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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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Historic US-112
M-112 Route MarkerWillow Run ExpresswayDetroit Industrial Expresway On to Next Route:
M-112 is a former state trunkline route existing from October 17, 1941 until November 1, 1956.
Western Terminus*:    BYP US-112/M-17 at the west triple-deck interchange on the Willow Run Expwy system east of Ypslianti in eastern Washtenaw Co. (present-day interchange of US-12 & Wiard Rd)
Eastern Terminus*:    US-112/Michigan Ave at the western end of the Edsel Ford (formerly Detroit Crosstown) Expwy on the western limits of the City of Detroit in Wayne Co.
Final Length*: 25.2 miles
Maps: Route Map of Former M-112
Notes: * The termini and final length for M-112 reflect the beginning and ending of the route and its length as of the time of its decommissioning in November 1956.
  M-112 was the route designation applied to the majority of the Willow Run Expressway System and the Detroit Industrial Expressway from the completion of each of those highways in the 1940s until the US-12 designation supplanted it in 1956. The Willow Run and Detroit Industrial Expwys were constructed primarily as conduit routes to connect the Willow Run Bomber Plant east of Ypsilanti with the labor pools in the metro Detroit region as the nation prepared for and eventually entered World War II. These two highways were rather unique in that they were both constructed during the war at a time when most highway construction, especially that deemed not crucial to support the wartime effort, was completely curtailed. Indeed, while maintenance on some highways was minimal to non-existant, the construction of a massive 25-mile long four-lane expressway and freeway is quite notable. M-112 as a route designation existed from the opening of the earliest segment of the Willow Run Expwy in 1941 through the entire construction of the Detroit Industrial Expwy (1942–1944) until it was supplanted by the US-12 designation in 1956.
  All of the former M-112 was eventually incorporated into the route of I-94 beginning in the fall of 1959 (3½ years after the decommissioning of M-112), even as the entirety of the original Willow Run Expwy had not yet been converted to full freeway standards between Ypsilanti and Romulus. The last at-grade intersection on I-94 on the Willow Run Expwy portion was only eliminated in 1965! (The original Willow Run Expwy between Wiard Rd and Northline Rd would be completely reconstructed to modern standards as a six-lane freeway in 1972–74.) In 1958, a "bypass" of the original segment of the Willow Run Expwy east of Ypsilanti between present-day Exits 185–186 was built which later became part of I-94. Today, the only portion of former M-112 that is not part of present-day I-94 is the Wiard Rd segment of the original Willow Run Expwy between US-12 and I-94 at Exit 186.
  It is no coincidence that M-112 and US-112 existed in roughly the same area as each other. For the first forty or so years of the existence of the Michigan State Trunkline Highway system, the State Highway Dept designated several such related route pairings. US-24 and M-24 met for many years at Pontiac as did US-25 and M-25 in Port Austin. Similarly M-131 picked up where US-131 left off, first at Fife Lake and then at Petoskey for several decades. US-10 and M-10 also co-existed at Flint for some time. Why transportation planners didn't just designate the Willow Run and Detroit Industrial Expwys as BYP US-112 or as ALT US-112—or, alternatively, run the mainline US-112 designation along the new freeways and redesignate existing US-112 along Michigan Ave as BUS US-112 or assign some other designation— is not clear. However, the route designation for M-112 was a very deliberate choice, for the 15 years it was in existence.
History: Willow Run Expressway1941 (Oct 1) – Even though the U.S. was not officially at war—the Attack on Pearl Harbor wouldn't occur for more than two months—a massive bomber plant is constructed at Willow Run, straddling the Washtenaw/Wayne Co line east of Ypsilanti. With the primary supply of labor for the bomber plant living 15–20 miles to the east in the Detroit area, getting workers to the new plant quickly becomes a major headache. (Many workers were unwilling or unable to live in temporary housing constructed at Willow Run during the week, commuting home to Detroit on the weekends. Worker turnover became a problem early on.) Roads and highways connecting Detroit with Willow Run were narrow and not built to handle the amount of traffic they received almost overnight. To get the bomber plant workers to their jobs and allow them to return home each night, the Michigan State Highway Dept, the U.S. War Department and Ford Motor Company—the company that constructed and operated the plant on behalf of the federal government—decide to construct a system of ultra-modern access highways encircling the Willow Run facility and reaching toward Detroit. Work begins on the Willow Run Expressway System on Oct 1. A ceremonial kick-off to start the work on the Willow Run Expressway was held on Sept 10.
