier from North Talbot Road to Howard Avenue began in March 2010; full construction began on August 19, 2011.[152]

On November 28, 2012, the Ministry of Transportation announced a Federal Order in Council was passed to change the name of the parkway to the "Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway", in honour of the Right Honourable Herb Gray, a Member of Parliament from Windsor.[153] In early 2015, it was announced the parkway would open to traffic between Highway 3 and Labelle Street (near the E. C. Row Expressway) in the spring;[154] an 8-kilometre (5 mi) section was opened to traffic on June 28, extending Highway 401 as far west as the E. C. Row Expressway. It was the first new segment of the highway to be opened since the Thousand Islands Bypass in 1968.[155] The stretch to Ojibway Parkway was opened on November 21,[156] completing the parkway as far as the planned bridge approach and border plaza.[157] Construction on projects related to the Gordie Howe International Bridge began in 2015 with an initial completion date in 2019–20.[158] The "Bridging North America" consortium was selected to build the bridge in July 2018. Minor construction began immediately and major construction began in fall 2018.[159] The Gordie Howe International Bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.[15]


The stretch of Highway 401 in Greater Toronto has seen dense development in recent years.

In 2007, Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield commented the MTO intends to widen all of the remaining four-lane sections to a minimum of six. With no dates set for construction or completion, this is a tentative announcement for the long-term future.[160]

Southwestern Ontario

In Southwestern Ontario, several improvements are under way to provide six lanes on Highway 401 from Windsor to Toronto,[160] in response to the 1999 Highway 401 crash in Carnage Alley.[125][161] West of Essex County Road 42 on the west of Tilbury, the highway has been widened to six lanes with a concrete divider in anticipation of the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway.[150][162]

Within the London area, traffic volumes are expected to increase considerably, leading to poor highway conditions. The province has put in place an extensive plan to widen and reconstruct the London corridor between 2006 and 2021.[163] This included building a new interchange with Wonderland Road which opened in November 2015 to help improve access to Highway 401 westbound from the city's southwest end and involved replacing the Westminster Drive overpass to allow the highway to be widened.[164] A reconstruction of the outdated cloverleaf interchange at Colonel Talbot Road[165] and widening Highway 401 from four to six lanes between Highway 4 and Highway 402 is also proposed.[166][167][168] The MTO is also planning on widening Highway 401 from six to eight lanes through part of the London corridor.[169][170]

In the Kitchener/Cambridge area the widening of the highway from Highway/Regional Road 8 to Highway/Regional Road 24 was completed in Summer 2019. Next, the interchange between Highway 401 and Highway 8 (King Street) is to be reconstructed to be a full all-directional interchange allowing eastbound Highway 401 traffic to travel onto northbound Highway 8 (towards Kitchener) and southbound Highway 8 traffic to travel onto westbound Highway 401 (towards London) .[29][171] There are plans to widen the highway east of Highway/Regional Road 24 at some point in the future. [28]

Greater Toronto Area

Highway 401 in the Greenbelt. The stretch of Highway 401 between Highway 8 and Highway 407 ETR is slated to be widened from six to ten lanes, including two HOV lanes.

In its 2007 plan for southern Ontario, the MTO announced long-term plans to create high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes from Mississauga Road west to Milton;[172] by 2011 these plans had been expanded in scope to as far west as Hespeler Road in Cambridge.[173]

By 2014 construction was completed widening Highway 401 to a collector-express system from Highway 403 and Highway 410 to west of Hurontario Street, a distance of 2.8 km (1.7 mi).[174] Construction is currently underway to widen the highway to a collector–express system from west of Hurontario Street to the Credit River.[175] A successful construction consortium is expected to be announced in 2019, for further widening from the Credit River to Regional Road 25 in Milton. This project will include a collector–express system between the Credit River and James Snow Parkway in Milton, with the exception of the portion west of Winston Churchill Boulevard through the Highway 407 interchange, which — along with the portion from James Snow Parkway to Regional Road 25 — will be widened to 10 lanes. All portions of this expansion will include an HOV lane.[176]

