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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-68 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Western Terminus:    Alanson at US-31 (cnr Chicago St & Burr Ave)
Eastern Terminus:   Downtown Rogers City at BUS US-23 (cnr Erie St & Third St)
Length: 52.688 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-68
Notes: All of M-68 from the western jct of M-33 eastward to Rogers City was a part of US-23 in the late 1920s and 1930s.
  M-68 is the northernmost east-west state highway of any reasonable length in the Lower Peninsula. Technically, M-212—the three-quarters-mile long spur-route connecting M-33 with Aloha State Park—runs east-west and exists north of M-68.
  New! 2023-04 In October 1982, the Reflective Systems Unit of MDOT began reviewing the state trunkline sytem and "discovered a substantial number of dual and some triple routing on both the free access and limited access system." The result of which was forwarded to "the Trunkline Numbering Committee in an attempt to reduce as much of this unnecessary routing as possible in an attempt to avoid driver confusion and save funds." That December, the MDOT Transportation Planning unit proposed "M-68 Signing ending at US-31 east of Petoskey." In March 1983, the Supervising Engineer of the Reflective Safety Unit replied "The District Traffic and Safety Engineer, Fred Eggan, and we concur that M-68 should end at Alanson." The M-68 markers were removed from the concurrent segment with US-31 between Alanson and Petoskey soon after, bringing M-68's western terminus to its present location.
  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 a fewchanges to M-68 during that timeframe:
  • The planning maps proposed a US-31 freeway running well west of the current US-31 from Petoskey to the end of the current expressway at Carp Lake. As such, the planners showed M-68 continuing from its western terminus at Alanson southwesterly via the existing route of US-31 to Powers Rd, then westerly along Powers Rd to an interchange in the area of North Conway Rd. Obviously, since the US-31 freeway was never constructed, the M-68 westerly extension proposal was never enacted.
  • Completion of the more direct route of M-68 between Indian River and Afton, which was actually underway when the maps were made. The reroute was completed in 1961, although on the sightly offset path described in the History notes below.
  • Elmimate the three-mile north-south segment of M-68 in central Presque Isle Co north of Millersburg, replaced by a more direct angling alignment beginning at the 90° turn at Millersburg Rd & Tonkey Hwy and continuing northeasterly for five miles, merging back into the existing route of M-68 at Curtis Rd approximately seven miles west of US-23 at Rogers City. The existing route of M-68 between those points would have been transferred back to County control. This proposal never came to fruition.
History: 1914 (Mar 3) – A 27.4-mile state trunkline highway route is officially designated in Ontonagon Co beginning at the southern village limit of Ontonagon and continuing southeasterly to Rockland, then easterly and northeasterly through Mass City and continuing on, terminating at the Ontonagon/Houghton Co line where it meets a segment of T.L. 26 continuing northeasterly to Houghton that was designated a year prior. In an odd circumstance, however, the eastern portion of this 27.4-mile route is given the T.L. 26 designation, continuing over from the segment designated in Houghton Co in 1913, while the western portion from Rockland northwesterly to Ontonagon is given the trunkline designation of T.L. 68.
  1916 (May 26) – An additional 6.2-mile segment of state trunkline highway route is designated beginning at the west village limit of Ontonagon and continuing westerly just inland from the Lake Superior shoreline to a point one mile west of the community of Green (at present-day Bolo Rd). This creates a two-segment trunkline route for T.L. 68—one segment heading southeasterly from Ontonagon, the other heading west.
  1919 (July 1) – T.L. 68 is signed in the field as M-68 as all state trunkline highways in Michigan are signed with route markers. The gap in the officially established state trunkline route within the Village of Ontonagon consists of locally-controlled roadway segments and is still signed as part of the route of M-68. The through-town route of M-68 consists of, west-to-east: Lakeshore Rd, Ontonagon St, River St, Steel St, and Rockland Rd.
  1919 (July 18) – The 1916 segment of M-68, designated from Ontonagon westerly through Green, is cancelled as a state trunkline highway route, while simultaneously, that segment as well as an additional 2.75 miles of streets within the Village of Ontonagon, which are transferred to State control, are officially designated as part of M-68. The net change in the route of M-68 is only that the route connecting the two previously disconnected segments on either side of Ontonagon is now officially a state trunkline highway route.