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1941 (Oct 17) – As work on the Willow Run Expressway System gets underway, the State Highway Dept also begins planning on a new superhighway to connect the Willow Run area with Detroit via what is called the "Detroit Industrial Area," to the south of US-112/Michigan Ave. The first 5.5 mile segment of the planned Detroit Industrial Expressway from US-112/Michigan Ave at Wyoming Ave on the Detroit/Dearborn boundary westerly to Southfield Rd is established as a state trunkline highway route and will feature the designation M-112.
  1942 (Jan 28) – Two segments of proposed M-112 directly contiguous to each other but parts of different projects are officially assumed into the state trunkline highway system:
  • M-112A 3.7-mile long segment of the Willow Run Expwy in Van Buren and Romulus Twps in Wayne Co from M-56/Belleville Rd just north of Belleville easterly along the Chase Rd corridor to Hannan Rd, then southeasterly to M-56/Northline Rd 1/3-mile east of Huron River Dr.
  • M-112A 10.5-mile segment of the Detroit Industrial Expwy is also established beginning at the Willow Run Expwy at Hannan Rd on the Van Buren/Romulus Twp line in Wayne Co and continuing northeasterly to the north of the Wabash RR line to Southfield Rd, linking the Willow Run Expwy with the 5.5 mile segment of the Detroit Industrial Expwy established the previous October. Segments of this stretch of highway will open later in the year and in the early portion of 1942.
  Detroit Industrial Expressway1942 (June 17) – The U.S. War Department officially authorizes construction of the Detroit Industrial Expwy under the provisions of the Defense Highway Act of 1941. Part of the freeway is already constructed, which illustrates the speed at which improvements were being implemented during wartime.
  Willow Run Expressway1942 (July 1) – The first mile of the Willow Run Expwy is completed and opened to traffic. (The exact limits of this segment are not clear, as information relating to military production efforts is considered sensitive and is often generalized, if not censored altogether. As construction of the Willow Run and Detroit Industrial Expwys are directly related to the Willow Run bomber plant, detailed information on those highways is sometimes difficult to come by.) As the portion of the Willow Run Expwy along Chase Rd through Van Buren Twp in Wayne Co was likely some of the easiest and quickest to construct, it may have been in that area the first mile opened to traffic.
  M-1121942 (Aug 17) – A 6.1-mile long westerly extension of the Willow Run Expressway System from M-17/Ecorse Rd (at the west end of the expressway complex being constructed around the Wilow Run bomber plant) past the south side of Ypsilanti to a jct with US-112/Michigan Ave southwest of Ypsilanti and then further to a ⊤-intersection with US-23/Carpenter Rd southeast of Ann Arbor is officially assumed into the state trunkline highway system, to be designated as a realigned M-17 and BYP US-112, a new route designation, when opened to traffic.