Within Toronto, some projects have been completed during overnight construction projects, including the widening and rehabilitation of the Hogg's Hollow bridge,[177] the replacement of the original gantries throughout the collector-express system,[178] and reconstructing the Highway 401 / 400 interchange.[179]

Expansion in Durham includes widening the highway to 12 lanes, extending the current collector-express system from its end at Brock Road in Pickering to Brock Street in Whitby.[180] A Transportation Environmental Study Report was completed on widening highway 401, extending the collector-express system easterly through to the Highway 412 interchange in Whitby, then ten lanes easterly to Liberty Street in the Municipality of Clarington. The assessment was completed in March 2015.[181] From Liberty Street in Clarington to Highway 35/115, Highway 401 will be widened from six to eight lanes.

To support this widening, all of the original overpasses dating back in the 1940s and 1950s built through Whitby and Oshawa will be replaced with new overpasses as part of modern highway safety standards and to allow for a future highway widening.[182]

Eastern Ontario

East of Durham, the MTO is planning to widen parts of Highway 401 to six lanes.[160] Two bridges have been widened in advance of an eventual widening to six lanes of the highway including the bridges over the Trent River in Trenton,[183] as well as the Salmon River bridge between Belleville and Napanee.[184] By 2020, the highway was widened to six lanes for 9 km (5.6 mi) through Kingston between exits 611 and 623.[63] Construction began in 2014 to expand the highway to six lanes approximately five kilometres (3.1 mi) east of exit 474 in Cobourg.[185] As of 2020, there are further studies to widen the highway to six lanes east of Cobourg to Colborne, and through Belleville, including replacing the current interchanges with more modern designs.


ONroute Cambridge South service station

Highway 401 features 19 service centres controlled by the MTO. These service centres were announced in 1961 following public outcry over the lack of rest stops. They provide a place to park, rest, eat and refuel 24 hours a day.[8]

The centres were originally leased to and operated by several major gasoline distributors; however, those companies have chosen not to renew their leases as the terms ended. In response, the MTO put the operation of the full network of service centres out for tender, resulting in a 50-year lease agreement in 2010 with Host Kilmer Service Centres, a joint venture between hospitality company HMSHost (a subsidiary of Autogrill) and Larry Tanenbaum's investment company Kilmer van Nostrand, which operates the rest areas under the ONroute brand.[186]

Seventeen of the centres along Highway 401 have been reconstructed entirely. Two centres rebuilt in the late 1990s, specifically Newcastle and Ingersoll, were not redeveloped at that time. Work on rebuilding 15 of the 17 service centres began in late 2009 or early 2010. The new service centres, opened in phases beginning in July 2010, feature a Canadian Tire gas station, an HMSHost-operated convenience store known as "The Market", as well as fast food brands such as Tim Hortons, A&W, Pizza Pizza, Extreme Pita, KFC, Taco Bell, Big Smoke Burger and Burger King.[187]

Service centres along Highway 401
Location Direction(s) Nearby exits[188] Status[187]
Tilbury North
Tilbury South
56, 63[189] Reopened as of October 1, 2010[190]
West Lorne
137, 149 Reopened as of October 1, 2010[190]
Ingersoll Westbound 222, 230 Will not be redeveloped at this time. Leased by Imperial Oil.
Woodstock Eastbound 222, 230 Closed for reconstruction on March 31, 2010; reopened July 2011[191]
Cambridge North
Cambridge South
286, 295 Closed for reconstruction on September 7, 2011;[192]

Cambridge North reopened June 25, 2013; Cambridge South reopened July 23, 2013.[193]

