Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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Western Terminus:    Cnr First St (formerly sbd BUS US-31) & Webster Ave in downtown Muskegon
Eastern Terminus:    Port Sanilac at M-25 (cnr Main St & Ridge St)
Length: Updated 199.680 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-46
Notes: This highway, a major connecting route from Muskegon to Saginaw and into the Thumb, is only one of three cross-peninsular state ("M-numbered") highways in the Lower Peninsula today. The others are M-55 (Manistee-to-Tawas City) and M-72 (Empire-to-Harrisville).
  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 many changes to the route of M-46 during that timeframe, including:
  • Realigning M-46 from US-31 at Muskegon westerly into downtown onto a new freeway routing a bit north of the existing Apple Ave alignment, ending at BUS US-31 on the north side of downtown. This proposal was never implemented.
  • Converting M-46 from US-31 in Muskegon easterly to the M-37 junction west of Casnovia, then northerly with M-37 to the northern jct of M-37 & M-46 at Newaygo (with the exception of the one mile stretch through the City of Grant) to an unlimited access divded highway along the existing alignment. This proposal was never acted upon.
  • Relocate M-46 onto a new-alignment US-131 freeway running west of the existing alignment of US-131 from Howard City for 2½ miles then easterly as an uncontrolled-access two-lane highway back to the northern jct of US-131 & M-46 north of Howard City. The former alignment from the US-131 freeway easterly into Howard City, then northerly along the existing route of US-131 to the northern jct of M-46 being converted to a "business route," although the maps are not clear whether this would have been a business routing for M-46, US-131, or both. This proposal was never implemented.
  • Constructing a new-alignment M-46 freeway beginning at US-27 at the southern BUS US-27 junction south of St Louis, then proceeding easterly parallel to and just south of Jackson Rd into Saginaw Co where it would continue parallel to and just north of Ederer Rd to Orr Rd southeast of Hemlock where it would then turn northeasterly to a junction with M-47 (now M-52) where M-46 would transition to an uncontrolled-access divided highway. Interchanges would have been located at Wisner Rd (Breckenridge) and Mason Rd in Gratiot Co, and at Merrill Rd, Hemlock Rd and M-47 in Saginaw Co. M-46 would have followed US-27 from the Monroe Rd interchange west of Saint Louis to the State Rd interchange south of St Louis. The former route of M-46 from US-27 into downtown St Louis was to become a "business route" (whether just as BUS US-27 or also as a BUS M-46 routing) and the remainder of the existing M-46 from St Louis easterly through Breckenridge, Hemlock and Merrill would have been turned back to local control. Nothing from this proposal was ever acted upon.
  • Converting three segments of M-46 to unlimited access divided highway (or one-way pairing of parallel streets in an urban environment): From the end of the proposed freeway at M-47 (see point above) east of Hemlock to the west limits of the City of Saginaw; from Wells St on the west side of Saginaw, across the Saginaw River to a relocated M-13 routing at Sheridan Ave on the east side of Saginaw; and from I-75/US-23 east of Saginaw easterly to M-15 at Richville in Tuscola Co. This reccommendation was partially implemented with the following segments of M-46 converted to divided highway or one-way street pairs: From M-47 east of Hemlock to Gaslight Ln in Shields; and from Stephens St to Newton St and from Sheridan Ave to east of 16th St, both in Saginaw. The rest of the proposal was never implemented.
History: c.1920 At the outset, M-46 runs approximately along its present-day routing from M-13 (later US-131) at Howard City to downtown Saginaw. The two major differences are: 1) the route runs easterly and northerly in a stair-step fashion from downtown Howard City to Amble; and 2) at the Montcalm/Gratiot Co line, M-46 dips south to run through Riverdale and Elwell into downtown Alma, then northeasterly via Michigan Ave into Saint Louis.
  1924 M-46 is extended both easterly and westerly to end at its present-day termini in Muskegon and Port Sanilac. On the western end, M-46 is extended southerly from Howard City via M-13 (later US-131) to Cedar Springs, then due westerly via 17 Mile Rd to meet M-54 (later M-37) at Kent City, jogging northwesterly into Casnovia, then due westerly replacing all of M-43 to end at M-11 (later US-31) in downtown Muskegon, adding 51 miles to the highway's length. On the eastern end, M-46 is extended easterly from Saginaw, via Richville, Kingston, Sandusky and Carsonville to end in Port Sanilac, adding 68 more miles.
  1926–30 From 1926 to 1930, US-131/M-46 is realigned onto a new, more direct alignment between Cedar Rapids and Howard City via Sand Lake and Pierson. The former, stair-step route is turned back to local control.