  1921 (Jan 20) – The portion of M-68 within the limits of the Village of Ontonagon is officially cancelled as a state trunkline, but the exact same routing is then "re-established" (officially made part of the state trunkline system) with the exact same length (2.75 miles). It is assumed this is a internal housekeeping operation by the State Highway Dept, as nothing "on the ground" actually changes about the route.
  1927 (Feb 2) – An entirely new state trunkline highway route is officially assumed into the system beginning at Baraga in Baraga Co and continuing westerly to an intersection with M-26 at the small mining community of Lake Mine. The M-35 designation then continues southwesterly, concurrently with M-26, through Mass City. At Rockland, M-35 now turns northwesterly to supplant the M-68 designation into and through Ontonagon, then westerly to its terminus one mile west of the community of Green. Thus, the first iteration of M-68 comes to an end.
  1935 (Jan 7) – After a nearly eight year absence as a route designation, a second life for M-68 begins when a brand new 9.2-mile state trunkline route is assumed in to the system connecting US-31 in downtown Alanson with US-27 just south of Indian River, running along the south side of Burt Lake. It is given the designation of M-68.
  1940 (Nov 12) – M-68 becomes a discontinuous highway when a second segment is designated via a portion of the former US-23 in Cheboygan and Presque Isle Cos. (US-23 is now complete along its shoreline routing between Rogers City and Cheboygan.) The new eastern segment of M-68 begins at a 90° turn in M-33 approximately 2½ miles east of Afton in central Cheboygan Co, heads easterly concurrently with M-33 to Onaway, then continues easterly on its own via the former route of US-23 to Rogers City, where the route crosses US-23 and ends in downtown at M-65 (present-day BUS US-23).
  1940 (Nov 12) – Simultaneous to its designation concurrently with M-33 from The Fingerboard Corner in central Cheboygan Co easterly through Tower to Onaway, a new 0.8-mile segment of trunkline is officially established, cutting off two 90° turns in the route of M-33/M-68 beginning at Brady Rd and continuing westerly to Milligan Creek. The former route south of the new trunkline routing is transferred to County control as "Old 68" while the portion to the north of the new highway is obliterated as a public roadway.
  1945 (June 26) – The gap between the two disconnected segments of M-68 is bridged when a 9.2-mile long segment of state trunkline route is established between the west jct of M-33 at The Fingerboard Corner (2½ miles east of Afton) in central Cheboygan Co and jct US-27 & M-68 south of Indian River. However, only the first four miles from M-33 westerly through Afton run along an existing roadway upgraded to state trunkline. From approximately 1¾ miles west of Afton, M-68 is temporarily routed northwesterly and westerly via Onaway Rd into Indian River where it turns southerly via Club Rd parallel to the Pennsylvania RR tracks, then west one block on Martha St to US-27/Straits Hwy. The Onaway Rd/Club Rd/Martha St route is only a "Marked & Maintained" segment—not actually transferred to State jurisdiction, but signed as part of M-68 and maintained by the State Highway Dept temporarily until the remainder of the officially-designated route is constructed and opened to traffic. US-27 between Martha St in Indian River and the existing jct with M-68 south of town is now concurrently designated with M-68.
  1955 (Nov 18) – A short, 0.9-mile long realignment results in a slight adjustment to the route of M-68 in western Presque Isle Co. From just east of Porter Rd approximately three miles east of Onaway, 0.9 miles of M-68 from that point westerly toward Onaway is cancelled as a state trunkline highway route, replaced by 0.902 miles of new trunkline on a slightly different alignment. The former alignment is obliterated as a public roadway.
  1956 (Aug 17) / 1957 (June 24) – Just north of Millersburg in Presque Isle Co, a new sweeping curve is assumed into the state trunkline highway system, departing Tonkey Hwy west of Millersburg Rd and merging back into the existing route at Millersburg Rd north of Tonkey Hwy. The former route is turned back to County control. The dates of jurisdictional transfer are somewhat in conflict—State Highway Dept "Trunkline Determination Maps" show the transfer as being conducted in 1957, while the current MDOT Right-of-Way Maps show a transfer date as nearly a year earlier in 1956. The road seems to have been complete and opened to traffic during 1956.
  1957 (June 24) – The route of M-68 as it enters Rogers City from the west is altered when a new 1.48-mile long segment of highway is assumed into the state trunkline system. Beginning along Airport Hwy approximately 0.8-mile east of Klee Rd, the new M-68 alignment curves to the northeast, intersecting US-23 and then the existing route of M-68 at Wenonah Dr. The 2.0mile former route—easterly via Airport Rd, then northerly via Wenonah St/Dr to Erie St—is turned back to local control.
