Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

Michigan Highways website header graphic

Historic US-16

Historic US-16On Page 1: Historical Overview
On Page 2: Year-by-Year History | Additional Information

This page mainly consists of a year-by-year history of US-16, including route realignments, business connections, bypasses and other changes to the route. While US-16 did not exist prior to 1926, included in this listing is the history of M-16, which US-16 supplanted in its entirety. (In essence, M-16 and US-16 could be considered to be the same highway, just with differently-shaped route markers.

Year-by-Year History

When the Michigan state trunkline system is assigned numbers and route markers are posted along the routes, the route from Detroit through Howell, Lansing, Portland, and Grand Rapids to Grand Haven is designated M-16. The specific routing is as follows (using present-day road names):
  • Grand River Ave from downtown Detroit northwesterly through Farmington, Novi, Brighton, Howell, Fowlerville, and Williamston to just east of Okemos.
  • Hamilton Rd through 'downtown' Okemos.
  • Grand River Ave from just west of Okemos into downtown East Lansing.
  • Michigan Ave from downtown East Lansing into downtown Lansing.
  • Capitol Ave northerly from Michigan Ave to Saginaw St in Lansing.
  • Saginaw St westerly from downtown Lansing, continuing on Saginaw Hwy in Eaton Co to Grand Ledge.
  • Clinton, Jefferson & Bridge Sts through Grand Ledge and northerly via Wright Rd into Clinton Co.
  • Grand River Ave northwesterly through Eagle to Jones Rd.
  • Jones Rd northerly from Grand River Ave, then westerly via Howe Rd & Peake Rd into Ionia Co.
  • Grand River Ave northwesterly again through Portland and westerly via Grand River Ave & Portland Rd to Sunfield Rd
  • Sunfield Rd northerly to Tuttle Rd; then westerly via Tuttle to Kelsey Rd.
  • Kelsey Rd northerly into Ionia, continuing into the city via Cleveland St to Main St.
  • Main St through downtown Ionia to Dexter St, then southerly via Dexter to Riverside Dr.
  • Riverside Dr westerly from Ionia, through Saranac and into Kent Co.
  • At Lowell, M-16 runs westerly via Grand River Dr, north on Division St and westerly on Main St.
  • Fulton St westerly into Ada.
  • Ada Dr westerly from Ada to Forest Hills Ave, then southerly on Forest Hills Ave to Cascade Rd.
  • Cascade Rd northwesterly into Grand Rapids to Robinson Rd.
  • Robinson Rd westerly to Lake St northwesterly to Fulton St and westerly into downtown Grand Rapids.
  • In Grand Rapids, M-16 turns northwesterly then northerly via Monroe Ave, then westerly via Leonard St to Remembrance Rd.
  • Remembrance Rd northwesterly into Ottawa Co, continuing northwesterly toward Marne via Ironwood Dr.
  • Through Marne and northwesterly toward Coopersville on Ironwood Dr (part of which is buried under present-day I-96).
  • Through Coopersville via Randall St, then northwesterly on State Rd to Cleveland Rd.
  • Cleveland Rd westerly through Nunica to Spring Lake and Ferrysburg.
  • South across the Grand River via present-day US-31 (then M-11 into Grand Haven, where M-16 has its western terminus.
1924 The routing in western Clinton and eastern Ionia Cos via Jones, Howe & Peake Rds is turned back to local control when M-16 is routed more directly via present-day Grand River Ave.
1925 To major realignments occur in 1925:
  • From downtown East Lansing, M-16 is rerouted westerly into Lansing via Grand River Ave, across the north side of Lansing then northwesterly, still via Grand River Ave, toward Eagle, meeting its former routing at Wright Rd north of Grand Ledge. The former route along Michigan Ave from downtown East Lansing into downtown Lansing becomes part of an extended M-39, Capitol Ave between Michigan Ave and Saginaw St is part of M-14/M-39, while Saginaw St/Hwy west from Lansing to Grand Ledge is also part of the extended M-39. From Grand Ledge to Grand River Ave north of Grand Ledge, is retained as a state trunkline, but doesn't seem to be given a designation for a few years. (It eventually is signed as M-100.
