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Former M-12
Western Entrance:    Indiana state line at Michiana (just south of New Buffalo)
Eastern Terminus:    Downtown Detroit at cnr of Michigan Ave & Cass Ave, four blocks west of Woodward Ave
Length: 208.90 miles
Map: Route Map of US-12
Niles Area Trunklines Map, 2010–
Notes: Both the original routing of US-12 in Michigan, as well as the current routing, have been important transportation corridors in the Great Lakes region since before the arrival of the Europeans. Two of Michigan's major Native American foot trails ran along both routings of US-12. The predecessor to today's US-12 was once the Great Sauk Trail. Over time as European settlers began to settle across southern Michigan, these foottrails were gradually widened into major highways. The northern route, which was first M-17, then US-12, ran from Detroit, through Ann Arbor, Jackson, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo to St Joseph on Lake Michigan. The southern route, which was US-112, then US-12, ran from Detroit through Coldwater, Sturgis and Niles to New Buffalo on Lake Michigan. The northern route as US-12 fostered the growth of many of the cities along its route; so much so that the route was chosen for the proposed Detroit-Chicago Expressway in the early 1950s. In a time before the Interstate Highway System, a toll-free superhighway of this length (210 miles in Michigan alone) was unheard of. By the late 1950s, with several sections of freeway already complete and open, this entire route was incorporated into the path of I-94. With that, US-12 in Michigan was moved south to occupy the routing of US-112, which ceased to exist as a highway designation.
  New! For more detailed information on the route of US-112, please visit the Historic US-112 page.
  Prior to the construction of the Ohio Turnpike and Indiana East-West Toll Road, the route of today's US-12 (then designated as US-112) was earmarked as a corridor to be upgraded to expressway and/or freeway status. While the historic route of US-12 was the route connecting Detroit with Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor/St Joseph, US-112 was the more direct routing between Detroit and Chicago. Thus the Michigan State Highway Department had planned early on to upgrade the entire corridor to at least expressway status with bypasses of the larger cities and towns along the way. The Niles Bypass was constructed as part of this effort as was a partially-built (but never completed) interchange at M-52 near Clinton, however no other upgrades were ever completed.
  At one time MDOT attempted to alleviate some of the traffic problems along US-12/Michigan Ave in the "West Dearborn" section of Dearborn. MDOT had planned to move westbound traffic onto parallel Garrison St between Brady Rd on the east and Nowlin on the west, keeping eastbound traffic on Michigan Ave. A connection between Garrison St and Michigan Ave was completed on the west end and clearing and initial grading was underway on the east end when, according to Dave, "intense community opposition" halted progress on the project. Today, all US-12 traffic remains squeezed through the center of "Westborn" on Michigan Ave. —Many thanks to Dave Outen for this information!
  While two short segments of US-12 has been previously designated as Historic Heritage Routes, in Saline and Clinton/Clinton Twp, on June 9, 2004 the entire length of US-12 from New Buffalo on the Lake Michigan shore to the eastern terminus of US-12 in downtown Detroit was designated as a Historic Heritage Route in its entirety. And while most of the other Heritage Routes in Michigan have been designated with a descriptive name, this route continues to be known as just the US-12 Heritage Trail.
  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 innumerable upgrades to routes all across the state during that timeframe. As the MSHD was in the process of relocating the US-12 designation over to supplant the route of US-112 during the creation of these maps, the recommendations the planners had for the route of US-112 are presented here. Those recommendations included:
  • A US-112 (US-12) freeway departing I-94 near Union Pier at approximately Mile 5 and heading due easterly running parallel to and within 1½ miles of US-112 (US-12) to the Buchanan area. At Buchanan, the propose freeway bent slightly to the south to angle into a connection with the existing route of US-112 (US-12) at the western jct with BUS US-112 (BUS US-12, now M-139) southwest of Niles. The existing expressway bypass of Niles would then have been upgraded to full freeway standards.
