US-127.html Michigan Highways: Route Listings: M-50

Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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Western Terminus:    I-96 at Exit 50 south of Lowell
Eastern Terminus:    US-24/Telegraph Rd on the west side of Monroe (cnr Custer Rd-Front St & Telegraph Rd)
Length: 140.691 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-50
Notes: M-50 was once a "Coast-to-Coast" trans-peninsular highway, extending from Monroe on Lake Erie to the small hamlet of Agnew near the Lake Michigan shore in Ottawa Co south of Grand Haven. In the 1964, M-50 was truncated at I-96 near Lowell east of Grand Rapids and all of the former M-50 from Grand Rapids westerly toward Lake Michigan was redesignated as M-45.
  In June 1996, the route of M-50 was scaled back from I-75 northeast of Monroe to end in downtown Monroe at M-125, shortening the route by 2.66 miles. An additional 1.19 miles of M-50 in Monroe were turned back to local control in October 2006 when the portion of the route from US-24 to M-125 was turned back to local control.
  As part of replacing the M-50/Alden Nash Rd overpass on I-96 south of Lowell in 2014, MDOT chose the project to be the location of one of the department's first two "bridge slides." Built in 1959 and rehabilitated in 1980, the original overpass had outived its usefulness as well as being too narrow to accommodate growing traffic volumes. Traditional overpass replacement methods would include demolishing half of the existing overpass at a time and, similarly, constructing the replacement one half at a time as well or even closing the overpass completely to remove it and then construct its replacement on the same site. Complete closure would result in a detour of up to four miles and requiring the improvement of nearby county roads to handle the additional traffic. However, MDOT chose to employ a newer technique used only a handful of times in other states, but one with proven benefits at the same time as reducing motorist inconvenience. From a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) "Techbrief" on the topic:

"Slide-in Bridge Construction (SIBC) is a cost-effective technique in which roadway closures typically last 48 to 72 hours and may be even shorter. This technique builds a new bridge off site or on temporary supports parallel to an existing bridge, removes the old bridge, and then transports in the new bridge or, if built in parallel to the existing structure, slides the new bridge over onto the existing substructure or alignment. A growing number of State agencies have applied this method to improve safety, quality, and durability and to reduce construction and user delay costs as well as environmental impacts."

The replacement bridge was built on temporary supports from May through July 2014 and the original 1959 arched beam overpass was demolished the weekend of August 1. M-50/Alden Nash Ave traffic was shifted onto the new bridge (resting on temporary supports immediately to the west of the original overpass) beginning the first week of August while new bridge piers were constructed. The new overpass was slid into place and the whole project completed in November 2014.

Slide-In Bridge Construction Links:
Slide-In Bridge Construction TechBrief: Exeuctive Summary – from FHWA, Spring 2014
M-50 Bridge Replacement over I-96, Kent County – archived project site from MDOT
Bridge Slide Demonstration Video – on YouTube
  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 many changes to the route of M-50 during that timeframe, including:
  • Converting the existing alignment of M-50 to an unconrolled-access divided highway from the western city limit of Monroe west of Westwood Dr westerly to Lewis Ave-Ida Maybee Rd (then US-23 and proposed as part of an extended M-34 alignment). Only the portion of M-50 from west of Westwood Dr to approximately ¼ mile west of Raisinville Rd was upgraded to a divided highway, while the rest was never implemented.
  • Constructing a southern bypass of the small hamlet of Ridgeway, approximately 1½ miles west of downtown Britton in Lenawee Co, with the former route through the center of the community being turned back to local control. This proposal was never implemented.
  • Converting the existing alignment of M-50 to an uncontrolled-access divided highway from Adrian St on the west side of Tecumseh westerly to an interchange with the proposed M-47 freeway (never constructed) just west of Adrian Hwy. While right-of-way for the expanded highway was reserved on the north side of M-50, neither the divided highway conversion or the interchange with the M-47 freeway have ever come to pass.
  • Jurisdictionally transferring all of M-50 beginning at an interchange with a proposed US-112 freeway near the intersection of M-50/Monroe Rd & Wisner Hwy five miles west of downtown Tecumseh northwesterly through Cambridge Junction and Brooklyn to the southern US-127 junction southeast of Jackson to local control. (This would have, assumedly, resulted in a different route designation for either the Monroe–Tecumseh or Jackson–Holland segment, as the MSHD would have likely not run the M-50 designation westerly along the proposed US-112 freeway, then northerly along the proposed US-127 freeway to Jackson.) This concept was never implemented and M-50 remains a state trunkline along this route today.
