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M-22
US-23 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Former M-23
Southern Entrance:    From Ohio southeast of Ottawa Lake and southwest of Lambertville (17 miles south of Dundee)
Northern Terminus:    I-75 at Exit 338 in Mackinaw City
Length: 364.07 miles
Map: Route Map of US-23
Notes: In the early days, US-23 between Toledo and Flint was considered somewhat of a "secondary" route. Today, however, it is one of Michigan's busier freeways through that stretch, carrying traffic around Metro Detroit as well as high levels of Ann Arbor commuter traffic.
  According to site contributor Ron Wilbanks, the original alignment for a US-23 bypass of Ann Arbor was along the present-day routing of Huron Parkway in the eastern portion of the city. This early bypass, proposed in the early 1950s according to Mr. Wilbanks, would not have been a controlled-access freeway, and if it had been constructed, might have drastically altered the freeway development in the Ann Arbor area. In anticipation of the new "bypass," the University of Michigan purchased a great deal of land in the northeastern portion of Ann Arbor so as to be able to expand their campus toward the new highway. After re-evaluating their plans for freeways around the state in the mid-1950s, Mr. Willbanks states the State Highway Dept. decided instead to build the current limited-access freeway bypass futher away from town in order to have enough room for interchanges and right-of-way. Later, the present-day Huron Parkway was constructed on the proposed US-23 bypass alignment as a four-lane boulevard. This information has also been supported by various MDOT maps and sources from the 1930s and 1940s. —Thanks Ron!
  In the decades before the completion of the Mackinac Bridge, the northern terminus of US-23 (and US-27 & US-31, for that matter) was at the State Ferry Docks in Mackinaw City. In the village of Mackinaw City, all three highways combined together and ran to the docks. In the years leading up to the construction of the Bridge, massive traffic delays were all too common, at times backing up as far as Cheboygan more than 15 miles distant! When the Mackinac Bridge was opened on November 1, 1956, the US Highway designations were similarly grouped together and extended to the southernmost end of the Bridge where they ended. (US-27 did continue across the bridge for a short time before I-75 replaced it.) US-23 and US-31 shared a common northern terminus at the southern end of the Bridge until the early 1990s.
  According to Scott "Kurumi" Oglesby, the remainder of the "non-freeway" portion of US-23 from Standish to Mackinaw City via Tawas and Alpena was proposed for inclusion in the Interstate Highway System as a part of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1968. While no route designation is indicated, this route, had it been approved, may have been designated I-73, as that route number had not yet been used back in the late-1960s. For more information, see Scott's Interstate System Add Requests: March 1970.
  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 major changes to the route of US-23 during that timeframe, including:
  • Completion of the US-23 freeway from the Ohio state line northerly to the Standish area. This process was currently underway in 1960 with some segments of this freeway completed, others under construction, and still others in the planning stages. The Ohio-to-Standish portion of the US-23 freeway was completely almost exactly as envisioned on the 1960s planning maps by 1967.
  • Construction of a US-23 freeway splitting off I-75 approximately 3–4 miles southwest of Standish and running almost due northeasterly skirting Standish and Omer to the south and continuing directly toward Tawas City. There, the proposed freeway would have turned slightly northerly before curving back to the east to bypass the cities of Tawas City and East Tawas to the west and north with a proposed BUS US-23 routing through both cities. From the east side of East Tawas, the US-23 freeway was to have stuck close to the railroad corridor from there past Au Sable and Oscoda (Wurtsmuth Air Force Base was a major obstacle needing to be avoided at the time) and into Alcona Co. Near Greenbush, the proposed US-23 freeway would have veered slightly away from the railroad corridor, but remaining within a mile to the west of the existing highway as it bypassed Harrisville to the west. Approximately a mile south of the hamlet of Alcona, the freeway would have crossed existing US-23 to run on an alignment that roughly split the distance between the existing highway and the Lake Huron shoreline. As it entered Alpena Co, the proposed freeway curved to the northeast to cross back to the west side of the existing highway immediately south of Ossineke then turned north to run along the western shore of Devils Lake to Werth Rd where it would have interchanged with the southern end of a proposed BUS US-23 routing for Alpena. The freeway would have bent slightly to the east interchanging with M-32 approximately 3/4 mile west of Bagley St, having another interchange at Long Rapids Rd & Bagley St itself, before merging back with the existing highway north of Alpena between Golf Course Rd and the D&M Railway crossing. With the exception of the proposed BUS US-23 routings at Tawas City-East Tawas and Alpena, nearly all of the remainder of the existing route of US-23 was to have been turned back to local control under this recommendation. Unlike the freeway recommendation in the first bullet point, none of the proposals from this second point were ever constructed, although plans for such a project were strongly considered in the early 1970s and again in the 1990s before being shelved in 2002.