  • From Niles, the US-112 (US-12) freeway would run almost due easterly Edwardsburg, bumping to the north to bypass the Four Lakes area east of Edwardsburg then back southeasterly to an interchange with a vastly upgraded and relocated M-205. The proposed freeway then would continue due easterly to a grade separation (no interchange!) at M-119 (now M-40) immediately north of the existing route of US-112, before jogging slightly to the north and continuing more-or-less easterly past White Pigeon and Sturgis and turning northeasterly south of Burr Oak into Branch Co. The proposed US-112 (US-12) freeway would cross over the existing highway southwest of Bronson and bypass that village to the south before turning northeasterly toward Coldwater. About ½ mile south of the Branch Co Airport, a BUS US-112 (BUS US-12) routing would depart to the northast toward Coldwater, while the US-112 (US-12) freeway turned due east to intersect the US-27 (now I-69) freeway southeast of the city. The proposed freeway would then shift northerly to skirt the north edge of Marble Lake and bypass Quincy to the south then running easterly past Allen and splitting between Hillsdale and Jonesville where the freeway would curve northeasterly past North Adams before turning easterly again running about three miles south of the existing highway through the Somerset area. After interchanging with a proposed US-127 freeway just northwest of Addison, the proposed US-112 (US-12) freeway continued east bypassing Onsted to the north continuing to an interchange with M-50 about two miles west of the existing M-52 & M-50 intersection where US-112 (US-12) would turn northeasterly to pass south of Clinton and then run almost due northeasterly, passing about 2½ miles west of Saline, to an interchange with I-94 about ½ mile southeast of the Ann Arbor-Saline Rd interchange at Ann Arbor. With the exception of the proposed business route through Coldwater, the remainder of the existing route of US-112 was to have been turned back to local control.
As with many other overly-ambitious proposals by the State Highway Dept in the late-1950s and into the 1960s, absolutely none of the US-112 (US-12) freeway recommendation was implemented at any level. with the I-80/I-90/Indiana East-West Toll Road running parallel to the first portion of this proposed freeway route (in parts within 10 miles or less), it is no suprise this freeway was never constructed. While some case could have been made for an upgraded facility between Coldwater and Ann Arbor could have been made, many other higher-priority projects meant this corridor would remain nearly unchanged over five decades later. No active plans for such a freeway have been put forward since.
History: 1920s The original state trunkline designations running along what later became US-12 are: M-11 from the Indiana state line to St Joseph, a concurrently designated M-11/M-17 from St Joseph to Watervliet, and M-17 alone from there to Ann Arbor where US-12 was routed over roads not formerly a part of the state highway system into Detroit.
  1926 Originally to be designated US-10 between Detroit and Chicago, US-12 was commissioned along the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Jackson-Battle Creek-Kalamazoo-St Joseph-Chicago route in 1926 along with the rest of the US Highway System in Michigan.
  1927 In one of the first major projects on the brand new US-12 in Berrien Co, the highway is realigned onto a more direct route from the Sawyer area to just south of Stevensville (along present-day Red Arrow Hwy) at Linco Rd, with the former route being turned back to local control.
  1928 Another segment of US-12/Red Arrow Hwy is completed bypassing downtown Stevensville in Berrien Co, from Linco to Glenlord Rds. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1929 Another segment of US-12/Red Arrow Hwy is completed from Glenlord Rd north of Stevensville in Berrien Co to Cleveland Ave south of downtown St Joseph. The former route of US-12 along Glenlord and Cleveland is turned back to local control.
  1931 Michigan Ave between Kalamazoo and Comstock is designated as US-12A, while US-12 is transferred to a new highway alignment (present-day King Hwy) running parallel to Michigan Ave to the south.
  c.1934 The westbound US-12 designation is removed from Territorial St through downtown Benton Harbor and now both directions utilize Main St. Territorial St between Pipestone and Fair Ave becomes a local street.
  c.1935–36 In late 1935 or early 1936, a new US-12A routing debuts at Battle Creek. Beginning at US-12/Upton Ave west of downtown, the new US-12A runs northerly across the Kalamazoo River to M-37/M-96/Michigan Ave, then turns easterly to follow M-37/M-96 along Michigan Ave through downtown and back to US-12 at the cnr of E Michigan Ave & James St. In 1936, when US-12 is rerouted onto Columbia Ave, the route of US-12A is correspondingly chaned: from the northern jct of US-12 & M-78 at the cnr of Capital Ave SW & Fountain St, US-12A now runs northasterly with M-78/Capital Ave to Michigan Ave, then turns east to follow M-96/Michigan Ave back to US-12 at James St.
