Interstate 275 forms a western bypass of Detroit from north of Monroe to Romulus, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DET), Canton and Livonia. The freeway was originally planned to reconnect with Interstate 75, following a course just west of West Bloomfield and Waterford. It was not completed as U.S. 23 already provided a long distance bypass between Toledo, Ohio and Flint.
I-275 traverses mostly rural areas of northeastern Monroe County to the east of Carleton into semi-rural areas of western Wayne County. The freeway leads north to Eureka Road (Exit 15), which provides access to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DET) for travelers originating from Monroe and Toledo to the south. The route shifts westward from the airport perimeter to converge with Interstate 94 in Romulus.
The remainder of Interstate 275 north parallels Haggerty Road as a commuter route along a mixture of industrial areas, apartment complexes and business parks. A large directional cloverleaf interchange at Livonia brings Interstate 96 north onto I-275 west from the Jeffries Freeway opposite the freeway along M-14 west to Ann Arbor. I-96/275 overlap 6.5 miles north along a commercialized corridor to Farmington Hills and Novi. I-275 ends at a large interchange complex where I-96 resumes a westward heading to Lansing, I-696 ties in from Southfield to the east and M-5 intertwines from Farmington to Novi.
I-275 was not included in the initial 1,080 mile Interstate system proposed by the state of Michigan in 1954. Area growth in the Detroit suburbs however made the route a necessity. The recommended Interstate Route Numbering for Michigan in 1958 determined that the through routes for urban area Interstates should be numbered along the planned circumferential routes:
The travelling public generally prefers to follow a continuous numbered route on long trips and we feel that designating the urban connectors as the through route would tend to discourage the use of the circumferential route. We believe that the travelling public should be encouraged to use the circumferential route and the urban connectors relieved of unnecessary traffic through the urban area.
In Michigan, particularly, the circumferential routes will be built and completed and ready for operation for a considerable length of time prior to the completion of the urban connecting routes.
The recommended numbering for urban routes in the Detroit area included Interstate 98 for the route east from I-96 to I-77 (eventual I-75) north of Detroit and Interstate 73 for the route north from I-75 south of Detroit to I-75 northwest of Detroit. A letter dated August 29, 1958 from the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) to the Michigan State Highway Department indicated that
If we were to apply 2-digit numbers to metropolitan areas, we estimate that we would have to have several hundred 2-digit numbers which, of course, is impossible. The two digit numbers, by policy, have been reserved for major road sections of the Interstate System in rural areas and for the urban extensions of those rural sections.
Furthermore AASHO recommended that Interstate Route 73 west of Detroit be changed to Interstate 294 and Route 98 to the north of Detroit changed to I-696. The state of Michigan responded to AASHO on September 12, 1958, recommending that 275 be used in place of 294, as the route connects with I-75 to the south and may be extended northerly to link with I-75 north of Detroit. AASHO concurred with final approval on December 18, 1958.
Construction for the entire 58 mile long proposed route was estimated to cost $95 million and planned to start in segments between January 1970 and July 1971. The Monroe County portion was scheduled for bidding between February and June 1971.1
As originally envisioned, Interstate 275 was to lead north from I-75 at Newport to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Romulus where it would turn west for about three miles then continue north to Plymouth and Northville to meet I-75 again midway between Detroit and Flint. 14 interchanges were proposed on the 30 mile route between I-75 and Interstate 96 in Oakland County.1
Construction along Interstate 275 ran through 1977. The final 26 mile long section ran north from U.S. 24, north of Monroe, to M-153 (Ford Road) in Wayne County. The $250 million project was completed on January 13, 1977 with six overall lanes. The last section built tied into a three mile stretch between I-75 and U.S. 24 and the 11 mile section north to I-696 at Novi that both opened in 1976.2
The remaining 24 mile long segment of proposed Interstate 275 leading north from I-696 to I-75 northwest of Pontiac was canceled in 1977. Protests from Oakland County residents cited that the route was not necessary and that it would take away from needed agricultural and recreational land. The projected path also took I-275 through a 200 acre wetland that was home to the southernmost stand of black spruce in North America. Planners subsequently shifted attention to the upgrading of U.S. 233