  For details on the proposed US-23 freeway project from the 1990s, please see the "The Tug-of-War That Was the US-23 Freeway" article in the In-Depth section. A summary of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed freeway is available for your perusal, as it originally appeared on the MDOT website.
History: 1926 When the US Highway System debuts in 1926, US-23 is routed the length of the Lower Peninsula, entering Michigan from Ohio at Toledo and ending at the Straits of Mackinac. The new US-23 is routed along existing state trunkline highways in its entirety. From the Ohio line northerly through Ida to Ypsilanti, US-23 replaces M-65, then turns westerly—still replacing the M-65 designation—running concurrently with M-17 into downtown Ann Arbor where US-23 again turns northerly supplanting M-65 through Brighton and Fenton, meeting with the new US-10 at Flint. From Flint to Saginaw, US-10 and US-23 run concurrently along what had been M-10. From Saginaw, US-23 continues northerly replacing M-10 into Bay City and further via Pinconning to Standish and northeasterly to Omer. The new US-23 then bends northerly again via Twining and Whittemore before turning east running into Tawas City. From there, US-23—still supplanting M-10—continues northerly and easterly into Oscoda, then northerly again via Lincoln and Spruce to Alpena. US-23 then turns westerly to Lachine and northerly again via Posen and into Rogers City. US-23, following the former M-10, then runs westerly via Onaway and Tower before curving northerly again via Aloha to Cheboyan, bending northwesterly to Mackinaw City and its northern terminus. In all, US-23 replaces all of M-65 and a major portion of M-10 within Michigan.
  1928 A short realignment moves US-23 off a portion of the present-day Old Mackinaw Tr near the hamlet of Freedom in northwestern Cheboygan Co and onto its present alignment. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1929 US-23 is transferred from the western to the eastern shore of the Saginaw River between Saginaw and Bay City, along the route of present-day M-13 between those cities. The former route of US-23 west of the river, according to trusted sources, is intially redesignated as US-23A. That designation, however, disappears from all official maps by late 1930 or early 1931, and is replaced by M-47 (now M-84). It can be assumed AASHO (today's AASHTO) denied Michigan's request for the US-23A designation, forcing the state to substitute a state trunkline designation for the route instead. Also in 1929, US-23 is realigned onto the rest of its present alignment from Cheboygan northwesterly toward Freedom, with the former route along Old Mackinaw Tr being turned back to local control.
  1930 A relatively major realignment occurs in Monroe and Washtenaw Cos. From its junction with M-50 north of Ida, US-23 is rerouted westerly along M-50 into Dundee where US-23 now turns northerly to run through Azalia and Milan and due northerly back to the former alignment at M-17/Washtenaw Ave between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. The portion of the former route from M-50 northerly to M-130 is redesignated as part of M-130, with the remainder from there through Maybee, Oakville and Whittaker into downtown Ypsilanti being turned back to local control. The interesting point is that this rerouting is only meant as a temporary measure until a proposed route of US-23 on brand-new alignment can be built linking the existing highway at Ida with the east side of Milan on a roadway running generally along the east side of the Saline River. Throughout the 1930s, the Dundee-Milan routing of US-23 is only considered temporary by the Dept of State Highways.