  1936 A new alignment of US-12 opens from just east of Galesburg to M-78/Capital Ave in Battle Creek, trimming two miles from the route. The old route through Camp Custer is turned back to local control.
  1937 A new 15-mile long realignment opens from just east of Jackson to Sylvan west of Chelsea. The former route along Michigan Ave through Leoni and Grass Lake is turned back to local control.
  1939 Stadium Dr, a new bypass of the Western Michigan State College (now WMU) campus in Kalamazoo, opens for traffic with the US-12 designation. Beginning just west of downtown at Michigan Ave, Stadium Dr runs southwesterly via an old railroad grade back to Michigan Ave just east of Oshtemo. The former route along Michigan Ave is transferred to local control. Also, in Battle Creek, the route of US-12A along M-78 & M-96 through downtown is "decommissioned," with the existing M-78 and M-96 designations remaining.
  1940 A new 4.5-mile southern US-12 bypass of Chelsea is completed and opens to traffic. The former route along present-day Old US-12 is turned back to local control.
  1941 The southern bypass of Battle Creek (Columbia Ave easterly extension) is completed and is assigned the US-12 designation. Portions of the former route along Fountain, Main and Cliff Sts are turned back to local control. The remainder of the former route of US-12 through Battle Creek is incorporated into a brand-new BUS US-12 routing, beginning at the jct of US-12 & M-78 (cnr Columbia Ave & Capital Ave SW), running northerly with M-78 along Capital Ave into downtown, where the new BUS US-12 turns eastearly to follow M-96 along Michigan Ave back to US-12 at the Columbia Ave intersection east of the city.
  1949 (Dec 1) New! – The first 4½ miles of the two-lane "Jackson North Belt" bypass is completed from the existing alignment of US-12 (at present-day jct of I-94 & BL I-94 northeast of Jackson near former Exit 144) then westerly to M-106/Cooper St north of downtown Jackson. While it isn't clear if US-12 is officially routed over this segment then temporarily to the south along M-106/Cooper St at this point, only automobile traffic is allowed at first with trucks being banned from the route which cost $519,000 to construct.
  1951 (June 22) New! – A 3.86-mile long segment of the relocated US-12 is completed south of Galesburg in Kalamazoo Co. It is not clear if US-12 traffic is routed over the new segment of highway or if it is even open to traffic at all until additional segments are completed in the future. (This segment would be assumed into the route of I-94 later in the decade.)
  1951 (Dec) Updated – An additional 1¼ mile of the "Jackson North Belt" bypass is completed and opened to traffic from M-106/Cooper St north of downtown westerly to M-50 northwest of the city. When this segment opens, the entire Jackson North Belt is officially signed as US-12, which then travels southerly along M-50 and US-127 along N East St into Jackson to rejoin the existing route of US-12 along W Michigan Ave. The former route of US-12 along Michigan Ave and Ann Arbor Rd from M-50/East St easterly to the beginning of the Jackson North Belt is redesignated as BUS US-12. The truck prohibition on the Jackson North Belt is also lifted as it is now open to all vehicle traffic.
  1952 (Nov 25) Updated The remaining portion of the US-12 "Jackson bypass" opens to traffic between Michigan Ave at Parma and M-50/N East Ave north of Jackson along another portion of what would become the I-94 freeway in less than a decade. The former route of US-12 between US-127 in Jackson and Parma is turned back to local control. The BUS US-12 designation at Jackson is extended northerly along US-127 & M-50 to end at the US-12 bypass north of the city.