  1934 The route is realigned between Howard City and Amble to run due westerly from Amble on its present-day alignment along Howard City-Edmore Rd to US-131, then southerly with US-131 to Howard City. The former route is turned back to local control.
  1935 M-46 appears to have become two discontinuous routes in 1935. Until this time, M-46 east of Muskegon follows its present-day route to and with M-37 to Kent City, then easterly via 17 Mile Rd to Cedar Springs, then northerly along with US-131 to Howard City. On the Official 1935 Michigan State Highway Department map, the portion of M-46 between Kent City and Cedar Springs (17 Mile Rd) is shown as not being a marked trunkline and the two portions of M-46 are not connected with each other.
  c.1936–37 Several changes to the route of M-46 occur at this time:
  • M-46 is extended westerly in Muskegon from its terminus at US-31/Peck St via Lakeshore Blvd to end at the Muskegon Lake outlet into Lake Michigan near Pere Marquette Park.
  • M-46 is concurrently designated with M-37 northerly from the Casnovia area to Newaygo, then easterly concurrently with M-82 to US-131 at Howard City, eliminating the discontinuous route.
  • The route of M-46 is also relocated onto a new alignment via Howard City-Edmore Rd (Montcalm Co) and Monroe Rd (Gratiot Co) from the Vestaburg area easterly into downtown Saint Louis. Much of former M-46 is turned back to local control, except for Michigan Ave between the downtowns of Alma and St Louis, which is redesignated as M-177.
  1938 M-46 is realigned onto a more direct route at Six Lakes in north-central Montcalm Co, shaving a mile from the route. The former route is turned back to county control. Also, the concurrent M-46/M-82 designation between Newaygo and Howard City is removed and becomes only M-46. Ironically, this will be redesignated as M-82 when M-46 is rerouted in 1973.
  1947 A minor realigment is completed at Cedar Lake in northeastern Montcalm Co with the former route turned back to local control.
  1959 The western extension of M-46 (c.1936-37 above) is scaled back from the Lake Michigan shoreline at Muskegon. It instead runs concurrently with BUS US-31 through downtown Muskegon, then concurrently with US-16 for approximately 4 blocks to the Lake Michigan ferry docks on Muskegon Lake. Also, a new alignment between Oak Creek and the Newaygo/Montcalm County line is complete, and with the new alignment, the final few miles of gravel-surfaced M-46 are paved.
  1961 With the completion of the US-27 freeway bypassing Alma/St Louis, the concurrent US-27/M-46 designation in St Louis becomes BUS US-27/M-46.
  1964 A new, more direct highway alignment on the south side of Newaygo shaves about 2 miles from the route. A portion of the former route is turned back to local control while other sections are abandoned.
  1970 All of M-47 from M-46 southerly is redesignated as M-52, meaning the former concurrent portion of M-46/M-47 becomes just M-46.
  1973 With the completion of the US-131 freeway northerly past Howard City, M-46 is routed once again into Kent Co. The highway is rerouted concurrently with M-37 easterly from Casnovia to Kent City, then due easterly along the former M-57 routing (which was also the pre-1934 alignment of M-46!) via 17 Mile Rd to US-131 at Cedar Springs, then turns northerly concurrently with US-131 back to the existing M-46 north of Howard City. The formerly concurrent portion of M-37/M-46 (Casnovia to Newaygo via Grant) becomes just M-37, while the former route of M-46 from Newaygo to US-131 at Howard City is redesignated as an extension of M-82 (ironically, this segment had been M-82 prior to 1938).
  1984 The 1959 extension of M-46 through downtown Muskegon and to the (now former) Lake Michigan ferry docks is removed and the western terminus is relocated to its present-day location at Webster-Muskegon Aves (BUS US-31 until 2007) . The concurrent BS I-96/M-46 via Sixth St, Western Ave and Mart St is turned back to local control.
Controlled Access: Freeway: Concurrently with US-131 from Cedar Springs at Exit 104 to north of Howard Springs at Exit 120. (13.3 miles)
  Expressway: Concurrently with M-37 from the western limits of Casnovia in far eastern Muskegon Co to the eastern jct of M-37 & M-46 at Kent City. (2.0 miles)
NHS: Two segments of M-46 are on the National Highway System (NHS):
  1. From the western terminus at Webster-Muskegon Aves (former BUS US-31) in downtown Muskegon to US-31 at Exit 114 on the east side of Muskegon. (2.3 miles)
  2. From the southern jct of US-131 & M-46 at Exit 104 at Cedar Springs to M-25 in Port Sanliac. M-53 north of Marlette. (164.9 miles) (The portion of M-46 from M-53 north of Marlette to M-25 in Port Sanilac was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
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