  1931 Changes to US-23 this year include:
  • A short realignment is completed in southeastern Livingston Co when US-23 is routed onto present-day Whitmore Lake Rd from 8 Mile Rd northerly to US-16/Grand River Ave southeast of Brighton. From there, US-23 runs northwesterly with US-16 back to its former alignment in Brighton. Much of the former route along Lemen, 9 Mile, Spicer, Musch, Winans Lake and Rickett Rds is turned back to local control, with the exception of the 9 Mile Rd segment, which becomes part of M-36.
  • US-23 is rerouted from Bay City to Kawkawlin westerly from downtown Bay City along M-20/Midland Ave, then onto the present-day route of M-13 along Euclid Ave and Huron Rd northerly to Kawkawlin and the former alignment. The old route of US-23 along Henry St and Old Kawkawlin Rd in Bay City is redesignated as an extension of M-29 (predecessor to present-day M-25).
  • Additionally during 1931, a 6-mile stretch of state trunkline is completed from the 90-degree turn in US-23 east of Omer (present-day jct US-23 & M-65) into the village of Au Gres. This highway, which would become part of a rerouted US-23 within a year, does not carry a route designation during 1931.
  1932 The realignment in Arenac & Iosco Cos is completed when a segment of new highway is completed from Au Gres via Alabaster to Tawas City, and assigned the US-23 designation. The former segment of US-23 from just east of Omer northerly via Twining and Whittemore to M-55 is designated as M-65, while the east-west portion from there easterly into Tawas City is redesignated as an extension of M-55.
  1933 US-23 is realigned in Alcona & Alpena Cos along two miles of present F-41 and onto its present-day alignment from the northern jct of F-41 to Werth Rd southwest of Alpena. The former route of US-23 along Roe, Gillard and E Spruce Rds in Alcona Co, and along Spruce and Werth Rds in Alpena Co is redesignated as M-171.
  1933–34 In 1933, approximately 8 miles of new highway are completed along the Lake Huron shoreline from Au Sable southerly to present-day Scott Rd. This segment is likely not signed until the next year, when five more miles of new highway are completed into East Tawas, connecting with the former alignment of US-23 there. The US-23 designation is transferred to the new lakeshore routing, while the fomer inland route along Monument, Wilber, Galion, Sherman, Curtis, Brooks, Esmond, Wells and Au Sable Rds is turned back to local control.
  1935 A 14-mile stretch of future US-23 east of Cheboygan is completed as a "graded earth" road to the Presque Isle Co line, but is not yet designated as part of US-23. The remainder of the route between the county line and the northern terminus of M-91 between P.H. Hoeft State Park and Hammond is under construction. Also begun is construction on a new easterly alignment between Harrisville and the Alcona/Alpena Co line. In both instances, US-23 maintains its inland routing.
  1935–36 Another "shoreline rerouting" project moves US-23 closer to Lake Huron in Alcona Co. A three-mile segment of new highway is completed in 1935 from M-72 in Harrisville northerly, while an eight-mile segment of new highway is completed from the existing US-23 (at present-day northern jct of US-23 & F-41) southeasterly to near the community of Alcona in early 1936. By the end of 1936, the last four-mile stretch in between the completed segments is completed and the entire new highway north of Harrisville is designated as US-23, with all of M-72 from Harrisville southerly to Oscoda being redesignated as part of US-23 as well. The former inland route of US-23 through Lincoln is redesignated as M-171, while the older M-171—itself an older route of US-23—is removed from the state highway system and transferred back to local control.
  1936 US-23 is routed to the east of Brighton, bypassing the city on the current route of Old US-23 north of Grand River Ave to Hilton Rd. The former concurrent US-16/US-23 designation on Grand River Ave from Whitmore Lake Rd into downtown Brighton reverts to just US-16, while the former US-23 along Flint & Hilton Rds is transferred to local control.
  1938 The final 17 miles of US-23 from Cheboygan to Mackinaw City are concurrently designated with a northerly extension of US-27. Formerly, US-27 had ended in Cheboygan at US-23.