Mississauga Eastbound 333, 336[194] Permanently closed as of September 30, 2006. Building demolished in December 2010.
Newcastle Westbound 440, 448 Will not be redeveloped at this time. Leased by Imperial Oil.
Port Hope Eastbound 448, 456 Reopened by June 2011
Trenton North Westbound 509, 522 Reopened as of October 1, 2010[190]
Trenton South Eastbound Reopened March 2011
Napanee Westbound 582, 593 Closed for reconstruction March 31, 2010;[195] reopened June 2011
Odessa Eastbound 599, 611 Open during 2010–11 reconstruction (while a new structure was built directly west of a now-demolished original facility on same property). New facility opened June 2011
Mallorytown North Westbound 675 Reopened February 1, 2011[196]
Mallorytown South Eastbound 685 Reopened June 28, 2012.[193]
Morrisburg Eastbound 750, 758 Reopened as of October 1, 2010[190]
Ingleside Westbound 758, 770 Reopened April 2011[190]
Bainsville Westbound 825 Reopened as of October 1, 2010[190]

Exit list

The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 401, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.[2] 

Detroit River
Canada–US border
0.00.0 To I-75 / I-96Via future connector in Michigan, planned opening in 2024
Gordie Howe International Bridge, planned opening in 2024
Windsor1Ojibway Parkway
E. C. Row Expressway
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; western terminus[197]
2E. C. Row ExpresswayEastbound exit; westbound access will open to connect to Gordie Howe International Bridge
4.72.95 Highway 3 (Huron Church Road) – Windsor, Ambassador Bridge, DetroitWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; former western terminus from June 28 to November 21, 2015[197]
5.83.66Cabana Road West
 County Road 6 (Todd Lane) – LaSalle
Eastbound exit and eastbound entrance, westbound entrance from Highway 3 West
7.14.47 Highway 3 (Talbot Road) – LaSalle, LeamingtonWestbound exit to Highway 3 West, eastbound exit to Highway 3 East, eastbound entrance from Highway 3 East
10.16.310 Highway 3Leamington, Windsor
 County Road 9 (Howard Ave) – Amherstburg
Former western terminus from 1968 to June 28, 2015
12.67.813Dougall Parkway  – Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, DetroitWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; formerly Highway 3B/Highway 401A
EssexTecumseh13.48.314  County Road 46 (to/vers Walker Road) – WindsorFormerly Highway 98, access to Windsor International Airport
20.412.721 County Road 19 (Manning Road) – Tecumseh
27.517.128 County Road 25 (Puce Road) – Puce
33.720.934 County Road 27 (Belle River Road) – Woodslee, Belle River
40.024.940 County Road 31 (French Line Road) – St. JoachimFormerly known as St. Joachim Road
47.329.448 Highway 77 south – Leamington
 County Road 35 north (Comber Road) – Stoney Point
Northern terminus of Highway 77
55.734.656 County Road 42TilburyFormerly Highway 2
Tilbury Service Centres
62.839.063Municipal Road 2 (Queen's Line)Formerly Highway 2
80.950.381Municipal Road 27 (Bloomfield Road)
89.355.590 Highway 40 north
Municipal Road 11 south (Communication Road) – Blenheim
Southern terminus of Highway 40
101.062.8101Municipal Road 15 (Kent Bridge Road) – Dresden, Ridgetown
108.367.3109  Municipal Road 17 / Municipal Road 21 (Victoria Road) – Thamesville, RidgetownFormerly Highway 21
116.272.2117Municipal Road 20 (Orford Road) – Highgate
ElginWest Elgin129.280.3129County Road 103 (Furnival Road) – Wardsville, Rodney
137.385.3137County Road 76 (Graham Road) – West LorneFormerly Highway 76
Dutton/Dunwich143.889.4Dutton (Eastbound) / West Lorne (Westbound) Service Centres
148.592.3149County Road 8 (Currie Road) – Dutton
