Ontario Highway 88
King's Highway 88, commonly referred to as Highway 88, was a provincially maintained highway located in the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, which connected former Highway 27 in the village of Bond Head with former Highway 11 in the town of Bradford. It was established in 1938 and decommissioned in 1998, and has since been known as Simcoe County Road 88.
Highway 88 began at an intersection with what was then Highway 27, but it now known as York County Road 27, in the community of Bond Head. It proceeded eastward and encountered an interchange with Highway 400 at Exit 65. At the northwest corner of the interchange was Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park and Camp Resort. East of Highway 400, the highway entered the urban area of Bradford, where it ended at an intersection with former Highway 11, which travelled north along Yonge Street as well as east along Bridge Street.
Highway 88 was built in the 1850s and was the first plank road built in Simcoe County, which originally connected Holland Landing with Bond Head. The road was about 1 inch thick and was wide enough for a wagon. It was laid on the north or east part of the CNR rail line that still exists today. It is still in service, but the majority of traffic was transferred onto the south or western side of the tracks, when Highway 11 was constructed in the 1920s. The old section of the road can be accessed from Highway 11 but its bridge was torn down when the new bridge was constructed for Highway 11. Wooden pillars from the original bridge still are seen peeping out of the Holland River. It is an assumption that the bridge was constructed on the north side of the railway because of a shorter distance between land or better shorelines. The Road in fact probably went very close to the Bradford Train station as there was a closed road that intersected at the present day Bridge, Dissette and Holland street intersection (It was recently removed due to construction of the new GO Train parking lot). This road is almost perpendicular to the train station. The plank road had 2 main toll booths until its conversion to Highway 88. One was located at what is now 10th sideroad and Simcoe County Road 88, and the other was located near the Holland River bridge on the south side.
When the portion of the plank road that connected Holland Landing and Bradford was seen as a necessity for a transportation route for high traffic in the 1920s, it was converted into a portion of Highway 11 that connected Toronto with northern Ontario. The old plank road that ran from Holland Landing to Bathurst Street was widened and turned into a major road while the rest was shifted about 20– 30 meters south. This was due to poor terrain to expand the road on the other side of the railway tracks. Because of this transfer, there has been a large expansion of this road even to this day.
As the 1920s continued, there was no real necessity to continue to expand the remaining portion of the plank road from Bradford to Bond Head as it was only a hamlet. However, in 1927 there was concern about how to connect Highways 11 and 27, because the only other significant highway connection was Highway 9, which was nearly 15 kilometers south and only a county road where Highway 89 would later be extended to Fennells Corner. As well, with the newly designed and proposed Toronto-Barrie Highway (later known as the Highway 400), there would be a need for a legitimate and traffic-efficient road for automobiles to travel to Bradford and Bond Head. It wasn't until the 1930s that the government saw the great need for more highways to be built across Ontario. And in 1938, Highway 88 was finally born and designated. It had one end at Highway 11 in downtown Bradford and the other at Highway 27 in Bond Head. The Highway was a two-lane paved road, and did not have a great deal of development except in the Bradford area where it was known as Holland Street.
With the completion of the Toronto- Barrie Highway 400 in 1952, a new multi-lane highway emerged that would transform Barrie and Northern Ontario forever. A series of bridges and interchanges were built along the highway and every side road with an even number (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14) was cut off in West Gwillimbury at Highway 400. The remaining side roads, with odd numbers, were given access either over or under the highway. Highway 88 was given a clover leaf interchange where 8 ramps were constructed, which was one of the most expensive types of interchanges that could be built at the time. The ramps were seen as very dangerous to merge onto and off the highway as they had not been maintained or upgraded properly. As well, many accidents had occurred as the average speed on these highways has increased since the time of construction. It was one of the few cloverleaf low-standard interchanges left on Ontario's 400 series highways. As well, it was the only interchange on the original section of Highway 400 between Barrie and Toronto where there were no traffic lights servicing traffic coming off or going on the highway (with the exception of the Canal Road exit, which is an even lower-standard interchange). The government of Ontario in 2009 designated the need to rehabilitate the bridge and interchange as soon as possible due to crumbling of the bridge onto Highway 400. In 2011 the bridge was rehabilitated patching crumbling concrete and reinforcing the core structure of the bridge. The interchange was upgraded in 2011 to accommodate the growing population of Bradford West Gwillimbury. The on and off ramps were reduced from eight to four ramps to improve traffic safety. The remaining ramps were realigned to allow vehicles to travel at higher speeds when entering and exiting the highway. Traffic lights were installed on both sides of Highway 400 to help traffic safely merge on and off the highway. The removed on and off ramps were degraded and are currently overgrown and barely noticeable to passing vehicles.
Downgrade to County Road 88
The entire Highway 88 was downgraded on January 1, 1998 under a program of the Mike Harris provincial government to download several highways across Ontario to county and municipal-level governments. Highway 88 was therefore changed to become Simcoe County Road 88. The only remnants of the Highway's existence is the number 88 in its name, in addition to a few signs which remain at certain junctions. This Highway was among 49 others to be completely removed from the list of Ontario King's Highways. The highway continues to be only two lanes from Bond Head to when it reaches Bradford's town limits, where it becomes a 4-lane road and a key road to travel between Highway 400 and Highway 404.
|Bond Head||0.0||0.0||Highway 27 – Vaughan, Barrie|
|Bradford West Gwillimbury||3.9||2.4||Highway 400 – Toronto, Barrie||Exit 64|
|Bradford||8.4||5.2||Melbourne Drive / Professor Day Drive|
|9.7||6.0|| Barrie Street to Barrie|
Bridge Street to Newmarket
|Formerly Highway 11|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|