  • Converting the existing alignment of M-50 to an uncontrolled-access divided highway from the northern jct with US-127 north of Jackson to Rives Junction Rd. This proposal was never acted upon.
  • A major realignment for M-50 from the Woodbury/Lake Odessa area westerly to the Lakeshore. From the 90° turn in the existing route of M-50 from Brown Rd onto Velte Rd southeast of Lake Odessa, M-50 was proposed to continue due westerly via Brown Rd across the majority of northern Barry Co, including new alignment segments from Hammond Rd near Freeport to Wood School Rd and across the Thornapple River at the hamlet of Parmalee. Approximately ¾ mile west of Whitneyville Rd, M-50 would have angled northwesterly to a junction with M-37/Cherry Valley Rd at the 108th St intersection on the Barry/Kent Co line south of Caledonia. From there, M-50 was proposed to continue westerly via 108th St to just east of 4th St in Allegan Co where it would have angled southwesterly past the northwestern shore of Green Lake to 6th St, then followed 144th Ave westerly across Allegan Co (including a new alignment segment between 43rd and 47th Sts) to a new terminus at M-40 in the southeastern portion of Holland. (There was to be no interchange with the proposed I-96—now I-196—freeway, as it would have been within a mile of the proposed M-40 interchange.) The segments of M-50 from Velte & Brown Rds southeast of Lake Odessa to US-16/Cascade Rd south of Lowell, concurrently with US-16 from there to I-96 east of Grand Rapids, and from Division Ave in downtown Grand Rapids westerly to US-31 at Agnew in Ottawa Co were to all have been transferred to local control, while the portion from I-96 east of Grand Rapids to Division Ave in downtown Grand Rapids would have remained a state trunkline with a BUS US-16 or BL I-96 designation. The vast majority of this proposal was ever implemented, although M-50 was truncated at I-96 south of Lowell and the portion of M-50 from downtown Grand Rapids westerly was redesignated as M-45 four years later.
History: c.1920 – In 1921, M-50 begins in downtown Monroe, running northwesterly to Grape, then southerly to meet M-65 (later US-23) north of Ida, then west-northwesterly along M-50s present-day routing through Dundee and Tecumseh, ending at M-23 (later US-112, now US-12) at Cambridge south of Brooklyn.
  1923 – The highway is rerouted onto a more direct alignment between downtown Monroe and M-65 (later US-23) north of Ida, shaving 1½ miles from the route.
  1925 – The route of M-50 is extended north from M-23 (soon to be designated US-112) at Cambridge through Brooklyn to Napoleon, then northwesterly to end in Jackson.
  1928 – The length of M-50 is more than tripled when the route is extended northwesterly to end at US-31 in Grand Haven. From Jackson, M-50 is extended northwesterly to Eaton Rapids, then westerly through Charlotte to Vermont (present-day Vermontville), then due northerly to meet M-39 east of Woodbury in northwestern Eaton Co. From there, M-50 replaces the M-39 designation through Lake Odessa to US-16 near Alto. From that point, M-50 runs concurrently with US-16/Cascade Rd-Fulton St into downtown Grand Rapids where it continues westerly via Fulton St and Lake Michigan Dr out of Grand Rapids and though Allendale before turning northwesterly to terminate at US-31 in Grand Haven.
  1928 (Aug 29) The segment of M-50 between Grand Rapids and US-31 south of Grand Haven is officially dedicated in ceremonies held in Allendale in central Ottawa Co, approximately halfway along the segment. Speaking at the ceremony are U.S. Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, State Senators James C. Quinlan and V.A. Martin, and State Highway Commissioner Frank F. Rogers.
  1928 (Sept 7) New! 2023-06 – The bridge carrying M-50/W Fulton St over the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids is officially dedicated as the Dean Memorial Bridge, named for Private William H. Dean who, during the Spanish-American War, was the first solider to volunteer to participate in Walter Reed's yellow fever expriments which eventually resulted in the discovery of mosquitoes as being the carrier of the disease.
  1930 – M-50 is realigned in two locations:
  • At Charlotte, M-50 now runs due northerly out of downtown via Cochran Rd for 13 miles to M-39, then westerly via (and replacing) M-39 for 12 miles back to the former alignment of M-50 near Woodbury. The former M-50 west of Charlotte along present-day Lawrence Hwy is turned back to county control, but would become part of M-79 four years later. From Lawrence Hwy northerly through Vermontville via Ionia Rd, the route is permanently turned back to county control.