  1960 (Aug 19) – A 90° turn in the route of M-68 near Ocqueoc Falls in central Presque Isle Co is bypassed when a new1.369-mile segment of state trunkline highway is established beginning at Loomis Hwy three miles north of Millersburg then curving northeasterly before merging back into the exisiting highway approximately 0.3 mile east of Lincoln Rd. The former 1.7 mile route of M-68 along River Rd northerly to Ocqueoc Falls Hwy and along Ocqueoc Falls Hwy from RIver Rd easterly is turned back to County control.
  1961 (week of Oct 15) – Approximately 15 years after the Indian River-to-M-33 segment of M-68 created one continuous route, the last unconstructed portion of the "official" alignment is completed and opened to traffic, albeit on a slightly modified path. Originally proposed to connect directly to the US-27 & M-68 jct south of Burt Lake State Park, the new M-68 alignment approaching Indian River from the east bends farther to the north, likely to accommodate the location for the interchange with the I-75 freeway, which is currently under construction. The newly-completed segment of M-68 meets US-27/Straits Hwy approximately 0.9 mile north of the existing M-68 jct. The existing US-27/M-68 concurrency remains, although it is scaled back by 0.4 mile as the "temporary" route met US-27/Straits Hwy to the north of the new jct. The former route between Indian River and west of Afton along Onaway Rd, Club Rd and Martha St was a "Marked & Maintained" route still technically a county road, only signed as M-68 and maintained by the State Highway Dept. As such, the former route remains a county roadway, but all M-68 markers are removed and state maintenance ceases. Construction of the new highway alignment cost $648,086 and also includes modernizing the 2½ miles of M-68 from Afton easterly to M-33 as well.
      Additionally, the final gravel-surfaced segment of M-68 along Onaway Rd is bypassed with the completion of the 1961 relocation—which is now entirely paved.
  1963 (Apr 22) New! 2024-02 – A compromise between the State Highway Dept and several northwestern Lower Michigan communities (and their chambers of commerce) results in the addition of those communities on I-75 freeway guide signs amd the extension of two state highway routes: M-32 from East Jordan to Charlevoix (concurrently with M-66) and M-68 from Alanson to Petoskey (concurrently with US-31). Previously, Petoskey, Charlevoix, East Jordan and Cross Village did not appear on any exit signage along the new I-75 freeway heading up the middle of the state, thus depriving those resort communities of recognition along the new major thoroughfare, as far as the communities and chambers are concerned. The reasoning cited by the department is "federal regulations on federal highways" require any town displayed on a freeway exit sign to be on the route also shown on that sign, as well as a federal limit on the number of desitnations which can be included on freeway exit signs. To remedy the situation and not be in violation of the regulations, the State Highway Dept decides to extend those routes intersecting I-75 to new termini in the named cities, even though that results in two concurrencies (M-66/M-32 and US-31/M-68) and one triple-concurrency (US-31/M-68/M-131) in the process. Ironically, this move now makes M-32 and M-68 technically "trans-peninsular" highways (similar to other routes to the south, such as M-72, M-55 and M-46), although somewhat shorter in length, due to the taper of the shape of the mitten as you proceed to the north.
  1982 (Oct)—1983 (Mar) New! 2023-04 – In October 1982, some MDOT staffers internally propose terminating M-68 at its jct with US-31 at Alanson and removing the concurrent designation with US-31 between Alanson and Petoskey. By March 1983, others within the department concurr with the propsal and M-68 is set to be scaled back to begin in Alanson. (See Notes section above for details.)
  1983 Updated 2024-02 – The route of M-68 is shortened when the concurrent M-68 designation is removed from US-31 from Petoskey to Alanson to its present western terminus. M-68 had been extended westerly via US-31 from Alanson to M-131 (now M-119) where M-131 (later M-119) joined both US-31 & M-68 through Petoskey in 1963, to a joint terminus at the cnr of Charlevoix Ave & Spring St, also the northern terminus of US-131. The reason for the concurrency was a campaign by several northwest Michigan towns to have their communities listed on I-75 freeway exit signs and the only way for that to happen, according to the State Highway Dept at the time, was to extend those routes to those cities, resulting in the concurrent designations.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-68 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-68 is on the National Highway System.
Memorial Highway: At present, no portion of M-68 has been designated as part of a Memorial Highway.
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