Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

Michigan Highways website header graphic
Back to Previous Route:
M-85
M-86 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Former M-87
Western Terminus:    Jct BUS US-131 & M-60 in downtown Three Rivers (cnr Main St & Michigan Ave)
Eastern Terminus:    US-12 three miles west of Coldwater (cnr Colon Rd & Chicago Rd)
Length: Updated 34.055 miles
Maps: New! Route Map of M-86
Notes: Updated M-86 once traversed the campus of what is now Michigan State University (then Michigan State College). The route began at Michigan Ave and the Beale Entrance, then continued easterly via West Circle Dr—both sides—then continued along the south side of East Circle Dr to end at US-16/Grand River Ave at the Collingwood Entrance. This route was designated as M-86 fromMarch 1930 until July 1939. Evidence indicates this iteration of M-86 was never posted on campus and was a so-called "secret route" where a number was assigned but not physically signed along its route.
  Present-day M-86 owes its existence to a program begun by the State Highway Dept in the late-1930s to reserve all single-digit route designations for a planned "superhighway" network linking all parts of the state. What is today M-86 was formerly designated M-7 until that designation was removed in early-to-mid 1940. The planned "superhighway" network was eventually built and incorporated into the Interstate Highway System, however the single-digit route numbers were never used for that purpose.
  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 actually had no proposed improvements, realignments or modifications to the route of M-86 during that timeframe!
History: 1919 (Nov 6) Updated Even though the general corridor is earmarked as part of the route of M-66 running from Lowell through Belding, Greenville, Six Lakes, Remus, Barryton, and Lake City toward Kalkaska, the 11.8-mile portion from M-46 at Six Lakes in Mecosta Co northerly to M-24 (present-day M-20) in Remus is officially determined as a state trunkline route and signed as M-86.
  1923 (July 6) Updated M-66 is lengthened by 67.3 miles through a mixture of concurrency with another trunkline route, by taking over the route of an existing trunkline highway, and via a significant segment of newly-determined state trunkline routing. From the former terminus of M-66 at M-46 at Lakeview, M-66 is extended to run easterly for 6.0 miles via M-46 from Lakeview to Six Lakes in Montcalm Co. From there, M-66 turns northerly to supplant the entire route of the existing M-86 from M-46 in Six Lakes northerly for 11.8 miles to M-24 (present-day M-20) in Remus. From Remus, M-66 is extended northerly along 49.5 miles of new trunkline highway to a new terminus at M-55 south of Lake City.
      Simultaneously—quite literally, on the very same day—a 3.1-mile long segment of state trunkline highway is determined from existing M-44 at the cnr of Belding Rd & Orleans Rd near Orleans in northern Ionia Co easterly along Belding Rd to M-43 (present-day M-66) at Woods Corners, six miles north of Ionia.
  1929 (Nov 25) Updated – The route of M-44 from Belding easterly (along with M-43 from Ionia northerly) is upgraded and realigned. In the process, M-44 completely supplants the route of M-86 between Orleans and Woods Corners, with most of the former M-44 between Orleans and Ionia being turned back to local control. Thus, the second iteration of M-86 passes from existence.
  1930 (Mar 31) Updated – The streets on the campus of Michigan State College (MSC) in East Lansing are transferred to the control of the State Highway Dept—a total of 0.6 mile. Namely, the streets which are now a single official state trunkline highway route with the designation M-86 include: Beal St, West Circle Dr, a portion of Auditorium Dr, and Farm Ln out to US-16/Grand River Ave. The campus streets are transferred to MSHD control at a time when many miles of roadway become state trunkline highways, oftentime short segments. Evidence indicates this M-86 designation is an unsigned one and it is never signed as such in the field. It also never appears on any official highway maps distributed to the motoring public, only being used on interal State Highway Dept maps and documentation.
  1931 (June 22) New! – The CIty of East Lansing passes a resolution at the rest of State Highway Commissioner Grover C. Dillman to have the city "place an asphalt surface on the gravel road through the Michigan State college campus and charge the cost to the state" as "the road is known as TL-86." Until this time, the main campus streets are still gravel-surfaced, but with their assumption into the state trunkline system the year prior, they now receive their first hard surfacing, with the city performing the work and the State Highway Dept reimbursing the city after.
  1939 (July 13) Updated – The 0.6 miles of MSC campus streets assumed as state trunkline routes nine years earlier are transferred back to college control, at the same time as many of the minor spurs and short highway segments around the state are transferred to local control. There is no obvious change to the motoring public, however, as M-86 on the Michigan State College campus was never a signed route.
  1940 (May 25–26) Updated – The Michigan State Highway Dept makes the decision to withdraw all single-digit route designations, reserving them for a future system of superhighways which were anticipated to be built over the next few decades. (Single-digit route designations were never used for the proposed superhighway system and would reappear in the state in the 1970s.) One of these single-digit highways—M-7 from US-131 at Three Rivers to US-112 just west of Coldwater—is redesignated as M-86, bringing about the third iteraiton of that route. The MSHD crews spend the weekend of May 25–26 replacing all M-7 route markers with M-86 signs along the route.
  1950 (Apr 25–27) New! – The south side of the M-86/M-78 bridge spanning the mill race in Colon in eastern Saint Joseph Co collapses under high water pressure on April 25. Only cars and light pick-up trucks are allowed to cross the remaining north half of the bridge one at a time, with local and highway officials concerned about the bridge's imminent collapse, which would cut the community in two and result in long detours. State Highway Dept workers begin construction of a temporary bridge two days later on April 27.
  1951 Updated – The final several miles of gravel-surfaced M-86 are paved in Branch Co.
  1962 (Apr 5) New! – A minor realignment around the southern end of Demijohn Lake in central Saint Joseph Rd west of Nottawa shaves 0.01 mile from the route of M-86. The highway formerly bent to the south at Demijohn Lake, but that former 0.26-mile route is obliterated and replaced by a direct 0.25-mile alignment running along the section line.
  1965 – With the change of all of M-78 from Battle Creek southerly to the Indiana state line, the north-south portion of the concurrent M-78/M-86 segment east of Nottawa becomes M-66/M-86, while the east-west M-78/M-86 routing into Colon becomes just M-86 when M-66 is routed north away from Colon.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-86 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-86 is on the National Highway System (NHS).
Memorial Highway: At present, no portion of M-86 has been designated as part of a Memorial Highway.
Photographs:  
Weblinks:
Back to M-85 Route Listings Home On to Former M-87