  Willow Run ExpresswayM-112M-171942 (Sept 12–22) – On Sept 12, the east tri-level ("triple decker") interchange on the Willow Run Expwy is dedicated and opened to traffic. This interchange allows traffic from the new BYP US-112 (later US-112, now US-12) section of the Willow Run Expwy to directly access the Willow Run bomber plant from the north. Then on Sept 22, news accounts report the entire Willow Run Expressway System is "put into service," implying the entire expressway along Chase Rd from Hannan Rd westerly to Wiard Rd, northerly along Wiard Rd from Chase Rd to M-17/Ecorse Rd, then easterly along M-17/Ecorse Rd to M-56/Belleville Rd, with extensions to the northeast connecting with US-112/Michigan Ave and to the west connecting with M-17/Ecorse Rd heading into Ypsilanti. The new expressway features interchanges at (from east-to-west) at:
  • Tyler Rd (entrance only from wbd Tyler Rd to nbd and sbd M-112/Willow Run Expwy)
  • Airport Rd (exit only from nbd and sbd M-112/Willow Run Expwy to ebd Airport Rd)
  • West tri-level interchange (jct M-112 & M-17)
  • East tri-level interchange (north entrance into Willow Run bomber plant)
  • Jct M-17/Ecorse Rd & Future US-112 BYP (present-day US-12)
At-grade intersections along M-112 portion:
  • Hannan Rd
  • M-56 SOUTH/Haggerty Hwy SOUTH
  • Haggerty Hwy NORTH
  • Morton–Taylor Rd
  • M-56 NORTH/Belleville Rd
  • Quirk Rd
  • Beck Rd
  • Beckly Rd
  • Denton Rd NORTH
  • Rawsonville Rd
  • various residential roads south off Chase Rd between Rawsonville and Wiard Rds
  • Chase Rd WEST
  • Wiard Rd SOUTH
At-grade intersections along M-17 portion:
  • Denton Rd NORTH
  • Beck Rd
  • M-56/Belleville Rd
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1942 (Nov 23) – The first segment of the M-112/Detroit Industrial Expressway is completed and opened to traffic from the eastern end of the Willow Run Expwy at Hannan Rd west of Romulus then east-northeasterly to Middle Belt Rd. The Detroit Industrial Expwy, unlike the Willow Run Expwy to the west, is being constructed to full freeway standards with no intersecting crossroads and interchanges at Wayne Rd (wbd exit, ebd entry) and Middle Belt Rd. An interchange with ramps leading to M-56 at North Line Rd and Huron River Dr west of Romulus is still under construction.
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1943 (Feb 2) – The next segment of the M-112/Detroit Industrial Expwy is opened to traffic from Middle Belt Rd easterly to Southfield Rd, although with two-way traffic using the wbd lanes of the freeway from Inkster Rd eaterly as completion of the ebd lanes is delayed due to winter weather shutting down concrete pouring operations. Access is only via interchanges at M-17/Ecorse Rd (wbd exit to and entry from wbd Ecorse, ebd exit to and entry from ebd Ecorse only), US-24/Telegraph Rd (wbd exit to and entry from sbd Telegraph, ebd exit to and entry from nbd Telegraph only), and at Southfield Rd.
  M-112Willow Run Expressway1943 (Feb 26) – The first 5.8 mile segment of the M-112/Willow Run Expwy from the west tri-level interchange southerly along Wiard Rd then easterly along Chase Rd to M-56/Belleville Rd is officially established as a state trunkline highway route, approximately five months after opening to traffic.
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1943 (Spring) – The ebd lanes of the M-112/Detroit Industrial Expwy from Inkster Rd easterly to Southfield Rd are completed and opened to traffic. Two lanes of ebd traffic are now using their own lanes while wbd traffic can now utilize both lanes on the other side of the freeway.
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1943 (Dec 8) – An additional 3¼ miles of the M-112/Detroit Industrial Expwy are completd and opened to traffic from Southfield Rd in Allen Park northeasterly to Greenfield Rd in southern Dearborn. Both east- and westbound lanes of the freeway are opened simultaneously. The final 2¼ miles of the freeway east of this point are under construction and the State Highway Dept announces the War Production Board has granted an extension of the permit to complete the freeway, originally to have expired on December 31, 1943, to June 30, 1944. Material and labor shortages have prevented the Dept from completing the freeway in the original timeframe.
