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Interstate 96

 

Routing

Intrastate Interstate 96 cuts across the state of Michigan linking the cities of Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit. The freeway replaced original U.S. 16, which used to cross a ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon, then southeast toward Detroit. U.S. 16 was decommissioned with the completion of the Interstate 96 freeway, as is standard practice in most areas of Michigan.

Originally, Interstate 96 was to begin at the Michigan-Indiana state line cosigned with Interstate 94. At Benton Harbor, Interstate 96 was to split from Interstate 94, following current Interstate 196 all the way to Grand Rapids. At Grand Rapids, Interstate 96 was to have turned onto its existing alignment toward Lansing and Detroit. At this time, Interstate 196 was defined to include what is now Interstate 96 between Muskegon and Lansing. The 1960 Rand McNally Road Atlas maps of Indiana and Michigan show how both Interstates 96 and 196 were initially routed. This was altered in the 1960s, when Interstate 196 took over Interstate 96 between Interstate 94 at Benton Harbor and Interstate 96 in Grand Rapids. Interstate 96 was redefined to begin in Muskegon.

It shares the only reflexive multiplex of the Interstate system when it pairs with Interstate 69 around Lansing.

History

The last section of Interstate 96 (between Eagle/Grand Ledge area and east of Howell) opened to traffic in 1962.3 This 59-mile stretch of freeway replaced former U.S. 16, which was decommissioned.

Future Aspirations

With plans to improve the connection between Interstate 75 and the Ambassador Bridge gateway between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Interstate 96 will be extended beyond its current terminus at Interstate 75 via the bridge into Canada. This project began on February 25, 2008, and will end in December 2009. Interstate 75 and the last mile of Interstate 96 will be closed for much of the duration of this project. For more information, visit the official MDOT - Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project.

Planned Improvements

Interstate 96 will see the construction of two Single Point Urban Interchanges (SPUI) at Exits 159 and 160. These SPUIs will be the first for the state of Michigan. Traffic demands at the Beck and Wixom Road interchanges have overwhelmed the current diamond interchanges that exist there. Rising land costs and a lack of available right-of-way has necessitated the need for a different kind of approach to handling the traffic woes at these junctions. Work will begin in 2004 on the $27.438 million interchange project at Beck Road. This work commences with the construction of a wider overpass for Beck Road. The expanded bridge will support the SPUI intersection of the east and westbound ramps for Interstate 96. Ramp construction at Exit 160 will follow in 2005. A similar process for the Wixom Road interchange will follow sometime later. Interstate 96 through the Novi and Wixom areas opened to traffic in 1957.2

Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 96 replaced U.S. 16 in Michigan.