  1939 Another 11 miles of new highway are completed from Alpena northerly to the Alpena/Presque Isle Co line in early 1939, but this segment is not yet assigned a highway designation, pending completion of the portion of the highway still under construction from the county line northwesterly to Rogers City. In late 1939, however, the remaining 13 miles of new highway from the Alpena/Presque Isle Co line to the existing US-23 southeast of Rogers City is completed and opened to traffic, signed as US-23. The former US-23/M-32 concurrency from Alpena westerly to Lachine reverts to just M-32, while the portion from Lachine northerly via Posen to just southeast of Rogers City is designated as an extension of M-65.
  1940 The first segment of the relocated US-23 between Hartland and Fenton opens from just south of Hartland to present-day Faussett Rd along today's Old US-23, but is not designated as US-23 pending completion of the remainder of the relocation.
  1941 Three realignments of US-23 take place. They are:
  • The remainder of the Hartland-Fenton realignment is completed from Faussett Rd northerly to Shiawassee Rd southwest of downtown Fenton along present-day Old US-23. The former alignment of US-23 along Hartland Rd is turned back to local control.
  • Lafayette Ave and Salzburg Ave in southern Bay City are transferred to state control and designated as US-23, with that designation continuing northerly with M-47 on Euclid Ave back to the existing US-23 (at Midland St) in western Bay City. The former US-23 through downtown Bay City on Garfield Ave, Washington Ave and Midland St is redesignated as BUS US-23, one of a new crop of BUSINESS US routes designated in Michigan this year.
  • The final major relocation of US-23 north of Standish is completed between Rogers City and Cheboygan, running along the Lake Huron shoreline for the entire route. From Rogers City northwesterly to the Hammond Bay area, US-23 supplants the M-91 designation in its entirety. From Hammon Bay northwesterly to Cheboygan, US-23 runs along new highway constructed over the previous six years. The former US-23 from Rogers City westerly to Onaway is redesignated as M-68, with the east-west stretch west of Onaway becoming a concurrent M-33/M-68, and from M-68 northerly to US-27 south of Cheboygan, the former US-23 is redesignated as part of M-33. In all, this new alignment saves about 12 miles on the trip from Rogers City to Cheboygan over the old route.
  1942 M-65 from US-23 south of Rogers City into downtown and a portion of what had been designated M-91 previously from downtown northwesterly back to the new US-23 northwest of downtown Rogers City is designated as BUS US-23.
  1947 US-23 is realigned onto new highway (present-day Ann Arbor Rd) from M-50 west of Dundee northerly to Cone Rd just north of Azalia. The former route along Dundee-Azalia Rd is turned back to local control, with a portion of this route now consumed by the Dundee Cement Co plant north of Dundee. Also in 1947, the last remaining gravel-surfaced segment of US-23, in northwestern Presque Isle Co, is paved.
  1951 A new highway alignment is constructed starting at Cone Rd near Azalia (in Monroe Co) east of the old alignment and bypassing Milan to the east. This new highway is to be later incorporated into the US-23 freeway, explaining the two very narrow, single span railroad overpasses at Milan and Cone Rd, originally not constructed for a four-lane freeway.
  1953 A new eastern bypass of Saginaw is completed from Bridgeport to M-81 northeast of Saginaw. US-23 is routed along this new bypass to M-81, then westerly with M-81 back to the existing route. The former route through Saginaw becomes BUS US-23.`
  1957 A 10-mile segment of US-23 expressway is completed from north of downtown Ann Arbor to Baker Rd in Whitmore Lake. The former route of US-23 along Whitmore Lake Rd is turned back to local control.
  1957 (Nov 1) In Mackinaw City, the US-23/US-27 routing is transferred to a new roadway leading to the Mackinac Bridge approach, joining US-31. US-23 and US-31 both end at the southernmost point of the Mackinac Bridge, while US-27 continues across into the Upper Peninsula.