  • Formerly turning northerly west of Portland to run into Ionia, then westerly through Saranac, Lowell and Ada toward Grand Rapids, M-16 is realigned onto a more direct alignment through Ionia Co, continuing westerly from Portland via Grand River Ave into Kent Co, then westerly via Cascade Rd, through Cascade, meeting its former route west of Ada. The former route from Grand River Ave west of Portland into Ionia is turned back to local control in 1928, while the former M-16 from Ionia westerly through Saranac, Lowell and Ada is marked as an extension of M-21.
1925 The initial designation for the proposed Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Grand Haven US Highway is US-18.
1926 After initially being tagged for the US-18 designation, all of M-16 in Michigan is given the new US-16 route designation from Grand Haven to Detroit. The M-16 route designation will forever disappear from the state, never to be re-used again!
1933 In late 1933, the southern bypass of the City of Farmington is completed via present-day Freedom Rd. The existing route of US-16 through Farmington is retained as a state trunkline. Sources indicate the "bypass route" is restricted to eastbound traffic only, while the "through town" route is open to traffic in both directions.
1934 While not incorporated into the route of US-16, a direct new state trunkline highway is constructed and opened to traffic as M-126. This new highway alignment, following present-day Apple Dr from Nunica to Fruitport, 3rd St through Fruitport and Airline Hwy from Fruitport into Muskegon. For the time being, US-16 still continues westerly from Nunica into Grand Haven.
1936 A slight realignment in eastern Grand Rapids when US-16 is transferred from Robinson Rd and Lake Dr to continue northwesterly via Cascade Rd to E Fulton St, then westerly via Fulton into downtown Grand Rapids. The former route is turned back to local control.
1940 US-16 is finally rerouted onto its "classic" routing when all of M-126 from Nunica through Fruitport into Muskegon Heights, where it is paired with US-31A to run northerly via Peck St into downtown Muskegon, where it ends. The former route of US-16 westerly from Nunica to Ferrysburg is redesignated as M-104.
1941–42 One realignment and one "bannered" route are created:
  • In Muskegon, US-16 is rerouted to follow M-46/Houston Ave west from BUS US-31/Peck St to 6th St, then northerly to Western Ave, jogging east via Western Ave to Mart St, then northerly on Mart St to the carferry docks. From here, US-16 followed the railroad carferry line to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Previously, motorists had to "find their way" from the western end of US-16 in Michigan to the carferry docks for the continuation across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin.
  • What had been designated M-114 along the South Beltline (now 28th St) and West Beltline (now Wilson Ave) around Grand Rapids is redesignated as BYP US-16 ("Bypass US-16"). This route has the honor of being the very first US "Bypass" designation in Michigan.
c.1942 One official and several non-official sources indicate an ALT US-16 ("Alternate US-16") designation is created to run southerly from US-16 southeast of Muskegon via US-31 to Ferrysburg near Grand Haven, then easterly via M-104 through Spring Lake and back to US-16 at Nunica. Interestingly, the portion of this new ALT US-16 along M-104 had been part of the US-16 routing until 1940. As to why an ALT US-16 routing was designated here, the communities bypassed when US-16 was routed directly into Muskegon via Fruitport in 1940 may have still desired the US Highway connection, albeit as an Alternate routing. It doesn't seem this ALT US-16 designation lasted too long, though. It may have been decommissioned within one or two years.
1953 In mid-1953, all of US-16 between the junctions of BYP US-16 in the Greater Grand Rapids area is redesignated as a new BUS US-16 routing. Simultaneously, BYP US-16 is replaced by the routing of US-16 in its entirety. That is a net loss of one BYP US-16 route and a net gain of one BUS US-16 route.
1956 During mid-1956, the portion of US-16/Grand River Ave in Lansing from jct M-78/Saginaw St on the east side of town to jct US-27/Larch St north of downtown becomes one-way for westbound traffic only and gains the M-78 (westbound) as well. The eastbound US-16 routing now turns south along US-27/Larch St to M-78/Saginaw St, then runs easterly via Saginaw St back to Grand River Ave.