  • West of Allendale, M-50 is realigned to run due westerly, terminating at US-31 in Agnew, 8 miles south of Grand Haven. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1934 The highway is realigned between Charlotte and Woodbury, shaving 6 miles from the route. From just north of Chartlotte, M-50 turns northwesterly via Clinton Tr to meet M-39 one mile east of M-14 (present-day M-66) near Woodbury. The former route of M-50 via Cochran Rd northerly from Charlotte is turned back to county control, while the former route from there through Sunfield and Mulliken is re-designated as a westerly re-extension of M-39 (as it had been before 1930).
  c.1936–37 In eastern Grand Rapids, US-16/M-50 is realigned off Lake Dr and Robinson Rd to join M-21 on E Fulton St. Lake Dr and Robinson Rd are turned back to local control.
  1940 (April/May) Updated 2023-09M-9 becomes M-99 and the concurrent stretch of M-9/M-50 south of Eaton Rapids becomes M-50/M-99.
  1940 (July 13, Aug 28) Updated 2023-09 – The reconstruction and realignment of M-99 between Eaton Rapids and Springport—which includes the portion of M-50 from Eaton Rapids to the Eaton/Jackson Co line—is completed and opened to traffic at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Gov Luren Dickinson and State Highway Commissioner Murray D VanWagoner on the southern limits of Eaton Rapids on August 28. The new route of M-50/M-99 was officially established as a trunkline route on July 13 with the former route cancelled as a trunkline and transferred to local control on the same day.
  1951US-127/M-50 (N West Ave) in Jackson is concurrently designated with US-12 with the completion of the "new Jackson bypass," an east-west highway beginning east of Jackson and heading westerly north of the city, ending at US-127 northwest of downtown.
  1953 (Summer) – M-50, along with US-16 and M-21, are rerouted to bypass Grand Rapids on the south (via 28th St or "South Beltline") and west (via Wilson Ave or "West Beltline"). The former route of M-50 through Grand Rapids (Cascade Rd–Fulton St–Lake Michigan Dr) becomes BUS M-50. Also, the concurrent US-12 designation with US-127/M-50 in Jackson is removed with the completion of the US-12 bypass of Jackson westerly from US-127.
  1954US-127 is rerouted south of Jackson, adding 4 miles to the concurrent US-127/M-50 designation.
  1955 – The final few miles of gravel-surfaced M-50 are paved, in northwest Eaton Co.
  1957 – With the completion of the new US-127 expressway north of Jackson, the concurrent US-127/M-50 designation is extended for an additional two miles.
  1959 – Three changes to M-50 this year:
  • When a stretch of the new I-96/US-16 freeway opens east of Whitneyville Ave in Kent County, M-50 is routed via the new freeway for 5 miles.
  • The new US-127 freeway bypass on the east side of Jackson opens and US-127/M-50 through Jackson becomes BUS US-127/M-50.
  • Additionally, the 5-mile concurrent US-23/M-50 designation is removed with the opening of the new US-23 freeway between Dundee and Sylvania, Ohio. The formerly-concurrent route becomes just M-50.
  1961 – The I-96/US-16/M-50 freeway is exteneded northwesterly from Whitneyville Ave in Kent County and the M-50 designation is rerouted via I-96/US-16 to Cascade Rd, then through Grand Rapids via its pre-1952 routing via Cascade Rd, Fulton St and Lake Michigan Dr. The former BYP US-16/M-50 routing (28th St and Wilson Ave) becomes M-11.
  1962US-16 is decomissioned in Michigan and the I-96/US-16/M-50 routing between present-day Exits 40 & 52 becomes just I-96/M-50.
  1964 (Nov 25, Dec 14) – State highway officials announce the truncation of M-50 at I-96 (at present-day Exit 52) south of Lowell in eastern Kent Co on November 25. The concurrent segment of I-96/M-50 from that location westerly toward Grand Rapids to Cascade Rd (at present-day Exit 40) becomes just I-96, while all of M-50 from there westerly through Grand Rapids, Standale, and Allendale to US-31 at Agnew is redesignated as M-45. The changes become official with all signage changes made on December 14.