157.497.8157County Road 14 (Iona Road) – Melbourne, Iona
164.1102.0164County Road 20 (Union Road) – Port Stanley, Shedden
London176.7109.8177 Highway 4 south (Colonel Talbot Road) – St. ThomasSigned as exits 177A (south) and 177B (north); reconstruction planned, turning the cloverleaf interchange into a parclo[166]
179.4111.5180 Highway 4 north (Wonderland Road)Construction begun in early 2014, opened November 2015. Highway 4 re-routed along Wonderland Road in 2018.[164][166]
183.2113.8183 Highway 402 west – SarniaWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
185.9115.5186Wellington Road
186.8116.1187Exeter RoadWestbound exit, formerly Highway 135 west
189.1117.5189Highbury Avenue – St. ThomasFormerly Highway 126
193.6120.3194 Veterans Memorial ParkwayFormerly Highway 100; reconstruction and expansion from a three-way to four-way interchange begun in 2015;[166] access to London International Airport
MiddlesexThames Centre195.5121.5195County Road 74 (Westchester Bourne) – Nilestown, BelmontFormerly Highway 74
199.3123.8199County Road 32 (Dorchester Road) – Dorchester
203.0126.1203County Road 73 (Elgin Road) – AylmerFormerly Highway 73
208.5129.6208County Road 30 (Putnam Road) – Putnam, Avon
OxfordSouth-West Oxford,
216.0134.2216County Road 10 (Culloden Road)
218.5135.8218 Highway 19 south
County Road 119 north (Plank Line) – Tillsonburg
South-West Oxford222.2138.1222County Road 6Stratford
Ingersoll (Westbound) / Woodstock (Eastbound) Service Centres
229.8142.8230County Road 12 (Sweaburg Road / Mill Street) – Sweaburg
231.9144.1232County Road 59DelhiFormerly Highway 59
235.3146.2235 Highway 403 east – Brantford, HamiltonEastbound exit and westbound entrance
236.3146.8236County Road 15 (Towerline Road) – Woodstock
237.9147.8238County Road 2Paris, WoodstockFormerly Highway 2
Blandford-Blenheim250.1155.4250County Road 29 (Drumbo Road) – Innerkip, Drumbo
WaterlooNorth Dumfries267.9166.5268Regional Road 97 (Cedar Creek Road) – Cambridge, AyrSigned as exits 268A (east) and 268B (west) eastbound; formerly Highway 97
Kitchener, Cambridge275.0170.9275Regional Road 28 (Homer Watson Boulevard / Fountain Street)
277.9172.7278 Highway 8 north – Kitchener, Waterloo
Regional Road 8 south – Cambridge
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only to Highway 8; signed as exit 278A (east) and 278B (west) eastbound
Cambridge282.5175.5282Regional Road 24 (Hespeler Road) to  Highway 24 south – Brantford
283.8176.3284Regional Road 36 south (Franklin Boulevard)Eastbound to southbound exit and northbound to westbound entrance
286.5178.0286Regional Road 33 (Townline Road)
County Road 33 (Townline Road)
289.8180.1Cambridge Service Centres
295.7183.7295 Highway 6 north – GuelphWestern end of Highway 6 concurrency
300.1186.5299 Highway 6 south – Hamilton
County Road 46 (Brock Road) – Guelph, Hamilton
Eastern end of Highway 6 concurrency
HaltonMilton311.9193.8312 Regional Road 1 (Guelph Line) – Burlington
320.1198.9320 Regional Road 25Acton, MiltonFormerly Highway 25; GO Transit bus stop on eastbound ramp
323.8201.2324 Regional Road 4 (James Snow Parkway)
328.0203.8328 Regional Road 3 (Trafalgar Road) – Oakville, Georgetown
330.4205.3330 407 ETRToll highway; signed as exits 330A (west) and 330B (east) eastbound; no access from westbound Highway 407 to eastbound Highway 401 or westbound Highway 401 to eastbound Highway 407
PeelMississauga332.7206.7333 Regional Road 19 (Winston Churchill Boulevard)Highway 401 is the southern end of the Regional Road 19 designation
333.3207.1Former Mississauga Info Centre (Eastbound); closed in 2006