1957 Three segments of new, four-lane divided, limited-access freeway are completed:
  • Approximately 8 miles of US-16 freeway are completed from the west side of Coopersville (present-day Exit 16) to just east of Marne (present-day Exit 24) in Ottawa Co. From the west end of the new freeway segment west of Coopersville to 40th Ave just east of Coopersville, the former route along Randall St and Ironwood Dr is turned back to local control, as is the former route bypassing Marne to the south via Berlin Fair Dr and Hayes St. (From 40th Ave east of Coopersville to just west of Marne, the new freeway consumes the original route of US-16.)
  • Approximately 9 miles of US-16 freeway are opened to traffic from the southeast side of Portland (present-day Exit 77) to just east of M-100 (present-day Exit 86) east of Eagle. The former route of US-16 along Grand River Ave is turned back to local control.
  • (Aug 1) The first four miles of the 22-mile long "Brighton-Farmington Expressway" is completed from US-23 on the east side of Brighton to the Livington/Oakland Co line and opens to traffic. The new freeway, the remainder of which is opened to traffic later in theyear, is mostly built on new alignment, although from the Livingston/Oakland Co line to east of Kent Lake Rd the new freeway is built directly atop a portion of Grand River Ave—a new connection to tie the disconnected segments of Grand River back together is built within a few years. Also, while it was previously assumed the original 1933 "Farmington Bypass" had been converted into the new freeway, new sources show the existing bypass is largely maintained (as Freedom Rd) and the new freeway is built immediately south of the old bypass. The former bypass route is severed, however, at Halsted Rd by the new freeway while the remainder becomes a northerly frontage road for the freeway. The former route of US-16 along Grand River Ave from US-23 at Brighton to the new interchange west of Farmington (at Halsted Rd) is turned back to local control, as is the former "Farmington Bypass" route via present-day Freedom Rd. Grand River Ave through downtown Farmington is retained as a state trunkline and is designated BUS US-16.
1958 An additional 20 miles of US-16 freeway across much of Ionia Co are completed from Hastings Rd northwest of Clarksville to Kent St (present-day Exit 76) on the south side of Portland. There remains an approximately one-mile gap in the freeway between Kent St and Grand River Ave on the south side of Portland. It is assumed through US-16 traffic is routed northerly via Kent St from the freeway into downtown Portland, then easterly via Grand River Ave (the former route) back to the freeway southeast of town. The former route of US-16 along Grand River Ave from Hastings Rd to downtown Portland is turned back to local control.
1959 A massive new highway project in the Muskegon area creates a 4-6 lane, partially-controlled access "loop route" through the city from the junction of US-16 and the new US-31 bypass southeast of town to north side of the city. This new highway, christened "Seaway Dr," is assigned the US-16 and BUS US-31 route designations. US-16 now enters Muskegon via the new Seaway Dr from the south, then turns northeasterly via Muskegon Ave (wbd) and Webster Ave (ebd) to Sixth St, where US-16 departs US-31 and joins with M-46 running northerly via Sixth St, jogging easterly on Western Ave for a few hundred feet, then northerly again via Mart St to the carferry dock for the over-water journey to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (The Sixth-Western-Mart routing is not new—it has been part of US-16 since 1941–42.) The former route of US-16 along Airline Hwy (Getty Ave to Peck St), northerly via Peck St, southwesterly via Houston St and northerly one block via Sixth St (Houston St to Muskegon Ave) is turned back to local control.
1959–60 The US-16 freeway is extended westerly from western Ionia Co into Kent Co, temporarily ending at Whitneyville Ave southeast of Cascade. The former route along Grand River Ave is turned back to local control. Also, the one-mile gap in the freeway around the south side of Portland is completed and opened to traffic. Sources also seem to indicate it was either in 1959 or 1960 when the first Interstate route markers began appearing along the several freeway segments of US-16. The new I-196 is posted along the US-16 freeway from Coopersville to Marne, while new I-96 signs are erected along the US-16 freeway from southeast of Cascade to east of Eagle adn from Brighton to Farmington.
