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M-38 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Western Terminus:    Jct US-45/S Steel St & M-64 in Ontonagon, south of downtown
Eastern Terminus:    US-41 in Baraga at cnr Michigan Ave & US-41
Length: Updated 42.064 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-38
Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006
Notes: The current iteration of M-38 has been in existence since the late-1960s when it replaced the western disconnected part of the M-35 route from Baraga to the Greenland area.
  Construction on a new bridge spanning the Ontonagon River in Ontonagon began in 2005 and was completed in October 2006, replacing the 1939 swing bridge on M-64 at the western end of downtown. The new bridge, however, is approximately one-half mile upriver from the old span and, as such, several state trunkline route changes have taken place upon the opening of the bridge on October 11, 2006. A new alignment for M-38 was constructed beginning at Mercury St and bending westerly to an intersection with US-45/Steel St between Mercury and Steel Sts, where M-38 now has a new western terminus. Continuing westerly from this point is the relocated M-64. (See the Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006 map.)
  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, MSHD staff recommended one major change to the route of M-38 during that timeframe, including:
  • Rerouting M-35, which in 1960 ran southwesterly with M-26 from the Greenland area through Mass City to a joint terminus with M-26 at US-45 near Rockland, onto a new state trunkline routing from Greenland northwesterly to Ontonagon. This proposal would actually come to pass in 1971 when US-45 was rerouted from its Rockland-to-Ontonagon segment to run via M-26 to Greenland, then west-northwesterly to Onontagon, athough US-45 was restored to its pre-1971 routing in 1973 when M-38 was extended west from Greenland to Ontonagon. (M-38 was the "replacement designation" for M-35 from Baraga westerly.)
History: c.1930–31 One source shows M-38 is scaled back in c.1930 to end at a newly-designated M-83 in Frankenmuth. M-83 enters Frankenmuth from the north, then turns westerly to replace M-38 to its end at US-10/US-23 southeast of Bridgeport. Whether this was a temporary situation or a cartographic error, M-38 is extended westerly from Frankenmuth back to US-10/US-23 by 1931 when M-83 is routed southerly from Frankenmuth along its present-day routing.
  1931 An 11-mile concurrent stretch with M-24 is created between Mayville and Vassar when M-24's alignment is changed in the Thumb.
  1941 The 11-mile concurrent segment with M-24 is whittled down to just two miles as M-24 is realigned to run northerly from M-38 near Mayville toward Caro.
  1950 In early 1950, the concurrent M-24/M-38 designation is once again extended at Mayville, this time by two miles to the east of town as a new alignment of M-24 opens there.
  1954 The concurrent M-24/M-38 routing again changes at Mayville: this time a rerouting of M-24 north and west of town removes the concurrent segment to the west of Mayville, leaving only M-38 there. The two-mile concurrent M-24/M-28 designation remains on the east side of town.
  1961 Coinciding with the completion of a portion of the I-75/US-10/US-23 freeway in Saginaw Co near M-38's western terminus, the entire highway is removed from the state highway system, with the exception of the two mile M-24/M-38 concurrent stretch at Mayville, which retains the M-24 designation. The former route of M-38 is turned back to local control. It would only be until later in the decade that M-38 would reappear, this time in the U.P.
  1968 The M-35 routing west of Baraga is redesignated as M-38. The concurrent segment of M-26/M-35 in the Greeland-Mass City area becomes simply M-26 between (the new) M-38 and US-45, with M-38 ending at M-26.
  1971 With the rerouting of US-45 via M-26 to Greenland then northwesterly along the newly reconstructed Ontonagon-Greenland Rd toward Ontonagon, M-26 is scaled back to the new interection of US-45 one mile east of Greenland.
  1973MDOT restores US-45 back to its original pre-1971 alignment through Rockland directly to Ontonagon and restores the M-26 designation back to its former routing, ending at US-45 two miles east of Rockland. M-38 is concurrently designated with M-26 for about one mile east of Greenland, then runs northwesterly via the 1971-1973 aligment of US-45 (Ontonagon-Greenland Rd) to end at US-45 in downtown Ontonagon.
  2005 Construction on a new Ontonagon River bridge at Ontonagon begins and will be complete in October 2006 (see "Notes" section above).
  2006 (Oct 11) The new fixed-span Ontonagon River bridge opens at Ontonagon (see "Notes" section above). M-64 is diverted to cross the river via the new bridge and now terminates at US-45 several blocks south of its former junction with M-38. M-38 continues easterly from the new US-45 & M-64 junction before rejoining its former route on the east side of the village. The former route of M-38 from the new eastern bridge approach westerly to its former terminus at US-45 (cnr Steel St & River St) is now an unsigned trunkline (as OLD M-38). (See the Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006 map.)
  2007 (Oct 16) Just over a year from its debut as an unsigned, old state trunkline route, the former route of M-38 from the new eastern Ontonagon River bridge approach westerly to M-38's former terminus at US-45 (cnr Steel St & River St) is transferred to local control as a village street. (See the Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006 map.)
Controlled Access: No portion of M-38 exists to freeway or expressway standards.
Circle Tour: Lake Superior Circle Tour MarkerLake Superior Circle Tour: From the western terminus at US-45 in Ontonagon to the eastern jct of M-26 east of Greenland.
NHS: New! M-38 is on the NHS. along its concurrency with M-26 east of Greenland in eastern Ontonagon Co. (1.1 miles) (The segment was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
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