336.1208.8336 Regional Road 1 (Mississauga Road / Erin Mills Parkway)Although signed as both the exit for Mississauga Road and Erin Mills Parkway, Erin Mills Parkway merges with Mississauga Road 1.7 km (1.1 mi) to the south and does not officially reach Highway 401
337.8209.9Western end of collector–express system
339.6211.0340Mavis RoadExit opened in 1999.
341.7212.3342Hurontario StreetFormerly Highway 10; westbound exit from both collectors and express
Whittle RoadEastbound exit
344 Highway 403 west – Hamilton
 Highway 410 north – Brampton
Former partial interchange; full access to/from Highways 403 and 410 after new ramps from eastbound Highway 401 to westbound (south) Highway 403 and from eastbound (north) 403 to westbound 401 were opened in 2018
347.6216.0346 Regional Road 4 (Dixie Road)
350.3217.7Eastern end of collector–express system
348 Highway 427 / Renforth Drive – Toronto Pearson International Airport, Downtown TorontoExit 348 (eastbound exit and westbound entrance), exit 350 (eastbound exit and westbound entrance), exit 351 (westbound exit and eastbound entrance) and exit 352 (westbound exit and eastbound entrance)
350Eglinton Avenue
351Carlingview Drive
352 Highway 427 south
353.5219.7354Dixon Road / Martin Grove RoadNo access from southbound Martin Grove to eastbound Highway 401; No access from eastbound Highway 401 to Martin Grove
355.4220.8355 Highway 409 – Toronto Pearson International Airport
Belfield Road / Kipling Avenue
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
355.4220.8Western end of collector–express system
356.0221.2356Islington Avenue
357.4222.1357Weston Road
358.9223.0359 Highway 400 north (south to Black Creek Drive) – BarrieEastbound express access to Highway 400
360.5224.0360Jane StreetRamps removed; access to Jane Street via Black Creek Drive
362.0224.9362Keele Street
364.0226.2364Dufferin Street, Yorkdale RoadEastbound exit and westbound entrance
364.8226.7365 Allen Road, Yorkdale RoadWestbound exit is a left-hand exit from collector lanes, and right-hand exit from express lanes; westbound access to Dufferin Street via Yorkdale Road
366.2227.5366Bathurst StreetWestbound exit and eastbound entrance (access only from northbound Bathurst Street); westbound entrance and eastbound exit ramps removed; westbound exits to Wilson Avenue, about 200m west of Bathurst Street
367.3228.2367Avenue RoadFormerly Ontario Highway 11A
368229Yonge Boulevard
369.0229.3369Yonge StreetFormerly Highway 11
371.0230.5371Bayview Avenue
372.9231.7373Leslie Street
374.9233.0375 Highway 404 north – Newmarket
Don Valley Parkway – Downtown Toronto
From eastbound Highway 401, access to Sheppard Avenue via northbound Highway 404 from 401 collector lanes only
376.3233.8376Victoria Park Avenue
377.6234.6378Warden Avenue
379.2235.6379Kennedy Road
380.8236.6380Brimley Road south, Progress AvenueEastbound exit and westbound entrance from northbound Brimley Road; exit opened February 18, 1988[198]
381.6237.1381McCowan Road
Corporate DriveEastbound entrance
383.2238.1383Markham RoadFormerly Highway 48
Progress AvenueEastbound entrance
385.0239.2385Neilson RoadExit opened in 1983[199]
386.5240.2387Morningside Avenue
389.0241.7389Meadowvale Road
390.3242.5390Kingston Road, "Highway 2A", Sheppard Avenue (westbound), Port Union Road (eastbound)Kingston Road was formerly Highway 2; Highway 2A was downloaded to the City of Toronto; Signed as exit 392 westbound
DurhamPickering394.0244.8394 Regional Road 38 (Whites Road)Exit opened in 1983[199]
396.6246.4397 Regional Road 29 (Liverpool Road)Westbound exit and entrance
398.3247.5399 Regional Road 1 (Brock Road)Exit opened September 11, 1974, replacing the full-access interchange at Liverpool Road[200]
