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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-125 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Former M-126
Southern Terminus:    Ohio state line, five south of Erie
Northern Terminus:    US-24/Telegraph Rd, five miles north of Monroe
Length: Updated19.480 miles
Maps: New! Route Map of M-125
Notes: Updated M-125 is designated as such since the highway traverses a portion of the former US-25 in Michigan. This highway essentially runs parallel to, and within approximately 1,200–5,000 feet of, US-24 for its entire length. Additionally, US-24/Telegraph Rd, M-125/Dixie Hwy and I-75/Detroit–Toledo Expwy all run in a corridor where the maximum distance between the farthest of the three routes is never more than 2.6 miles. As such, according to internal MDOT sources, M-125 has long been a "turnback candidate" whereby MDOT would prefer to transfer the road to the local authorities and the route would no longer be designated M-125. As the Monroe Co Road Commission has yet to accept jurisdiction over the former route of US-223 running through Ottawa Lake in the southwest corner of the county, which has been unsigned and a jurisdictional transfer candidate since 1977, it is unlikely the County or City of Monroe will be willing recipients of M-125 at any point in the near future.
  The portion of M-125 through downtown Monroe was designated as one of Michigan's first Historic Heritage Routes. From MDOT: "The City of Monroe in conjunction with MDOT nominated the portion of M-125 which runs through the Old Village Historic District, and is contiguous to the East Elm - North Macomb Historic District, and the Custer Equestrian Monument."
  New! There have been three separate iterations, or versions, of M-125 in existence since 1931, all very different types of highways, each in very different parts of the state. They include:
  • First Iteration, 1931–1936: The first M-125 was a short, 1½-mile long spur route in southwest Schoolcraft Co. It connected US-2 (present-day Co Rd 442) at the southern tip of Indian Lake west of Manistique with the Thompson State Fish Hatchery, which opened in 1922. For five years the first M-125 served its purpose until US-2 was relocated on a more southerly alignment running west of Manistique through the hamlet of Thompson. It was at this point that the original M-125 was to be extended southerly by 1.35 miles to meet the new US-2 route at Thompson, however it instead became a southerly extension of the existing M-149 route which formerly only ran northerly from US-2 (present-day Co Rd 442) to serve Palms Book State Park. The M-125 designation would only go unused for two years however.
  • Second Iteration, 1938–1957: The second iteration was a more bizzare one for M-125. While it would occupy the same, three-mile long spur route from US-23 (present-day M-13) south of Linwood in Bay Co and run westerly to a terminus essentially in the "middle-of-nowhere," its original purpose seemed to be twofold: First, M-125 along Parish Rd between US-23 and Seven Mile Rd was designated as part of a project to upgrade the formerly county-maintained roadway to a higher standard as part of the State Highway Dept's "farm-to-market" road improvement program. Parish Rd residents had been agitating for some time for improvements to be made to the road, although the State Highway Dept had larger plans for route. Although only the three miles from US-23 to Seven Mile Rd was the only portion ever officially determined as the trunkline route, M-125 was initially planned to continue to the west through the small hamlet of Beaver and include the construction of a new-terrain roadway between Eight Mile and Nine Mile Rds—something which never occurred, likely due to the onset of World War II. Additionally, media reports in 1935 noted the route was to possibly become part of a new "cut-off route to Houghton Lake" via the communities of Beaver, Larkin, Beaverton and Gladwin. Whether this "M-125 cut-off route" was to be constructed as a new-terrain diagonal route or to run, in a stair-step fashion, along existing County roadways is not clear, as no map of such a proposed "cut-off route" has ever been located. In the end, after improving the road, the State Highway Dept maintained it for 19 years as a spur route to "nowhere" before finally cancelling it and turning it back to local control.
