- Waterloo Regional Road 15
Waterloo Regional Road 15, or King Street is the major north-south arterial road in
Kitchener, Ontario, as well as Waterloo, Ontario. In both Kitchener and Waterloo, King Street divides the city into the east and west sides. King Street "resumes" in southern Kitchener and continues to Cambridge, Ontario.
In Kitchener, King Street starts at where the Highway 8 Freeport Diversion ends in a half-clo interchange with the
Conestoga Parkway. After the Freeport Diversion passes under the Conestoga overpasses, the Highway 8 designation continues on the Conestoga west of the junction if one takes the loop ramp, while going straight ahead will default to King Street, which continues in a northwesterly fashion through the Kitchener downtown area and eventually to the border with Waterloo. The Conestoga Parkway east of the interchange serves as a bypass of King Street.
Although it runs north-south, King Street is labeled east-west, since the city of Kitchener was originally planned relative to the
Grand River, which runs north-south. The same is true for the other major north-south routes in the city (e.g., Weber Street), and the reverse is true for the major east-west arteries in the city (i.e., although they run east-west, they are labeled north-south).
King Street is the major street of downtown Kitchener, containing such buildings as the
Kitchener City Halland Market Square. Throughout downtown, it is also lined with shops and boutiques, as well as nightclubs. North of downtown, King Street is home to Grand River Hospital. It also contains television studios (for CKCO), as well as radio stations (91.5 "The Beat" and 96.7 "Chym FM", for instance).
In 2004, when the Highway 8/Conestoga Parkway half-clo interchange was realigned to increased traffic capacity, the number of lanes headed towards King Street was reduced from two to one, due to the need to accommodate the new flyover ramp from the Conestoga to Highway 8.
There is also another King Street in southern Kitchener that runs north-south. It originally began at Wilfred Avenue (a residential street) and ran southward into Cambridge, wedged in between the Freeport Diversion and Weber Street.
That road was initially part of the downtown King Street until the portion between Wilfred Avenue and Weber Street was used instead as the right-of-way for the Highway 8 Freeport Diversion freeway, with its terminus being redirected towards Weber Street. When the Diversion was completed in the late 1960s, in order to connect the two segments of King Street, one had to use the freeway via the Fairway Road interchange.
South of Weber the street "resumes" again and continues to Cambridge, meeting up with the Freeport Diversion a second time at an at-grade Y-intersection, with the Freeport Diversion traffic being given priority. King Street continues on eastward as a divided at-grade expressway which carries the designation Highway 8, south to Highway 401 and Cambridge. This road is often referred to as Old King Street or King East, in order to distinguish it from the downtown thoroughfare. King East provided a link between Highway 401 and the Freeport Diversion, as well as continuing the Highway 8 designation.
In 1987, the at-grade intersection was replaced with a two-ramp parclo interchange, when the freeway extension (secretly designated Highway 7187, though signed as Highway 8) of the Freeport Diversion was constructed to provide a direct freeway link to Highway 401 easterly to Toronto. Highway 401 west traffic however continues to use King East to reach the Freeport Diversion.
In 2001, the Highway 401 exit signage to King Street east was changed from Highway 8 to "Shantz Hill Road", as Highway 8 had been downloaded from the province to municipal authorities in 1998.
Upon crossing into Waterloo, King Street turns into a northeastward direction and continues until passing out of the city and into Woolwich Township. As in Kitchener, King Street has an intersection with Weber Street in Waterloo, and also has an interchange with the Conestoga Parkway, which is now designated as Highway 85.
A major difference between King Street in Kitchener and in Waterloo, however, is that upon entering Waterloo, King Street is labeled north-south (the dividing line being
Erb Street) instead of east-west as in Kitchener. The same is true of all major north-south thoroughfares in Waterloo.
Just as King Street is the main thoroughfare in downtown Kitchener, it is also the main strip of "Uptown Waterloo" (the central district of Waterloo). Shops and pubs line the street roughly from the border with Kitchener up to
Bridgeport Road. Also, two major shopping malls are situated on King Street: Waterloo Town Squarein Uptown Waterloo and Conestoga Mallat the junction with Highway 85 (both are currently in the midst of major redevelopment projects).
Waterloo Regional Road 15 also continues west into communities such as Saint Clements as Lobsinger Line.
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