  1958 US-23 is transferred onto the newly-opened "Fenton-Clio Expressway," a fully controlled-access freeway linking US-23 at the Livingston/Genesee County line at Fenton with Birch Run Rd at Birch Run. The former US-23 from Fenton to downtown Flint is turned back to local control, while the portions paired with BUS US-10 and US-10 retain those other designations. Evidence points to this freeway opening in two segments: Fenton to Miller Rd at Flint, then from Miller Rd northerly to Birch Run, likely within several months of each other.
  1959 Early in 1958, the initial 8 miles of freeway connecting US-223 at Sylvania, Ohio with M-50 & US-23 at Dundee are completed between M-50 and Summerfield Rd. By the end of the year, the entire 18-mile freeway from Sylvania northerly to Dundee is open to traffic and signed as part of US-23. The former route of US-23 along Lewis Ave from the Ohio state line to M-50 is turned back to local control, while the concurrent stretch along M-50 westerly into Dundee retains the M-50 designation. Also in 1959, another short segment of US-23 freeway is completed from M-81 at the north end of the US-23 Saginaw Bypass to M-13 just northwest, while a new Saginaw River crossing is under construction.
  1960 Several changes come to US-23 in 1960:
  • The I-75 designation is added to US-23 on the "Fenton-Clio Expressway" from Maple Rd southwest of Flint northerly to the terminus of the freeway at Birch Run Rd east of downtown Birch Run. The US-23 designation is, of course, retained.
  • A segment of US-23 freeway opens from 8 Mile Rd at Whitmore Lake northerly to Lee Rd southeast of Brighton, 1 mile south of jct. US-16. The former route of US-23 along present-day Whitmore Lake Rd is turned back to local control.
  • Additionally, a segment of the I-75/US-10/US-23 freeway opens from the jct of US-23 & M-13, crosses the Saginaw River on a four-lane bascule bridge (drawbridge) and continues northerly past Bay City (where the US-10 freeway departs for Midland), ending in Kawkawlin. The US-10 designation is moved onto the Saginaw bypass and the newly completed freeway north to Bay City. The former alignment of US-23 between Saginaw and Kawkawlin becomes an extension of M-13. The former BUS US-23 through Saginaw becomes, in part, BL I-75.
  1961 Five more US-23 freeway segments open to traffic:
  • From M-50 at Dundee to the fomer alignment (Carpenter Rd) north of Milan, using much of the two-lane route completed in 1951.
  • The four-lane divided expressway between Ann Arbor and 8 Mile Rd at Whitmore Lake is converted to full-freeway standards. Overpasses and interchanges are constructed making the route fully-controlled access.
  • From the northern end of the freeway at Lee Rd southeast of Brighton, a new segment of freeway ties into a new interchange with the I-96/US-16/Brighton-Farmington Expressway
  • The four-lane divided expressway from just north of M-59 at Hartland to the southern end of the "Fenton-Clio Expressway" at Fenton is completed.
  • Finally, from the northern end of the "Fenton-Clio Expressway" at Birch Run to the southern end of the freeway opened to traffic in 1959 at M-81 northeast of Saginaw, the freeway is opened. Between Bridgeport and M-81, the two-lane bypass completed in 1952 is used for part of the new freeway. The former US-23 south of Bridgeport along Dixie Hwy is turned back to local control.
The last two segments above form a 75-mile long US-23 freeway from Hartland in Livingston Co to Kawkawlin in central Bay Co.
  1962 Two additional segments of US-23 freeway open to traffic, completing a 150-mile long US-23 freeway from the Ohio state line through to Kawkawlin, north of Bay City:
  • From the northern end of the freeway just north of Milan then northerly around Ann Arbor, connecting with the completed freeway north of Ann Arbor (present-day Exit 45). The former route of US-23 between Milan and M-17/Washtenaw Ave is turned over to local control. The portion along Washtenaw Ave, Huron St & Main St through downtown Ann Arbor is designated as BUS US-23.
  • From the north end of the freeway at I-96 at Brighton to south end of the freeway north of M-59, south of Hartland. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1965 The M-14 freeway connectors are completed east from US-23 (present-day Exit 42) and west (present-day Exit 45), with the three miles in between concurrently designated as US-23/M-14.