  1966 – Although 95 percent of M-56 was decommissioned in 1957, the two-mile segment between US-25 and I-75 in Monroe was, for some reason, retained. At this time, the M-56 designation is officially retired and M-50 is extended along that routing easterly from US-25 in downtown Monroe to end at I-75 at Exit 15.
  1966 (Nov 7) – A short section of the four-lane, one-way road carrying BL I-94/BUS US-127/M-50 through downtown Jackson is completed and opened to traffic as part of the overall trunkline reconfiguration in the city's central business district.
  1967BUS US-127/M-50 through Jackson is rerouted off Prospect Ave, 4th St, High St, and S West Ave to, instead, run via Airline Hwy then westerly concurrently with BL I-94 back to West Ave. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1996 (June 28) Updated 2024-02 – Noted as being "a factor in the long-range Monroe area trunkline study for many years," the 2.5-mile portion of M-50 in Monroe from downtown easterly to the route's eastern terminus at I-75/Seaway Frwy is cancelled as a state trunkline route and transferred to local control. In terms of the timing, MDOT notes, "The accelerated schedule is due to the wishes of both the city and county to take ownership control prior to the two-year construction of I-75 in northern Ohio." The 2.20-mile segment of M-50 from M-125/Monroe St southeasterly to Dixie Hwy, then northeasterly along Dixie Hwy to the east city limit is transfered to city control, while the remaining 0.30-mile segment from the east city limit through the I-75/Seaway Frwy interchange is turned over to county control. Interestingly, this truncation of M-50 returns it to the eastern terminus it had from 1915–1966.
  2006 (Oct 4) – An additional 1.17 miles on the eastern end of M-50 is cancelled and turned back to city control in Monroe between M-125/Monroe Ave and US-24/Telegraph Rd west of downtown. M-50's new eastern terminus is now at US-24/Telegraph Rd.
  2018 (Feb 6–Mar 26) New! 2023-11 – After being under construction for the majority of 2017, the reconfiguration of Jackson's "downtown trunkline loop" from a system of one-way thoroughfares back into two-way streets is completed and the actual traffic changes occur on February 6. The former eastbound leg of BL I-94/BUS US-127/M-50 bypassing the central business district to the south is reconfigured as a two-way street with the trunkline designations removed. Complimenting this, the westbound trunkline traffic is transferred onto Louis Glick Hwy which is similarly reconfigured to handle two-way traffic. Now, BUS US-127/M-50 enters downtown Jackson along S Cooper St (Airline Hwy) and proceeds to E Michigan Ave–Louis Glick Hwy, then heads westerly bypassing downtown to the north concurrently with BL I-94 back to W Michigan Ave west of downtown where it continues via is existing route. The former eastbound side of the loop—now named Steward Ave between W Michigan Ave and First St, then as Washington Ave from First to Cooper—temporarily becomes an unsigned state trunkline, which is then cancelled and turned back to city control on March 26. The overall downtown trunkline loop conversion project, which has its roots back to February 2002 when the city recommended the changes, reverses some of the major changes made during the 1960s urban renewal efforts downtown.
Controlled Access: Two segments of M-50 exist as freeway:
  1. A very short segment concurrently with US-127 on the southeast side of Jackson. (0.4 mile)
  2. An approximately 1½-mile segment concurrently with US-127 north of Jackson. (1.6 miles)
NHS: Two segments of M-50 are on the National Highway System (NHS):
  1. From the southern jct with US-127 southeast of Jackson to the northern jct with US-127 north of Jackson. (8.5 miles)
  2. In the City of Charlotte from I-69 at Exit 60 to the northern jct with BL I-69 downtown. (1.7 miles) (This segment was added in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Memorial Highways:  The following Memorial Highway designations have been officially assigned to parts of M-50 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Officer James Bonneau Memorial Bridge – "The bridge on West Avenue in Jackson County between Ganson Street and Wildwood Avenue..." From MDOT: "Police Officer James Bonneau was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance. Officer Bonneau and an officer from the Blackman Township Department of Public Safety were following up on a report from earlier in the night of a domestic incident. When they arrived, the suspect opened fire, killing Officer Bonneau and wounding the Blackman Township officer. The suspect was shot and killed by the officers. Officer Bonneau had served with the Jackson Police Department for two years. He is survived by his fiancée, parents, sister, and brother."
  • Ensign Francis Flaherty Memorial Highway – "The portion of highway M-50 in Eaton County beginning at the intersection of highway M-50 and highway I-69 and extending west to the intersection of highway M-50 and Courthouse Drive..."
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