398.3247.5Eastern end of collector–express system
Ajax400.3248.7400Church StreetRemoved, exit replaced with Westney Road interchange (exit 401) in 1986[201]
401.3249.4401 Regional Road 31 (Westney Road)Replaced exit 400 (Church Street) in 1986 as part of Go Transit expansion east of Pickering[201]
402.5250.1403 Regional Road 44 (Harwood Avenue)Removed, exit replaced with Salem Road interchange (exit 404) in 2003
404.3251.2404 Regional Road 41 (Salem Road)Replaced exit 403 (Harwood Avenue) in December 2003
Whitby/Ajax boundary406.9252.8406 Regional Road 23 (Lakeridge Road)Westbound entry and eastbound exit; construction begun in 2013, completed Spring 2016
Whitby407.7253.3408 Highway 412 north – WhitbyToll highway; construction begun in 2013, completed June 20, 2016
409.6254.5410 Regional Road 46 (Brock Street)Formerly Highway 12; Regional Highway 12 begins at Regional Road 28 (Rossland Road) to the north of the interchange, and it runs northward to just south of Highway 407 at the current southern end of Highway 12
412.1256.1412 Regional Road 26 (Thickson Road)
Oshawa415.2258.0415 Regional Road 53 (Stevenson Road)Replaced exit 416 (Park Road) in 2009
415.8258.4416 Regional Road 54 (Park Road)Removed, exit replaced with nearby Stevenson Road interchange (exit 415) in 2009
417.6259.5417 Regional Road 2 (Simcoe Street)Westbound exit via exit 418
418.5260.0418 Regional Road 16 (Ritson Road)
419.4260.6419  Regional Road 22 / Regional Road 33 (Bloor Street / Harmony Road)Access to Regional Road 56/Farewell Street
Clarington425.4264.3425 Regional Road 34 (Courtice Road) – Courtice
426.5265.0426 Highway 418 north – ClaringtonToll highway; construction begun in 2016, Opened on December 9, 2019[202]
428.4266.2428Holt Road (Darlington Nuclear Generating Station)Formerly eastbound exit and westbound entrance; converted into a full interchange,[203] opened June 2016
431.3268.0431 Regional Road 57 (Bowmanville Avenue) – BowmanvilleFormerly Waverley Road
432.4268.7432 Regional Road 14 (Liberty Street) – Bowmanville, Port Darlington
435.2270.4435Bennett Road
436.3271.1436  Highway 35 / Highway 115Peterborough, Lindsay
440.1273.5440 Regional Road 17 (Mill Street) – Newcastle, Bond Head
443.8275.8Newcastle Service Centre (Westbound)
448.1278.4448 Regional Road 18 (Newtonville Road) – Newtonville
NorthumberlandPort Hope452.9281.4Port Hope Service Centre (Eastbound)
456.6283.7456Wesleyville Road
461.4286.7461County Road 2 (Toronto Street) – WelcomeFormerly Highway 2
464.8288.8464County Road 28 (Ontario Street) – PeterboroughFormerly Highway 28
Cobourg, Hamilton472.6293.7472County Road 18 (Burnham Street) – Gores Landing
474.5294.8474County Road 45 (Baltimore Road) – Norwood, BaltimoreFormerly Highway 45; signed as exits 474A and 474B eastbound
Alnwick/Haldimand487.0302.6487County Road 23 (Lyle Street) – Centreton, GraftonFormerly Aird Street
Cramahe497.2308.9497County Road 25 (Percy Street / Big Apple Drive) – Colborne, Castleton
Brighton509.7316.7509County Road 30BrightonFormerly Highway 30
HastingsQuinte West519.5322.8Trenton Service Centres
522.2324.5522 Municipal Road 40 (Wooler Road) – Trenton
525.4326.5525 Municipal Road 33 – Trenton, BatawaFormerly Highway 33
526.5327.2526 Municipal Road 4 (Glen Miller Road) – Trenton
538.5334.6538 Municipal Road 1 (Wallbridge-Loyalist Road) – Stirling
542.7337.2543 Highway 62Marmora, Madoc to County Road 14Signed as exits 543A (south) and 543B (north); formerly Highway 14
543.2337.5544 Highway 37Tweed
Tyendinaga555.7345.3556County Road 7 (Shannonville Road) – Shannonville, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