  1967 A 30-mile segment of US-23 freeway opens from the existing US-23 freeway 3 miles south of Kawkawlin northerly to end at the former alignment of US-23 three miles south of Standish. The former route from Kawkawlin to the north end of the freeway south of Standish becomes ALT US-23 at first, but then is redesignated as a further extension of M-13 when AASHTO refuses to allow the ALT US-23 designation to remain. The three mile segment of former US-23 freeway south of Kawkawlin bypassed by the new freeway is re-designated as CONN M-13.
  1973 With the completion of the last I-75 freeway segment between Standish and Grayling, the I-75 designation is routed northerly over the US-23 freeway from Bay City to Standish and beyond.
  1977 – US-223 is rerouted to follow the former routing fo M-151 east to US-23 at Exit 5, then southerly along with US-23 into Ohio.
  1987 US-10 in Michigan is shortened by approximately 110 miles from its former terminus in downtown Detroit to a new terminus at I-75/US-23 Exit 162 at Bay City. I-75/US-10/US-23 from Mile 115 at Flint to Mile 162 becomes just I-75/US-23. It took MDOT seven years to finally remove all the US-10 shields from this portion of the route.
  1993–94 The bulk of the US-10 route markers posted along I-75/US-23 between Flint and Bay City are finally removed. The US-10 designation was removed from this route in 1987.
  1994 A new US-23 freeway is announced to run from the north end of the current freeway at M-13 south of Standish to M-55 west of Tawas City at first, then later northeasterly to the Oscoda area. As with such projects many groups and individuals came out for and against the new freeway. Complete information on the proposal can be found in "The Tug-of-War That Was the US-23 Freeway" in the In-Depth section of this website.
  1999 As detailed in "The Tug-of-War That Was the US-23 Freeway," the proposed US-23 freeway is dealt a setback by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  2002 (June) After being rebuffed by the FHWA more than two years prior with regard to its plans to build a US-23 freeway between Standish and Iosco Co, MDOT, continued to plan for the eventuality of an upgraded facility of some type. As of June 2002, however the department and the FHWA agreed on the "no-build" option for the route and officially withdrew plans for the freeway.
  2004 (May 6) US-23 from Standish to Mackinaw City is officialy designated as a Recreational Heritage Route and given the moniker Sunrise Side Coastal Highway. (That moniker, however, has now evolved into the current name Huron Shores Recreational Heritage Route.) According to MDOT: "Initiated by Rep. Sheltrown and Tom Ferguson of Michigan's Sunrise Side Travel Association in the summer of 2001, the process began with the collection of resolutions of support from local units of government along the route. Northeast Michigan Council of Governments and East Michigan Planning & Development were contracted to develop a management plan for the route with the guidance and advice of local volunteers." More from the MDOT Press Release.
Controlled-Access: Freeway: From the Ohio state line to M-13 south of Standish. (190.3 miles)
Expressway: None.
Circle Tour: Lake Huron Circle Tour: From M-13 south of Standish to US-23's northern terminus in Mackinaw City.
NHS: Updated The entire length of US-23 is part of the NHS. (The segment of US-23 from M-32 in downtown Alpena to the route's northern terminus in Mackinaw City was added in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Business Connections:
  • BUS US-23 - Ann Arbor. From US-23 at Exit 37 east of Ann Arbor to jct US-23 & M-14 (at Exit 45) north of Ann Arbor.
  • FORMER BUS US-23 - Fenton. A somewhat unique pair of former spur routes from US-23 at Exit 78 into downtown (formerly mostly unsigned) and from US-23 at Exit 79 into downtown (formerly signed). Decommissioned December 7, 2006.
  • BUS US-23 - Rogers City. From US-23 south of Rogers City, through downtown, back to US-23 in the northwestern portion of the city.
Photographs:  
Continue on: US-23 into Ohio - via the AA Roads site.
Weblinks:
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