I-75

I-75

by Bret Schnitzer

Interstate 75 (I-75) is a part of the Interstate Highway System and runs from Miami, Florida, to Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I-75 enters the state from Ohio in the south, just to the north of Toledo and runs generally north through Detroit, Pontiac and Bay City, crossing the Mackinac Bridge and ends at the Canadian border in Sault Ste. Marie. The freeway runs for approximately 395 miles (636 km) on both of Michigan’s two peninsulas. The landscapes traversed by I-75 include Southern Michigan farmland, northern forests, suburban bedroom communities and the urban core of Detroit. The freeway also uses three of the state’s monumental bridges to cross major bodies of water. There are four auxiliary Interstates in the state related to I-75, as well as nine current or former business routes, with either Business Loop I-75 (BL I-75) or Business Spur I-75 (BS I-75) designations.

The freeway bears several names in addition to the I-75 designation. The southern segment was called the Detroit–Toledo Expressway during planning in the 1950s and 1960s. Through Detroit, I-75 is the Fisher Freeway or the Walter P. Chrysler Freeway, named for pioneers in the auto industry. Sections on either side of the Mackinac Bridge are the G. Mennen Williams Freeway or the Prentiss M. Brown Freeway, named for politicians that helped get the bridge built. Officially, the entire length is the American Legion Memorial Highway. Various sections carry components of the four Great Lakes Circle Tours in the state.

Various Indian trails spanned the state along the general path of the modern freeway. After statehood, several of these were converted into plank roads that later became some of the first state highways. In the 1920s, five of these were added to the United States Numbered Highway System: US Highway 2 (US 2), US 10, US 24, US 25, and US 27. In the 1950s, a Michigan Turnpike was proposed as a tolled, controlled-access highway in the Lower Peninsula. After passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956, this turnpike proposal was shelved as a free Interstate Highway was planned. Construction started in 1957, signs went up in 1959, and I-75 was completed in 1973. Since completion, the freeway has been upgraded with the construction of the Zilwaukee Bridge near Saginaw and improved connections to the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.

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