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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-85 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Terminus:    I-75/Detroit-Toledo Frwy at Exit 28 in the Flat Rock/Gibraltar area
Northern Terminus:    Downtown Detroit at the cnr of Fort St & Griswold St, one block west of Woodward Ave
Length: 21.907 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-85
Notes: M-85 is known as either Fort St or Fort Rd for its entire length.
  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 the following two changes to the route of M-85 during that timeframe:
  • Converting the existing (then four-year-old) route of M-85 along Fort Rd from I-75 north of Rockwood northeasterly to King Rd on the Trenton/Riverwood city limit to a full freeway with interchanges at Gibraltar Rd, Vreeland Rd, Van Horn Rd, West Rd and King Rd, where M-85 would transition back to a uncontrolled-access divided highway. No part of this proposal was ever acted upon.
  • Truncating the route of M-85 back from its northern end to a new terminus at M-39/Southfield Rd in Lincoln Park. This proposal, too, never came to fruition.
History: 1919 (Aug 27) – A 10.0-mile long state trunkline highway route connecting M-66 (present-day M-91) south of Langston in Montcalm Co with Stanton, the county seat, is officially established. Beginning at M-66/Greenville Rd, M-85 continues easterly for 2½ miles, northerly for ½ mile along Lake Rd, then easterly for 7 miles along Stanton Rd through downtown Stanton to an eastern terminus at E Main St & S State St.
  1923 (July 6) – Sheridan Rd from the eastern terminus of M-85 in Stanton southerly through Sheridan to Ionia Co and Stanton Rd from M-85 easterly from Stanton to Gratiot Co is officially established as part of M-43. M-85 then transitions from a spur trunkline route serving Stanton from M-66 (present M-91) to a "bridge" route connecting M-66 and M-43.
  1928 (June 28) – The 8.0 miles of Sheridan Rd (N State St in Stanton) from M-85/W Main St in Stanton in Montcalm Co northerly to M-46/Howard City–Edmore Rd west of Edmore is officially established as a state trunkline highway route and given the designation of M-85. This creates a route oddity through downtown Stanton, however. Now, M-85 enters Stanton from the west via Stanton Rd (W Main St) and turns northerly to follow N State St and Sheridan Rd out of town toward Edmore. Meanwhile, M-43 enters Stanton from the south along Sheridan Rd (S Main St) then turns easterly along Stanton Rd (E Main St) heading toward Ithaca. Because Stanton is situated on one of Michigan's Correction Lines, N State St (Sheridan Rd north of Stanton) and S State St (Sheridan Rd south of town) are separated by ½ mile. Thus, the ½ mile of Main St between N State St (now M-85) and S State St (M-43), which remains a state trunkline route, seems to not be part of either M-85 or M-43! It is likely either signed as "TO M-85" (wbd) and "TO M-43" (ebd), or simply as part of a three-legged M-85 (wbd) and a three-legged M-43 (ebd).
  1930 (Dec 2) – By December 2, the entirety of M-85 is replaced by the M-57 designation, which now traverses the former M-43 from Saint Charles westerly through Ithaca to Stanton, then continuing via the former M-85 to M-66 south of Langston. This marks the end of the first iteraiton of M-85, however the second interation would debut almost immediately.
      By 1930, the route of M-36 begins at M-21 near Attica in Lapeer Co, continues northerly through North Branch to M-38 near Clifford. On December 2, a brand-new state trunkline highway route is officially established running northerly from Lapeer to Mayville then on to M-81 in Caro and designated as M-36, with the existing M-36 through North Branch being turned back to local control. MSHD sources show the Lapeer–Mayville–Caro trunkline was definitely to be designated as M-36, however an episode of trunkline route "musical chairs" results in the relocation of several route designations. The M-49 designation, formerly running from Whitmore Lake through Pinckney, Gregory, Stockbridge and Danville to Mason, is transferred onto a brand-new trunkline in Hillsdale Co. Because the M-24 designation is slated to be applied to the Pontiac–Lapeer–Bay City corridor and since the new M-36 alignment picks up at the northern end of the southern segment of M-24 at Lapeer, what was to become M-36 from Lapeer to Mayville is, instead, signed as part of M-24 (which then uses M-38 to Vassar and then continues northwesterly along present-day M-15 into Bay City), with M-36 being applied to the Whitmore Lake–to–Mason highway route. The remaining segment of state trunkline that was to have been signed as part of M-36—from M-38 at Mayville northerly to M-81 at Caro—is then given the M-85 designation instead.
  1941 (Mar 14) Updated 2023-08 – As the northernmost 34 miles of M-24—or 40% of the entire route mileage—are concurrently designated with other trunkline routes (M-38 from Mayville to Vassar and M-15 from Vassar to Bay City), the State Highway Dept decides to replace the entire M-85 designation from M-38 at Mayville northerly to M-81 in downtown Caro with a rerouted M-24. The change will take over a year to actually implement in the field, however.
