|Thunder Bay Expressway|
|Part of Terry Fox Courage Highway|
Ontario Highway 7250
|Maintained by Ministry of Transportation of Ontario|
|Length||15.3 km (9.5 mi)|
|Existed||August 29, 1967 –present|
|South end||Highway 61|
| Highway 11 / Highway 17 / TCH west / Harbour Expressway east|
Highway 102 west / Red River Road east
|East end||Highway 11 / Highway 17 / TCH east / Hodder Avenue|
|Major cities||Thunder Bay|
The Thunder Bay Expressway, originally known as the Lakehead Expressway is a high-capacity at-grade suburban limited-access road around the western side of Thunder Bay in the Canadian province of Ontario. The 15.3 km (9.5 mi) route travels in a generally north–south direction on the city's west side. It is signed as part of Highway 61 at its southern end, and as part of the concurrent route of Highway 11 and Highway 17. The expressway features several at-grade intersections between its southern terminus at Arthur Street West and the Harbour Expressway and its northeastern terminus at Hodder Avenue.
The Thunder Bay Expressway was built throughout the mid-to-late 1960s, and opened in stages between mid-1967 and late 1970. The old routes of Highway 11/17 and Highway 61 through Thunder Bay were redesignated as Highway 11B/17B and Highway 61B. Work is now ongoing to twin Highway 11/17 northeast to Nipigon.
The Thunder Bay Expressway forms the southernmost portion of the Terry Fox Courage Highway, which continues east to Nipigon along the Trans-Canada Highway. 61, while between there and the northeastern terminus at Hodder Avenue it is designated as part of Highway 11 and Highway 17, and as a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway. The entire route is four lanes and undivided, with an exception between Balsam Street and Hodder Avenue where the opposing lanes are separated by a grass median. Aside from Hodder Avenue, it features signalised at-grade intersections at the six other crossroads along its length.Between Arthur Street and the Harbour Expressway, the route is designated as part of Highway
The Thunder Bay Expressway begins in the south at Arthur Street West, which was once the route of Highway 11 and Highway 17 west from Thunder Bay prior to 2008. To the south, Highway 61 continues towards the American border. Travelling north, the Thunder Bay Expressway is designated as the northernmost segment of Highway 61. Featuring a 100 metres (330 ft) right-of-way sandwiched between residential subdivisions, the four lane undivided road crosses over the Neebing River. It curves to the northeast, with a large swamp to the west and subdivisions to the east. The expressway reaches a signalised intersection with Highways 11 and 17, which continue west along the Shabaqua Highway; the Highway 61 designation ends at this intersection, and Highways 11 and 17 turn northward along the expressway.
Continuing north, the Thunder Bay Expressway travels through an undeveloped area of the city. It encounters an intersection with Oliver Road before becoming surrounded by forests. It curves northeast over a branch of the McIntyre River at McIntyre Falls, then follows parallel to and north of Golf Links Road. The route becomes sandwiched between residential subdivisions again as it approaches an intersection with John Street. It continues, intersecting the eastern terminus of Highway 102, before crossing McVicar Creek. The route intersects Balsam Street before leaving urban Thunder Bay and entering into forests, at which point the opposing lanes become separated by a grass median. After travelling parallel to the Current River for a short distance, the Thunder Bay Expressway crosses the river and curves east to encounter its only interchange, with Hodder Avenue. From there, the divided freeway continues east towards Nipigon.
In 1963, Charles MacNaughton, minister of the Department of Highways, announced plans for the Lakehead Expressway to be built on the western edge of the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William (which amalgamated in 1970 to form Thunder Bay). 5 kilometres (3 mi) section of divided highway on the west side of the twin cities. Plans called for a 28.2 kilometres (17.5 mi) at-grade expressway from South of Arthur Street to meet Highway 11 and Highway 17 northeast of the cities. The first section of the expressway opened on August 29, 1967, connecting Oliver Road (then part of Highway 130) and Golf Links Road with Dawson Road (Highway 102). By mid- to late 1969, the route had been extended to Highway 527 northeast of the twin cities and to Highway 11 and Highway 17 (Arthur Street) at the Harbour Expressway. By late 1970, the route had been extended southward from Arthur Street to Neebing Avenue / Walsh Street West. At this time, Highway 11/17 and Highway 61 were rerouted along the completed expressway. The old routes through Thunder Bay were redesignated as Highway 11B/17B and Highway 61B. However, these routes were decommissioned in 1998.Work began in August 1965, with a contract for a
In 2003 plans were announced for the Shabaqua extension, a 13-kilometre (8 mi) bypass of Highways 11 and 17 to the north of the existing route along Arthur Street West. The new bypass was opened on August 17, 2007; as a result, the southernmost 3.0 kilometres (1.9 mi) of the Thunder Bay Expressway became part of Highway 61.
The Thunder Bay Expressway was built originally with the intention to widen it into a full freeway with grade-separated interchanges throughout its length. Studies into building these interchanges began in the 1990s before being abandoned. In 2013, studies resumed, [ citation needed ]however no design or funding has been announced as of 2022.
The following table lists the major junctions along Thunder Bay Expressway, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.The entire route is located in Thunder Bay. All exits are unnumbered.
Highway 61 south / LSCT – Duluth
|North as Highway 61; Arthur Street formerly Highway 11B / Highway 17B|
|3.0||1.9|| Highway 11 / Highway 17 / TCH west – Kenora |
Harbour Expressway east
|Highway 61 ends; Highway 11/17 (Trans-Canada) designation begins|
|8.9||5.5||East: Red River Road|
West: To Highway 102 (Dawson Road)
|Dawson Road becomes Highway 102 at Strand Avenue, 300m west.|
|10.9||6.8||Huron Avenue||One-way off-ramp, eastbound.|
|11.2||7.0||Balsam Street||Highway is divided between km 11.6 and 15.2|
|15.3||9.5||North: Copenhagen Road|
South: Hodder Avenue
East: Highway 11 / Highway 17 (Terry Fox Courage Highway) / LSCT / TCH east – Sault Ste. Marie, Cochrane
|Thunder Bay Expressway designation ends. Highway 11/17 and Terry Fox Courage Highway designations continue.|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
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The long awaited Lakehead Expressway moved to the brink of reality when Ontario Highways Minister Charles S. MacNaughton announced a new cost-sharing formula for the twin cities portion. This fixes the expressway cost at $15,770,000.