566.4351.9566 Highway 49
County Road 15 (Marysville Road) – Picton, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
570.5354.5570County Road 10 (Deseronto Road) – Deseronto
Lennox and AddingtonGreater Napanee
578.8359.6579County Road 41NapaneeFormerly Highway 41; signed as exits 579A and 579B westbound
582.1361.7582County Road 5 (Palace Road) – Napanee
Loyalist591.9367.8Camden East Service Centre (Westbound)
593.4368.7593County Road 4 (Camden East Road) – Millhaven, Camden EastFormerly Highway 133
598.8372.1599County Road 6 (Wilton Road) – Yarker, Odessa
Odessa Service Centre (Eastbound)
610.8379.5611 Municipal Road 38 – Harrowsmith, Sharbot LakeFormerly Highway 38
613.0380.9613 Municipal Road 9 (Sydenham Road), Sydenham
615.3382.3615Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard
617.0383.4617 Municipal Road 10 (Division Street) – Westport
619.0384.6619 Municipal Road 11 (Montreal Street) – Battersea
623.0387.1623 Highway 15Smiths Falls, Ottawa
631.9392.6632 Municipal Road 16 (Joyceville Road) – Joyceville
Leeds and GrenvilleGananoque, Leeds and the Thousand Islands645.1400.8645County Road 32CrosbyFormerly Highway 32
646.7401.8647Thousand Islands Parkway – Ivy Lea, RockportEastbound exit and westbound entrance
Leeds and the Thousand Islands
647.9402.6648 Highway 2 west – Gananoque
County Road 2 east
Eastbound via exit 647
658.8409.4659County Road 3 (Reynolds Road) – Ivy Lea, Rockport
661.0410.7661 Highway 137 to I-81 south – Hill Island, Thousand Islands Bridge, Watertown
Front of Yonge675.5419.7675County Road 5 (Mallorytown Road) – Mallorytown, Rockport
Mallorytown Service Centres
684.7425.5685Thousand Islands ParkwayWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
686.7426.7687County Road 2BrockvilleFormerly Highway 2
Brockville696.2432.6696County Road 29BrockvilleFormerly Highway 29 / Highway 42
698.0433.7698County Road 6 (North Augusta Road) – Brockville
Augusta704.8437.9705County Road 15 (Maitland Road) – Merrickville, Maitland
Prescott716.2445.0716County Road 18 (Edward Street) – Prescott, Domville
720.1447.4721A Highway 416 north – OttawaEastbound exit and westbound entrance; signed as exit 721 eastbound
721.2448.1721B Highway 16 – Kemptville, Johnstown, Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge
NY 812 to NY 37 – Ogdensburg
Signed as exit 721 westbound; NY 812 unsigned
730.0453.6730County Road 22 (Shanly Road) – Cardinal
Stormont, Dundas and GlengarrySouth Dundas737.8458.4738County Road 1 (Carman Road) – Iroquois
750.2466.2750County Road 31Ottawa, WinchesterFormerly Highway 31
756.4470.0Morrisburg Service Centre (Eastbound)
758.2471.1758Upper Canada Road
761.4473.1Ingleside Service Centre (Westbound)
South Stormont769.5478.1770County Road 14 (Dickinson Drive) – Ingleside
777.8483.3778County Road 35 (Moulinette Road) – Long Sault
786.4488.6786County Road 33 (Power Dam Drive)Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Cornwall789.5490.6789 Highway 138 (Brookdale Avenue) – Ottawa, Three Nations Crossing to Massena, New York
791.8492.0792McConnell Avenue
796.1494.7796County Road 44 (Boundary Road)
South Glengarry
804.6500.0804County Road 27 (Summerstown Road) – Summerstown
813.8505.7814  County Road 2 / County Road 34Lancaster, AlexandriaFormerly Highway 2 south / Highway 34 north
825.4512.9825County Road 23 (4th Line Road, Curry Hill Road)
827.2514.0Bainsville Service Centre (Westbound)
Ontario–Quebec border828.0514.5 A-20 east – MontrealHighway 401 continues as A-20
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  •       Closed/former
  •       Incomplete access
  •       Tolled
  •       Route transition
  •       Unopened