  1942 (Apr 18) New! 2023-08 – Although announced over a year prior, State Highway Dept crews finish removing M-24 route markers from the routes of M-38 (Mayville–Vassar) and M-15 (Vassar–Bay City) and move them to replace M-85 route markers along the Mayville–Caro trunkline route. The second iteration of M-85 thus officially fades into history.
  1956 (Apr 5) – The 14.6 miles of Fort St/Fort Rd from US-25/M-17 at the cnr of Fort St & Oakwood Blvd in the southwestern most corner of Detroit southerly and southwesterly through the Downriver suburbs to the cnr of Fort Rd & Allen Rd between Gibraltar and Flat Rock is transferred from local to state control and officially established as a new trunkline with the designation of M-85. From Allen Rd, the new M-85 runs an additional 1.6 miles along a new alignment, parallel to Fort Rd, to a point where it merges with the proposed ALT US-24/Detroit-Toledo Expressway. As the ALT US-24/Detroit-Toledo Expwy is not yet complete from M-85 northerly through Woodhaven, the 1.6-mile segment of M-85 from its southern terminus to Allen Rd is temporarily signed as part of ALT US-24 until the freeway is completed and opened to traffic.
  1958 – By the end of 1958, six more miles of the US-24A/Detroit–Toledo Expwy are completed and opened to traffic in southern Wayne Co, beginning at M-85 (present-day Exit 28) just north of Rockwood and continuing northerly to Sibley Rd at the jct with US-25/Dix–Toledo Hwy. The former route along M-85 between the Detroit–Toledo Expwy and Allen Rd retains its M-85 designation.
  1967 (Feb 9) – The segment of US-25 in southern Wayne Co from I-75/Detroit–Toledo Expwy north of Woodhaven northerly via Dix–Toledo Hwy, Dix Hwy, Toledo Rd and Oakwood Blvd to M-85/Fort St is turned back to local control, with the US-25 designation transferred onto the I-75/Detroit–Toledo & Fisher Frwys, using M-85/Fort St between I-75 and Oakwood Blvd to rejoin its former alignment at the Rouge River bridge. At this point, the M-85 designation may have been scaled back from its former northern terminus at US-25/Oakwood Blvd to the new jct with US-25 at Schaefer Hwy.
  1967 (June 9) – On Dec 28, 1966, I-75 is extended northeasterly for 8 miles from the US-24/Telegraph Rd connector (present-day CONN US-24 at Exit 35) to Schaefer Hwy in southwest Detroit. Then on this date, a 0.23-mile segment of Schaefer Hwy in southwest Detroit from M-85/Fort St northwesterly under the I-75/Fisher Frwy to the north end of the interchange (present-day Exit 43) is assumed into the state trunkline system to provide a full trunkline-to-trunkline connection for M-85 to meet up with I-75 once the portion of US-25 (formerly M-85) from Schaefer Hwy to Fort St is transferred to local control in five years' time.
  2001 (Mar 15) – During a spate of jurisdictional transfers in the City of Detroit, which included several former state trunklines in the Campus Martius area of downtown being transferred back to City of Detroit control, M-3 is severed into two discontinuous portions. The two blocks of Cadillac Sq from Woodward Ave to Randolph St designated as part of M-3, as well as Fort St between Woodward and Griswold St, are transferred to the City of Detroit. (Please see the jurisdictional transfer maps linked under "Weblinks" below.) One of the issues this transfer creates is solved by redesignating M-3 via Fort St from Griswold St westerly to Clark St, then northerly on Clark St to I-75/Fisher Frwy as part of M-85. This is possible as MDOT also assumes control of Fort St from Clark St southwesterly to the former northern terminus of M-85. The one block stretch of former M-3 from Fort St to I-75 becomes an unsigned state trunkline connector.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-85 is freeway, but the segment of M-85 from its southern terminus at I-75 to Allen Rd near Gibraltar is an expressway.
NHS: The entire length of M-85, with the exception of the northernmost three blocks of the route along Fort St from Cass Ave to Shelby St, is on the National Highway System (NHS). (The portion of M-85 from M-10/John C Lodge Frwy to Cass Ave in downtown Detroit was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Circle Tour: Lake Erie Circle Tour MarkerLake Erie Circle Tour: From southern terminus of M-85 at I-75 (Exit 28) northeasterly and northerly to I-75 at Exit 43 in southwest Detroit.
Memorial Highway: The following Memorial Highway designation has been officially assigned to part of M-85 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Matt McNeely Boulevard – "The portion of highway M-85 located in the city of Detroit between Outer Drive and highway I-75 shall also be known as 'Matt McNeely Boulevard'." And, "Former Representative Matthew McNeely served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1964 to 1986. He represented the Third District of the State House, which encompassed a portion of the City of Detroit. During his tenure in the House, McNeely served 18 years as Speaker Pro-Tem, being the first African-American to do so, and four years as Associate Speaker. In addition to serving as an elected official, McNeely has volunteered to work for various nonprofit organizations, such as the Neighborhood Foundation, which works with the Detroit Public Schools on crime and drug prevention."
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