Western Terminus - U.S. 31 - Muskegon, Michigan
Perspective from Interstate 96 west
The last westbound exit of Interstate 96 is that with Exit 1A for southbound U.S. 31. U.S. 31 is a freeway throughout the Muskegon community, with a business counterpart through downtown. Interstate 96 directly transitions into Business U.S. 31 northbound accordingly. Photo taken by Dale Sanderson (2000).
An Interstate 96 ends shield assembly is posted at the western terminus. Michigan appears to be one of the only states to use "Ends" instead of "End" for its END shields. Note that the signage changed by 2008 to include the beginning of Business U.S. 31. Downtown Muskegon is six miles from the terminus. Photos taken by Bill Burmaster (10/18/08) and Dale Sanderson (2000).
Perspective from Business U.S. 31 south
Interstate 96 begins where Business U.S. 31 ends. This shield assembly shows transition shields at the U.S. 31/Exits 1A/B interchange. Traffic for Interstate 96 will reach Grand Rapids in 30 miles. Control points for the U.S. 31 freeway include Ludington to the north (61 miles) and Grand Haven to the south (seven miles). Traffic wishing to access Interstate 196 can take U.S. 31 29 miles to the south. Photo taken by Dale Sanderson (2000).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway - Detroit, Michigan
Perspective from Interstate 96/Jeffries Freeway east
End Interstate 96 shield at the terminus with Interstate 75. The right-hand ramp takes traffic across a toll bridge into Windsor, Ontario. Meanwhile mainline traffic continues onto Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway southbound. The first photo clearly shows the Ambassador Bridge into Ontario, while the second photo shows the signs a bit more clearly. Photos taken by Dan Garnell (05/02 and 07/02).
Perspective from Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway north
Northbound Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway approaches Exit 48, Junction Interstate 96 within the city limits of Detroit. The control cities featured include the state capital of Lansing for Interstate 96 westbound 86 miles to the west. Flint is featured for Interstate 75, although downtown Detroit still awaits northbound motorists. Photo taken by Jim Teresco and Rob Foulis (08/01/01).
Northbound Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway approaches Exit 48, Junction Interstate 96 within the city limits of Detroit. The control cities featured include the state capital of Lansing for Interstate 96 westbound 86 miles to the west. Flint is featured for Interstate 75, although downtown Detroit still awaits northbound motorists. Photo taken by Jim Teresco and Rob Foulis (08/01/01).
Interstate 75 nears the westbound beginning of Interstate 96/Exit 48. At this interchange, Interstate 75 turns to the northeast and downtown Detroit. Interstate 96 branches off to the northwest before turning westward near milepost 187. Photo taken by Dan Garnell (08/02/02).
Perspective from Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway south
Now traveling south on Interstate 75, this set of overheads (both on the main lanes and collector-distributor lanes) indicate that the connection to Junction Interstate 96 west to Lansing is 0.75 miles away. This used to be the exit to old Tiger Stadium (Rosa Parks Boulevard). The collector-distributor lanes come to this interchange from Michigan 10/Lodge Freeway. Photos taken by Frankin Gillon (09/03/07).
The ramp to Interstate 96 is now one-half mile ahead. Note that the dual freeway configuration continues as we draw closer to Interstate 96. Photos taken by Frankin Gillon (09/03/07).
This perspective from the collector-distributor lanes advises of the lane allocation for the pending split between Interstate 75/Fisher Freeway south and Interstate 96/Jeffries Freeway west. Photo taken by Frankin Gillon (09/03/07).
The two primary Interstate highways split at Exit 48. From here, Interstate 96 travels west to Lansing, and Interstate 75 continues south along the former U.S. 25 corridor toward Toledo, Ohio, and points south. On these signs, the cardinal directions "west" and "south" are omitted. Photos taken by Frankin Gillon (09/03/07).
Historic Eastern Terminus - Michigan 5/Grand River Road - Farmington, Michigan
This split of Michigan 5 westbound from Grand River Avenue represents the historic westbound beginning of Interstate 96 from 1958 to 1977. In 1957, the Brighton-Farmington Freeway, known then as U.S. 16, opened to traffic from Farmington westward to U.S. 23 at Brighton. By 1962, U.S. 16 was truncated leaving Interstate 96 the freeway in a solo capacity. Grand River Avenue from the end of the freeway into Detroit was then christened Business Loop 96. Interstate 275 and the Jefferies Freeway opened to traffic in 1977, thus relocating Interstate 96 onto the alignment it follows today. 1 Photo taken by Dan Garnell (09/02).
A Business Loop 96 trailblazer is displayed in downtown Detroit in this undated photograph by Ron Wilbanks. Additionally a U.S. 10 trailblazer is also shown in the photograph (this route is now Michigan 10). While Interstate 96 was relocated in 1977, the orphaned Business Loop 96 and Farmington bypass were also redesignated. Michigan 102, which is presently found on 8 Mile Road, overtook the Interstate 96 freeway and Business Spur 96 westward to Interstate 275. Grand River Road (Business Spur 96) east of Michigan 102 became Michigan 5. Changes again came to these roadways in 1994 when Michigan 5 was extended westward to override Michigan 102 from 8 Mile to Interstate 275. 1

Sources:

  1. Background information and dates of the Interstate 96 history courtesy Dan Garnell/Chris Bessert (http://members.aol.com/MichiganHwys/MichHwys76-100.html)
  2. "Road engineers plan new kind of interchange for I-96." The Oakland Press, October 12, 2003.
  3. Interstate roads have shaped the future for many mid-Michigan communities, Lansing State Journal, July 23, 2006, By Christine Rook and featuring Michigan Highways creator Chris Bessert.

Page Updated August 30, 2009.

 
Mileage

State MIchigan
Mileage 192.06
Cities Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Livonia, Detroit
Junctions Interstate 296, Interstate 196, Interstate 69, Interstate 496, Interstate 69, Interstate 496/Future Interstate 73, Interstate 275/Interstate 696, Interstate 275, Interstate 94, Interstate 75
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
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