See also


  1. ^ The Department of Highways Fiscal Report for the year ending March 31, 1952, claims "Controlled Access Highways nos. 400 and 401 were signed". However, all other sources claim July.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ministry of Transportation and Communications (1972). pp. 8–9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (2008). "Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts". Government of Ontario. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  3. ^ "Appendix 3". 2009–2010 OBW/ORA Handbook for Students Coming to Ontario from Baden-Württemberg or Rhône-Alpes. Ontario Program Office, OBW/ORA Student Exchange Programs, York University. August 7, 2009. p. 26. 401 The Four-Oh-One: highway between Windsor and the Ontario / Quebec border
  4. ^ Allen, Paddy (July 11, 2011). "Carmageddon: the world's busiest roads". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Ltd. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Maier, Hanna (October 9, 2007). "Chapter 2". Long-Life Concrete Pavements in Europe and Canada (Report). Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010. The key high-volume highways in Ontario are the 400-series highways in the southern part of the province. The most important of these is the 401, the busiest highway in North America, with average annual daily traffic (AADT) of more than 425,000 vehicles in 2004 and daily traffic sometimes exceeding 500,000 vehicles.
  6. ^ a b c Canadian NewsWire (August 6, 2002). Ontario government investing $401 million to upgrade Highway 401 (Report). Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Highway 401 is one of the busiest highways in the world and represents a vital link in Ontario's transportation infrastructure, carrying more than 400,000 vehicles per day through Toronto.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Thün, Geoffrey; Velikov, Kathy. "The Post-Carbon Highway". Alphabet City. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2012. It is North America's busiest highway, and one of the busiest in the world. The section of Highway 401 that cuts across the northern part of Toronto has been expanded to eighteen lanes, and typically carries 420,000 vehicles a day, rising to 500,000 at peak times, as compared to 380,000 on the I-405 in Los Angeles or 350,000 on the I-75 in Atlanta (Gray).
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Shragge pp. 93–94.
  9. ^ "Ontario Provincial Highways Traffic Volumes On Demand". www.raqsa.mto.gov.on.ca. Archived from the original on December 17, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
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  21. ^ Butorac p. 10.
  22. ^ Hall, Joseph (October 2, 1999). "Boredom becomes a killer on 401 ; Straight and smooth, 'carnage alley' encourages a lethal lack of attention". News. The Toronto Star. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
  23. ^ "Crash area long known as 'Carnage Alley'". News. The Toronto Star. June 8, 2000. p. A. 4. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
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  28. ^ a b Record staff (September 3, 2014). "Cambridge Committee Grants Weekend Noise Exemption for Hwy. 401 Work". Waterloo Region Record. Kitchener. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014. During the next four years, construction crews will widen Highway 401 from six to 10 lanes and rebuild four overpasses that stretch across the highway.
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  31. ^ a b Butorac.
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