  1953 (Nov 5) Updated – A 10-mile westerly extension of the US-12 "Jackson North Belt" bypass is completed and opened to traffic from M-50 northwest of downtown Jackson westerly to the existing route of US-12 along Michigan Ave west of Parma (at present-day Exit 128). The two-lane limited access expressway utilizes what would become the ebd lanes of I-94 in less than a decade. Interestingly, this segment of highway would not be officially determined as a state trunkline route for more than three years while the former route of US-12 along Michigan Ave from Jackson westerly through Parma officially remains as an unsigned state trunkline highway route.
  1953 (Nov 10) New! – Almost two full years after opening to traffic, the 1.21-mile long segment of the US-12 "Jackson North Belt" between M-106/Cooper St and M-50 on the north side of Jackson is officially determined as a state trunkline highway.
  1953 The concurrent US-12/US-31 routing in the St Joseph and Benton Harbor is reduced to just 8 blocks through downtown St Joseph when a new alignment of US-31 opens north of the city.
  1956 Major changes to US-12 occur during 1956, including:
  • A new US-12 southern bypass of Ann Arbor opens to traffic, linking up with the former M-17 and BYP US-112 freeway bypassing Ypsilanti to the south. The new freeway bypass of Ann Arbor begins at present-day Exit 172 near Weber's Inn, and continues southerly and easterly to Carpenter Rd and the previously-completed M-17/BYP US-112 bypass, then farther east to the M-112/Willow Run Expwy east of Ypsilanti. The former route of US-12 from the west end of the new freeway west of Ann Arbor, through downtown, then northeast along Plymouth Rd past Plymouth and into Detroit is redesignated as M-14. For the first time, US-12 and US-112 run concurrently for four miles along the Ypsilanti bypass while the former US-112 along Michigan Ave through downtown becomes BUS US-112.
  • From M-17/BYP US-112 southeast of Ypsilanti, the entire M-112 designation along the Willow Run, Detroit Industrial & Edsel Ford Expwys into Detroit at the John C Lodge Expwy is replaced by the US-12 designation. At the John C Lodge, US-12 turns southerly to head into downtown Detroit—becoming the Lodge's first route designation! (The portion of the Willow Run Expwy from Wiard Rd to Northline Rd was only a limited-access divided "expressway" at the time, with access only at select crossroads, and was converted to full "freeway" in later years.)
  • Yet another change to US-12 is the the conversion of the Jackson bypass to a fully-controlled access freeway. The freeway begins at Michigan Ave on the west side of Parma and ends at the eastern jct of BUS US-12 east of Jackson.
  1957 The 1953 highway alignment of US-12 between the east side of Kalamazoo and a point just east of Galesburg is converted to a fully-limited access freeway in late-1957, from present-day Exit 81 to Exit 88.
  1958 Additional changes to US-12 during 1958:
  • A new portion of the US-12 freeway opens between the west end of the current freeway at Kalamazoo (present-day Exit 81) and US-131/Westnedge Ave on the south side of Kalamazoo. Evidence points to the fact, however, that this freeway segment remains un-numbered for the time being, as it does not connect back with US-12 west of Kalamazoo as of yet.
  • Another segment of freeway is completed from the east end of the Kalamazoo-Galesburg segment at present-day Exit 88 to the Kalamazoo/Calhoun Co line at present-day Exit 92 southwest of Battle Creek.
  • A westerly extension of the US-12 bypass of Jackson opens from Michigan Ave at Parma to M-99 northeast of Albion.
  • A new freeway connector opens from M-60/Spring Arbor Rd to I-94/US-12 northwest of Jackson, part of which carries an extended BUS US-12 designation south of Michigan Ave, then easterly to meet the established BUS US-12 in Jackson.
  • The first I-94 route markers appear along the US-12 freeway between Ann Arbor and Detroit.
  1959 Many more changes to US-12 come in 1959:
  • A segment of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from Coloma to 64th St at Hartford. The former US-12 along Red Arrow Hwy is turned back to local control.