  M-112Detroit Industrial Expressway1944 (July 1) – The last 2¼ miles of the M-112/Detroit Industrial Expwy are completed and opened to traffic from Greenfield Rd in Dearborn northeasterly to US-112/Michigan Ave at Wyoming Ave on the Dearborn/Detroit city limit. Not only does this mark the completion of the Detroit Industrial Expwy, but also represents the maximum extent of M-112 as well.
  M-112Willow Run ExpresswayDetroit Industrial Expressway1945 (Mar 9, 10:00 am) – A "formal opening" ceremony is held for the $26-million Willow Run/Detroit Industrial Expressway system at the US-112/Michigan Ave & Wyoming Ave interchange on the Detroit/Dearborn boundary, attended by Governor Frank Kelly, State Highway Commissioner Charles M Ziegler and Henry Ford II, Executive Vice President of Ford Motor Co. Ford Motor Co had donated quite a bit of the right-of-way for the overall project, both in the area around the Willow Run bomber plant near Ypsilanti as well as in Dearborn past the Ford Rouge Assembly Plant and other company offices.
  1945 (Aug 2) – Plans for an eventual Detroit–Chicago Expressway linking the two cities are announced in Detroit at a conference of highway officials and civic leaders put on by the Detroit and Chicago auto clubs. While no specific route for the future highway has been determined, but Charles T. Bush, Chicago-Detroit Expressway Commission chair, notes it should cut travel time between the cities by two hours, from seven to five.
  US-121956 (Nov 1) – The State Highway Dept makes several major route designation changes in the metropolitan Detroit/Ann Arbor area involving the Willow Run, Detroit Industrial and Edsel Ford Expressways. US-12, which had an eastern terminus at US-16 at the cnr of Plymouth Rd & Grand River Ave on Detroit's westside since it was first designated in 1926, then later concurrently designated with US-16 along Grand River from Plymouth Rd southeasterly into downtown Detroit, is relocated from the Plymouth Rd alignment between Ann Arbor and Detroit and transferred to a new southerly route. Beginning at the western end of the "Ann Arbor Southbelt," US-12 now runs southeasterly and easterly around Ann Arbor to US-23/Carpenter Rd, then continues easterly supplanting the M-17 designation along the Ypsilanti bypass to US-112/Michigan Ave. From there, the BYP US-112 designation on the Ypsilanti bypass is replaced by the mainline US-112 designation and concurrently designated with US-12. (M-17 is removed from the bypass routing and replaces the BUS M-17 route through downtown Ypsilanti while US-112 through the city is redesignated as BUS US-112.) US-12/US-112 continues easterly onto the Willow Run Expwy to the west tri-level interchange where US-112 continues northeasterly via the former BYP US-112 back to Michigan Ave east of Ypsilanti while US-12 turns southerly along the Wiard Rd alignment of the Willow Run Expwy supplanting the M-112 designation before turning easterly again along the Chase Rd alignment of the Willow Run, heading into Wayne Co. US-12 continues easterly replacing M-112 in its entirety along the Willow Run and Detroit Industrial Expwys to US-112/Michigan Ave on the western limits of Detroit. There, the US-12 designation now travels along the Edsel Ford Expwy from its beginning easterly to, according to news reports, a new terminus at US-10/Woodward Ave north of downtown Detroit, after passing under its former alignment along US-16/Grand River Ave along the way. Thus, the M-112 designation is officially decommissioned and has not been used since on any state trunkline highway in Michigan.
Controlled Access: Detroit Industrial ExpresswayFreeway: The entirety of the Detroit Industrial Expressway from the Romulus area easterly to the western Detroit city limit at Michigan Ave was constructed as a fully-controlled access freeway from the start.
  Willow Run ExpresswayExpressway: The Willow Run Expressway System between Ypsilanti and the Romulus area was constructed quickly and while it contained some freeway-style interchanges, it also had several crossroad intersections as well. As such, the Willow Run Expwy was truly an "expressway" in the technical defintion of the term. All of M-112 from the Northline Rd interchange on the Romulus Twp/Van Buren Twp border westerly to its terminus at BYP US-112/M-17 was built to expressway standards.
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