1961 The route of BUS US-16 via Grand River Ave through Farmington is redesignated as BL I-96 in its entirety.
1961–62 Three new segments of freeway are completed, two of which allow motorists to drive 86 miles from Muskegon to nearly Lansing on limited-access highway with no traffic lights or intersections.
  • Approximately 16 miles of I-196/US-16 freeway are opened to traffic from US-31 southeast of Muskegon to the western end of the existing freeway segment on the west side of Coopersville. The former route of US-16 along Airline Hwy, 3rd St (in Fruitport), Apple Ave, Cleveland St and State Rd is turned back to local control.
  • About 23 miles of new freeway is completed from the eastern end of the existing freeway segment at Marne, across the north side of Grand Rapids, then southeasterly to the western end of the existing freeway segment near Cascade. The first 13 miles of the new freeway is designated as I-196/US-16, while the last last ten miles (from just west of the East Beltline Ave interchange) are signed as I-96/US-16. (This is because at this time, I-96 is planned to head westerly through downtown Grand Rapids, then southwesterly to Holland and south to Benton Harbor. I-196, on the other hand, is planned to be the spur route from Grand Rapids northwesterly to Muskegon.) The former route of US-16 from present-day Exit 24 near Marne southerly to Grandville and easterly through Wyoming to the new I-96/US-16 freeway (at present-day Exit 43) is redesignated as M-11, while the portion from there easterly into Cascade, then southeasterly via Cascade Rd to Whitneyville Ave is turned back to local control. The majority of BUS US-16 through downtown Grand Rapids is left intact, with the exception of the portion along Cascade Rd from the new I-96/US-16 freeway (at present-day Exit 40A-B) southeasterly to Cascade, where it formerly ended at US-16, is turned back to local control.
  • A short 3-mile long extension of the I-96/US-16 freeway is completed from US-23 near Brighton to US-16/Grand River Ave on the north side of Brighton, including the massive new US-23 freeway interchange. The former route of US-16 through downtown Brighton is turned back to local control.
(Dec 13)
The final 59 miles of freeway between the Eagle/Grand Ledge area and Brighton are completed and opened to traffic, including the bypass of Lansing. As of this time, all of US-16 in the state of Michigan is "decommissioned" and all US-16 route markers are taken down, ending a 36-year run for that route designation in the state. The final segments of US-16 are designated thusly:
  • BS I-196 - from the end of Mart St (the former 'eastern entrance' of US-16 at the carferry docks) to jct US-31 & I-196 southeast of Muskegon.
  • I-196 - from jct US-31 & I-196 southeast of Muskegon to Milemarker 37 in Grand Rapids, just west of the East Beltline Ave interchange.
  • I-96 - from Milemarker 37 at Grand Rapids to just east of M-100 north of Grand Ledge.
  • Locally-maintained road - from just east of M-100 to I-96 at present-day Exit 90.
  • BL I-96 - from I-96 at present-day Exit 90 northwest of Lansing to US-27/Cedar-Larch Sts in Lansing, north of downtown.
  • Locally-maintained street - in Lansing from US-27/Cedar-Larch Sts to Oakland St.
  • M-43 - from cnr Grand River Ave & Oakland St in northeast Lansing to jct M-52 just west of Webberville.
  • Locally-maintained road - from M-52 west of Webberville to M-59 northwest of Howell.
  • BL I-96 - through Howell, from M-59 northwest of town to the "Lake Chemung" exit on I-96 (present-day Exit 141).
  • Locally-maintained road - from the Lake Chemung area to present-day Exit 145 on the north side of Brighton.
  • I-96 - from Grand River Ave on the north side of Brighton to Grand River Ave on the east side of Farmington.
  • BS I-96 - from the end of the I-96 freeway on the east side of Farmington to US-12/Michigan Ave in downtown Detroit.


Additional Information

Back to Page 1: Historic US-16