  • Third Iteration, 1974–Present: The longest-lasting iteration of M-125, existing for decades longer than either of the previous two, is the current one, running along Dixie Hwy in Monroe Co (Monroe St within the City of Monroe.) Numbered as such due to its former existence as part of the route of US-25 within Michigan, which was decommissioned in 1973 with all route markers finally removed in the winter of 1974, the current M-125 is an oddity in that it has been on MDOT's list of routes to be jurisdictionally transferred for decades as well. Interestingly, the Association of American State Highway Officials (AASHO, or today's AASHTO) approved the State moving the US-25 designation from the current route of M-125 over onto Telegraph Rd to run concurrently with US-24 prior to its decommissioning and the creation of the M-125 designation we have today. While it's unclear why this change never happened, it's clear the State has been desirious of ridding itself of the Dixie Hwy/Monroe St trunkline route for quite some time—even long than its been designated as M-125!
  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, there was no recommendation from MSHD staff for the route of M-125—as in 1960, there was no M-125! The previous iteration of the route in Bay Co had been turned back to county control in 1957 and the current iteration would not exist for another 13 years!
History: 1931 (June 19, Aug 31) Updated – On June 19, the State Administrative Board approves a new short spur highway from US-2 west of Manistique to serve the new Thompson State Fish Hatchery as part of 30 additional miles of roadway approved to be added to the trunkline sytem. (At this time, US-2 runs along present-day Co Rd 442 west of Manistique via Cooks instead of the present-day shoreline routing—see map at right.) Then 10½ weeks later on August 31, a new 1.5-mile long spur route, designated M-125, is determined as a state trunkline highway five miles west of Manistique, beginning at US-2 at the southern tip of Indian Lake and continuing southerly to the Thompson State Fish Hatchery just north of the hamlet of Thompson.
  1936 (early July) Updated A new relocation for US-2 from southwest of Cooks easterly through Thompson and into Manistique is completed and opened to traffic, running along the Lake Michigan shore between Thompson and Manistique, although the former route (along present-day Co Rd 442) is not yet cancelled as a state trunkline route. Until now, M-149 existed solely as a spur route leading northerly from the former US-2 along the west shore of Indian Lake to Palms Book State Park. With the completion of the relocation for US-2, the existing 1.5 mile route of M-125 from the former US-2 southerly to the Thompson State Fish Hatchery is redesignated as part of M-149—with the segment of the former US-2 between the two M-149 junctions becoming signed as part of the new, extended M-149 route—while the 1.35-mile long county roadway from the southern end of M-125 at the fish hatchery southerly to a jct with relocated US-2 in "downtown" Thompson is now "marked-and-maintained" as part of M-149, although a formal determination for that portion of the route has not yet happened. This marks the end to the first iteration of M-125 after only five years of existence.
Backtracking a bit
for a moment...
1931 (Nov 11) New! – The State Administrative Board approves adding the three miles of Parish Rd in Bay Co from US-23 (present-day M-13) westerly as a state trunkline highway on the same day it approves 39 other state trunkline changes, most of them the elimination of many of the short (1–3 mile long) spur routes leading into small hamlets and communities from nearly state trunkline routes across the state. Ironic that on the day so many seemlingly superfluous routes are okayed for deletion that a three-mile long spur route from "nowhere" to "three miles west of nowhere" is added, although some media reports state Parrish Rd is desitined to become the first segment of a much longer "Houghton Lake cut-off route" from the Bay CIty area northwesterly through Gladwin Co on its way to its namesake lake.
  M-125 map, 19421938 (Dec 6) Updated – Parish Rd from US-23 (present-day M-13) to Seven Mile Rd in central Bay Co is assumed into the state trunkline system at a length of 3.0 miles and is designated the second interation of M-125. Other than ititial improvement work during the latter part of this year to bring the roadway up to modern standards, nothing else is done to the short spur route at this point. An additional 2¼ miles of additional trunkline route to the west along the line of Parish Rd through the nearby hamlet of Beaver are proposed as part of this trunkline route, but never officially determined and M-125's western terminus remains at Seven Mile Rd.
