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M-43
M-44 Route Marker On to Next Route:
US-45
Western Terminus:    Jct M-11 & M-37 (cnr 28th St & East Beltline Ave/Broadmoor Ave) in Kentwood
Eastern Terminus:    M-66 at Woods Corners, 6 miles north of Ionia (cnr Belding Rd & State Rd)
Length: 37.4 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-44
Notes: M-44 in the Grand Rapids area today occupies what was originally intended to be one of four legs in a complete Grand Rapids "Beltline" highway system, designated M-114. The southern and western legs of the beltline were designated along existing roads, today's 28th St and Wilson Ave, respectively. The eastern leg was built and called, obviously, East Beltline—a name which it retains today. The northern leg, which was to run, in part, via 3 Mile Rd, was never completed. Originally designated M-114, the eastern portion of the Beltline was once designated BYPASS US-131; then as the former routes though Grand Rapids became Business Connections, US-131 itself ran along the route. With the completion of the US-131 freeway through downtownGrand Rapids in the early-1960s, the portion of US-131 along East Beltline was redesignated as an extension of M-44.
  With the completion of a segment of US-131 freeway north of Grand Rapids in 1969, the former US-131/M-44 from M-44/Belding Rd south of Rockford to Plainfield Ave northeast of Grand Rapids became just M-44. Old US-131/Plainfield Ave south to I-96 at Exit 33 became CONNECTOR M-44.
  While physically running north-south along East Beltline Ave and Northland Dr from its western terminus to the Rockford area, M-44 is an east-west trending highway, and is signed as such. This has created a minor amount of confusion for some, though, since the road is named East Beltline, and the route is signed east-west; many assume the road runs east-west as well.
  New! In "State Trunkline Needs, 1960–1980," a set of maps prepared by the State Highway Dept's Office of Planning, Programming Division in 1960 showing possible additions, upgrades and improvements to the state trunkline system over the ensuing twenty years, MSHD staff recommended one change to the route of M-44 during that timeframe. They suggested converting the existing alignment of M-44 to a divided highway from the junction with US-131 (at present day Wolverine Blvd & Belding Rd) southeast of Rockford easterly to the western limits of the City of Belding. Similarly, the portion of M-44 from the eastern limits of the City of Belding to its eastern terminus at M-66 at Woods Corners was also proposed to be converted to a divided highway. Neither of htese proposals were ever implemented.
History: c.1920 Originally M-44 ran via a portion of its present-day routing, beginning at M-13 (later US-131) just south of Rockford, heading easterly through Belding. Near Orleans, M-44 turns south to follow Orleans, Meade and Haynor Rds, ending at M-21 in Ionia.
  c.1930 M-44 is realigned to run due easterly from the Orleans area via Belding Rd to end at M-14 (present-day M-66) at Woods Corners.
  1939 The final few miles of gravel-surfaced M-44 are paved, from the Kent/Ionia Co line to Belding.
  1961 M-44 is extended southerly from its western terminus concurrently with US-131 along East Beltline Ave to end at jct US-131/M-11/M-21/M-37/M-44 (East Beltline Ave & 28th St) southeast of Grand Rapids.
  1962 US-131 is transferred off East Beltline Ave onto Plainfield Ave (formerly BUS US-131). M-44 continues southerly to M-21 at Fulton St, then concurrently with M-21 to M-11/28th St.
  1964 The concurrent M-21 designation between Fulton St and 28th St is removed when M-21 is rerouted along I-196 through Grand Rapids.
  1969 With the completion of a segment of US-131 freeway north of Grand Rapids, the former US-131/M-44 routing between M-44 south of Rockford and Plainfield Ave northeast of Grand Rapids becomes solely M-44. Old US-131/Plainfield Ave south to I-96 Exit 33 becomes CONNECTOR M-44.
  Also in 1969, M-37 is re-routed at Grand Rapids: From M-11/28th St and M-44/East Beltline Ave in Kentwood, M-37 is run concurrently with M-44 up East Beltline Ave to I-96 (at Exit 38), then northwesterly via I-96 to M-37/Alpine Ave (at Exit 30). M-44 is maintained south to M-11/28th St.
  1977 After eight years, the concurrent M-37/M-44 designation is removed when M-44 is scaled back to end at I-96 Exit 38 east of Grand Rapids. Four M-44 route markers still graced junction assemblies at jct M-11/28th St & M-37/East Beltline Ave through the 1990s, however.
  1991 M-44 along East Beltline Ave undergoes a major reconstruction widening the formerly two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway with Michigan Lefts from I-96 northerly to CONN M-44/Plainfield Ave in Grand Rapids & Plainfield Townships. One source notes that money for this project came from the cancellation of the long-proposed "M-37 connector" between US-131 north of Grand Rapids and Alpine Ave southeast of Sparta.
  2003 (Aug) In late-August, as a part of a complete sign rehabilitation along East Beltline Ave in Grand Rapids, the route of M-44 is "re-extended" south from its terminus at I-96 (Exit 38), concurrently with M-37 to end at M-11/28th St, where M-37 continues southerly toward Hastings and Battle Creek. MDOT had seemingly removed this redundant concurrency in 1977, but inexplicably re-adds it in 2003.
Controlled Access: Freeway: None of M-44 is limited-access freeway.
  Updated Expressway: The portion of M-44 along Wolverine Blvd from a point halfway between the Brewer Ave and Northland Dr intersections in northeastern Plainfield Twp to the intersection of Wolverine Blvd & Belding Rd southeast of Rockford is controlled-access. (1.1 miles)
NHS: From western terminus at jct M-11 & M-37 to the intersection of Wolverine Blvd & Belding Rd southeast of Rockford. (12.9 miles) (The segment of M-44 from I-96 at Exit 38 to the intersection of Wolverine Blvd & Belding Rd was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Business Connection: CONN M-44 Grand Rapids. Along Plainfield Ave from I-96/M-37 at Exit 33 in Grand Rapids to M-44 northeast of Grand Rapids (cnr Plainfield Ave & East Beltline Ave-Northland Dr).
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