  • Another segment of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from M-119 (present M-40 at Exit 60) south of Paw Paw to the completed freeway at US-131/Westnedge Ave south of Kalamazoo. The I-94 designation is posted easterly along the previously complete US-12 freeway toward Battle Creek. The former US-12 from Paw Paw to Oshtemo is turned back to local control, while the portion from Oshtemo through downtown Kalamazoo is re-designated as BUS US-12.
  • An extended segment of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from the Kalamazoo/Calhoun Co line (at present-day Exit 92) easterly past Battle Cree kand across all of Calhoun Co to hook into the completed freeway at M-99. Much of the former route along Michigan Ave is turned back to local control, except three segments: from Battle Creek to the Ceresco area, through downtown Marshall, and through downtown Albion, which are each signed as BUS US-12.
  1960 Additional changes to the route of US-12 across the state:
  • A segment of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from Red Arrow Hwy at Stevensville, around St Joseph/Benton Harbor to the completed freeway at Coloma. The former route through the downtowns of Saint Joseph and Benton Harbor is designated as BL I-94. The remaining portion of Old US-12 along Red Arrow Hwy becomes a local road.
  • The final I-94/US-12 segment in Van Buren Co opens between Hartford and M-119 at Paw Paw. The former route along Red Arrow Hwy becomes a local road.
  • BUS US-12 through Kalamazoo is re-designated as BL I-94.
  • BUS US-12 through downtown Battle Creek is redesignated as BL I-94 and partially routed along the new I-194/M-78 freeway.
  • The designations of the BUS US-12 routes between Battle Creek and Ann Arbor are redesignated as BL I-94 in Marshall, Albion and Jackson.
  • A lengthly segment of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from the east jct of BL I-94 (formerly BUS US-12, at present-day Exit 144) northeast of Jackson to the west end of the completed freeway on the west side of Ann Arbor. The former route is turned back to local control, except for a stretch in eastern Jackson Co where the old alignment was incorporated into the new freeway. As an aside, the I-94/US-12 freeway becomes the first "cross-state" freeway in the United States, running non-stop from Stevensville to Detroit.
  • A new BL I-94 designation is added at Ann Arbor, beginning at the present Exit 172, heading easterly along M-14/Jackson Rd-Huron St into downtown Ann Arbor, then southeasterly with US-23 on Huron St, Washtenaw Ave and Carpenter Rd back to I-94/US-12.
  1961 In a 'final hurrah' for US-12, an additional 20 miles of the I-94/US-12 freeway opens from US-112/M-60 at New Buffalo to the western end of the completed freeway at Red Arrow Hwy in Stevensville. The former route of US-12 along Red Arrow Hwy between US-112 and Stevensville is turned back county control. The short section of US-112/M-60 between Red Arrow Hwy and the new freeway is redesignated as US-12. US-12 now runs concurrently with I-94 for 209 miles from New Buffalo to Detroit.
  1961 (June) Even as the above realignments to the route of US-12 are taking place, the Michigan State Highway Department petitions the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) to have the US-12 designation removed from its route between New Buffalo and Detroit—nearly the entire length of the route in Michigan!—and moved to supplant the existing US-112 designation between those cities. Approval is granted in June and preparations begin. (More information on this and the rest of US-12's history across the U.S. can be found at the Federal Highway Administration's website.)
  1962 (Jan 1) Updated One of the biggest changes ever to US-12 occurs on January 1, 1962 when the concurrent US-12 designation is removed from I-94 between New Buffalo in Berrien Co and Detroit in Wayne Co, with the exception of the Ypsilanti bypass, where the two routes remain co-signed. The US-12 designation is routed along US-112 for its entire length and US-112 is decommissioned forever. The former BUS US-112 routes through Niles and Ypsilanti are re-designated as BUS US-12 in each city. According to site contributor Ron Wilbanks, instead of erecting all new "US-12" route markers along the former route of US-112, the State Highway Department instead blocked out the first "1," leaving only an off-center "12" on the highway shields between New Buffalo and Detroit. Over time, as the signs need replacement, they were replaced by "real" US-12 route markers. —Thanks Ron for the information!
