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M-39
M-40 Route Marker On to Next Route:
US-41
Southern Terminus:    US-12, three miles west of Mottville in southeastern Cass Co
Northern Terminus:    US-31/BL I-196 at the cnr of Lincoln Ave in the southeastern portion of the City of Holland
Length: Updated 74.299 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-40
Notes: Prior to 1971, M-40 ran southwesterly from Paw Paw along the route of present-day M-51 to Niles, while M-119 ran southerly from Paw Paw along present-day M-40 to US-12. The odd jog in M-40 at Paw Paw dates back to the 1920s when M-40 only occupied the Paw Paw-to-Niles routing. In later years, as M-40 was extended to the north and M-119 was extended south of Paw Paw, the portion of highway through Decatur and Dowagiac to Niles came to be a less-than-logical routing for M-40.
  Until more recent times, M-40 continued northerly from its northern terminus at Holland via Lincoln Ave and State St to end at BUS US-31/BL I-196/River Ave-Michigan Ave (now, itself, no longer a state trunkline highway) just south of downtown, but was scaled back to end at US-31 for some reason.
  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 several major changes to the route of M-40 during that timeframe, including:
  • Converting the route of M-40 (now designated M-51) from the northern limit of the City of Niles to the Berrien/Cass Co line. This proposal was not implemented.
  • Adding a new nothern bypass of Niles, designated on the planning maps as ALTERNATE M-40, departing M-40 in the North Niles area (approximately 1 mile north of the corner of N 5th St & Lake St) and heading westerly to a connection with the proposed US-31 freeway near the St Joseph River crossing between the Niles-Buchanan Rd and Walton Rd interchanges. This proposal was never implemented.
  • Realignment of M-40 onto a new divided highway alignment from the existing route just south of the southern limits of the CIty of Allegan northwesterly along a bypass (itself continuing the M-89 divided highway bypass beginning at US-131 and continuing south of Otsego and Allegan) running to the southwest of the existing route along Lincoln Rd, merging back into the existing route of M-40 at the jct of M-40 & M-89 (cnr Lincoln Rd & 124th Ave) near Dunningville. The former route was to have been turned back to local control, with the exception of the portion of M-40 along Jenner Dr and N Cedar St in Allegan, which would have become an extension of M-118 (now designated M-222). This proposal was not implemented.
  • Realignment of M-40 to continue on the northwesterly trajectory followed from Allegan through Hamilton and into Holland from where it turns westerly at 48th St in Holland nearly due northwesterly along a new routing meeting back with its existing alignment at the cnr of Lincoln Rd, 32nd St & State St, where it would continue via State St to its terminus at BUS US-31/River Ave-Michigan Ave. This proposal was never implemented.
History: c.1920 – M-40 begins at the Indiana state line south of Niles and runs northerly along present-day M-51 through Niles, Dowagiac and Decatur. North of Decatur, M-40 turns northeasterly via Paw Paw Rd into Paw Paw, where it ends at M-17 (later to become US-12).
  1923 M-40 is shortened by 4 miles when M-58 (later US-31) replaces it from downtown Niles to the Indiana state line. Also, M-40 is lengthened on the other end by 18 miles when the route is extended northerly from Paw Paw through Gobleville (present-day Gobles) to end at M-89 in Allegan.
  1925 M-40 is realigned between Decatur and Paw Paw to run due northerly from Decatur to M-17 (soon to become US-12), then easterly via M-17 back to its former alignment in Paw Paw. The former route of M-40 along Paw Paw Rd is turned back to local control.
  1926 By 1928, M-40 is extended easterly along the former route of M-89 between Allegan and US-131 at Martin (the routing of present-day M-222). M-89 is realigned to run southeasterly from Allegan to Plainwell.
  1929 M-40 is removed from the Allegan-to-Martin route (replaced by M-118) and realigned onto a new routing running northwesterly from Allegan, ending in Holland at US-31—its present-day alignment.
  1933 M-40 is extended southwesterly from downtown Niles via M-60 (soon to be co-signed with US-112) for 4 miles, then southwesterly via Chicago Rd to end at the Indiana state line. The last 6 miles along Chicago Rd are shown as "graded-earth surface" on maps.
  1934 The route extension in 1933, as noted above, lasted only one year since the 1935 Official Highway Map does not show the extension.
  1946 The final 6 miles of gravel-surfaced M-40 are paved, between Dunningville and Hamilton in central Allegan Co.
  1952 In mid-1952, M-89 is realigned in central Alleagan Co and its concurrent designation with M-40 is extended by 7 miles.
  1954 A new alignment of M-40 opens, eliminating two 90-degree curves, approximately 6 miles west of Decatur.
  1960 With the completion of the I-94/US-12 freeway in Van Buren Co, M-40 is routed via the new freeway for 4 miles west of Paw Paw while the former route is turned back to local control.
  1971 (Sept 11) New! The State Highway Dept announces a change in highway route designations involving M-40 and M-119 in Van Buren, Cass and Berrien Cos to go into effect later in the fall. From Paw Paw, M-119 will be supplanted in its entirety by a rerouted M-40, which will now continue south from Paw Paw through Lawton and Marcellus, terminating at US-12 west of Mottville. The former route of M-40 between I-94 west of Paw Paw southerly through Decatur and Dowagiac to Niles will be redesignated as M-51. The concurrent I-94/M-40 segment between Exits 56 and 60 becomes just I-94. Reasons given for the change by MSHD officials include motorist confusion with having M-40 routed along I-94 for four miles and the M-119 route from Paw Paw southerly being a much more logical routing for M-40 to follow.
  1971 (Nov) Updated Following completion of a widening project along M-40 in downtown Dowagiac, the route designation changes for M-40 and M-119 announced earlier in the year take effect. All M-119 route markers are changed out for M-40 signs, while all M-40 signs between I-94 at Exit 56 and downtown Niles are swapped out for new M-51 markers. The M-119 route designation is retired at this point and the length of M-40 is shortened by 9½ miles.
  1994 (June 20) M-40 is scaled back from its northern terminus at BUS US-31/BL I-196 in Holland to end at US-31 on the south side of Holland. The former route via Lincoln Ave and State St is turned back to municipal control.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-40 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: Updated From jct M-89 (at cnr Jenner Dr & Marshall St-Cedar St) in Allegan northwesterly to the northern terminus at US-31/BL I-196 in Holland. (21.3 miles) (The segment of M-40 from M-89 in Allegan to I-196 at Exit 49 in Holland was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Photographs:  
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