  1945 (late June) Updated – The entirety of M-125—three miles total—is hard-surfaced as one of five "bituminous non-skid surface treatment projects" in Bay and Tuscola Cos during late June. Previously, M-125 had been gravel-surfaced throughout.
  1956 (June 13) New! – After being informed by the State Highway Dept of their plans to abandon the short spur M-125 route to nowhere and turn it back to County control, the Bay Co Road Commission approves the impending transfer, although the state agrees to resurface the short route prior to transferring it. As part of the turnback process, 3.12 miles of 20-foot-wide bituminous aggregate surfacing is applied to the entirety of M-125 as part of a $37,672 contract let by the State Highway Dept. on August 10.
  1957 (Jun 24) Updated – The short 3-mile spur trunkline designated M-125 in Bay Co is cancelled as a state trunkline route and transferred back to local control. After 19 years as a "three-mile spur route to nowhere," it never fulfills the original proposals as the beginning of a "cut-off route" to Houghton Lake. The second iteration of M-125 thus comes to a close.
  1973 (Sept 26) Updated – The Michigan State Highway Dept announces that now that I-75 is completed and opened to traffic through Detroit, the US-25 designation in Michigan will be discontinued. Michigan and Ohio transportation officials have been considering decommissioning US-25 in both states since 1969. It will be five more months before all US-25 route markers are removed in Michigan. As the segment of US-25 between the Ohio state line and US-24/Telegraph Rd north of Monroe is remaining on the state trunkline highway system, a new route designation will be required for this segment of roadway and the Dept of State Highways & Transportation assigns the M-125 designation to this segment.
  1974 (Winter) New! – All US-25 route markers in the State of Michigan come down as a result of that route's decommissioning and are replaced with M-125 signage along the portion of the route from the Ohio state line south of Erie northerly through Monroe to US-24/Telegraph Rd in Frenchtown Twp.
  1996 (mid-March) New! – The portion of M-125 through the City of Monroe becomes the state's first Historic Heritage Route. "The City of Monroe in conjunction with MDOT nominated the portion of M-125 which runs through the Old Village Historic District, and is contiguous to the East Elm - North Macomb Historic District, and the Custer Equestrian Monument," notes MDOT. The department approves the designation in February and it becomes official one month later after 30-day waiting period and no comments against the designation were received.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-125 exists as freeway or expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-125 is on the National Highway System (NHS).
Pure Michigan Byway: Pure Michigan Highways route markerMonroe Street Historic Heritage Route – From MDOT: "M-125 through the City of Monroe was designated as a Historic Heritage Route. The City of Monroe in conjunction with MDOT nominated the portion of M-125 which runs through the Old Village Historic District, and is contiguous to the East Elm–North Macomb Historic District, and the Custer Equestrian Monument." (As of mid-2021, it was still signed as an Historic Heritage Route and had not been re-signed as a Pure Michigan Byway.)
Memorial Highways:  New! The following Memorial Highway designations have been officially assigned to M-125 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Veterans Memorial Road – M-125 in its entirety. From MDOT: "Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of armed forces classifies as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged."
  • Clara Barton Memorial Highway – "The portion of M-125 beginning at the border between Michigan and Ohio in Monroe County and extending north to the intersection with US-24 and the portion of US24 beginning at the intersection of M-125 and extending north to I-96 in Wayne County..." From MDOT: "Miss Barton was born at North Oxford, Massachusetts in 1821. In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross with headquarters at Dansville, New York. In September of the same year, the first major disaster in which the American Red Cross gave a helping hand was a devastating forest fire in Lapeer, Tuscola and Huron counties in which 125 lives were lost and thousands made homeless without food or shelter. Miss Barton and her little band of earnest assistants gathered blankets, clothing and other necessities for the suffering refugees. Clara Barton died in 1912 at the age of 91."
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