  1966 The concurrent M-60 designation between New Buffalo and Niles is removed.
  1971 The BUS US-12 designation between I-94 Exit 181 and downtown Ypsilanti is moved from Michigan Ave onto Huron St between I-94 Exit 183 and downtown. The former trunkline routing along Michigan Ave is turned back to local control.
  1994 (Jan 3) – The portion of BUS US-12 from BUS M-60/Oak St southeasterly via Main St to the US-12 & M-60 interchange southeast of Niles is removed from this routing and transferred onto the 11th St alignment, joining BUS US-31 there and supplanting the US-33 designation in the process. US-33 is scaled back to a terminus at the US-12 interchange south of the city at the new eastern terminus of BUS US-12 as well. Main St from BUS M-60/Oak St southeasterly to the Berrien/Cass Co line is turned back to local control, while the (very) short portion of the former BUS US-12 from the county line to the US-12 & M-60 junction remains as a short unsigned state highway stub. It has been reported, however, that this change may have been made in 1987 in terms of signage in the field with the actual jurisdictional transfer taking place in 1994. —Thanks Marc! (See Niles Area Trunklines Map, 2010–)
  c.1997 – The concurrent BUS US-31 designation along BUS US-12 from jct US-12 & US-33 (now M-51) to downtown Niles is removed, leaving only the BUS US-12 designation along the route.
  2001 (Mar 15) During a spate of jurisdictional transfers in the City of Detroit, which includes several former state trunklines in the Campus Martius area of downtown being transferred back to City of Detroit control, US-12 is shortened by four city blocks, or approximately ¼-mile. The eastern terminus of US-12 is now Griswold St, which is the western boundary of Detroit's Campus Martius project. Map of Campus Martius transfers.
  2005 (June 8) An additional 0.23 mile (approximately three blocks) of US-12/Michigan Ave in downtown Detroit from Griswold St westerly to Cass Ave is transferred to city control along with a lump-sum payment of $1,321,000 in lieu of any improvements to the street itself. This transfer is very likely related to the early-2001 transfers and the Campus Martius Project.
Controlled Access: Freeway: Around Ypsilanti concurrent with I-94 between Exits 181 and 185.
  Expressway: Two segments of US-12 exist as expressway:
  1. At Niles from US-31 southwest of Niles to jct M-60.
  2. At Ypsilanti from I-94 at Exit 185 easterly to the jct of BUS US-12 east of Ypsilanti.
NHS: Updated US-12 is part of the NHS in two different segments:
  • In the Niles area from US-31 at Exit 5 southwest of Niles to jct US-12 & M-60 southeast of Niles. (5.3 miles) (This segment was added in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
  • From US-131 at White Piegon easterly to US-12's eastern terminus in downtown Detroit. (107 miles) (The segments of US-12 from US-131 at White Pigeon to I-69 at Coldwater, from Ecorse Rd at Willow Run east of Ypsilanti to Bellville Rd in Canton Twp, and from M-10/John C Lodge Frwy east to Griswold St in downtown Detroit were added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Circle Tour: Lake Michigan Circle Tour MarkerLake Michigan Circle Tour: From Indiana at Michiana to I-94 at Exit 4 northeast of New Buffalo.
Pure Michigan
Historic Heritage Route MarkerUS-12 Heritage Trail: From New Buffalo to downtown Detroit.
Business Connections:
  • FORMER BUS US-12 - Niles. From US-12 southwest of Niles, through downtown to jct US-12 & M-51 south of Niles. Decommissioned, 2010. West poriton is now part of M-139, east portion retains the concurrent M-51 designation.
  • BUS US-12 - Ypsilanti. From I-94/US-12 south of Ypsilanti, through downtown to US-12 east of town.
Continue on: US-12 into Indiana - via the Indiana Highway Ends website
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