Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-15 Route Marker On to Next Routes:
Historic US-16 & M-16
Southern Terminus:    US-24/Dixie Hwy just south of Clarkston
Northern Terminus:    M-25 in eastern Bay City (cnr Center Ave & Tuscola Rd)
Length: 69.660 miles
Map: Route Map of M-15
Notes: From the Ortonville area north to Bay City, M-15 has been designated as a Recreational Heritage Route by MDOT. Communities along the route of M-15 promote the route as a scenic alternative to I-75 from Metro Detroit northerly to the Tri-Cities area, in order to capture some of the abundant tourist traffic heading north along that major corridor. Unfortunately, M-15 is in need of upgrading from Clarkston to Davison, and traffic can sometimes be very heavy along the route.
  Regarding the Heritage Route, MDOT states: "From Clarkston to Bay City, Michigan’s very first Recreational Heritage Route parallels I-75, offering motorists pleasant surprises and a welcomed diversion from fast paced freeway travel. Clarkston kicks things off at the south end with its summer festivals, parades and outdoor concerts. There’s plenty of camping, fishing and hiking to do along the 85-mile route. Just a few miles from Millington is the Murphy Lake State Game area, a great source of hunting land, trails, lakes and streams. The route concludes just east of downtown Bay City, where marinas, museums, galleries, a lighthouse and a magnificently restored city hall await travelers." The name of this route has evolved into the Pathway to Family Fun Recreational Heritage Route.
  A 1933 highway map shows a proposed M-15 highway running southerly from Clarkston through southern Oakland Co, passing Farmington to the west and skirting Northville and Plymouth to the east, through Belleville to the Wayne/Monroe Co line. This proposed highway would have served as a western bypass of the Detroit area. While the entire highway was not built and M-15 never ran south from Clarkston, much of this proposed road was actually built from Pontiac Tr near Walled Lake souterly through southern Oakland Co and most of Wayne Co—today's Haggerty Hwy. The general route of Haggerty Hwy became, 45 years after it was first proposed, part of the I-275 corridor.
  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 only one change to the route of M-15 as it existed in 1960. At Bay City, the State Highway Dept was in the process of extending M-15 to run concurrently with M-25 from its previous (and present-day) northern terminus westerly to the new I-75/US-10/US-23 freeway west of the city. The planners recommended diverting M-15 off its existing path as it approached Bay City to run westerly via Young's Ditch Rd/22nd St and Lafayette Ave to Garfield Ave. Until 1960, Garfield Ave north from Lafayette Ave and Lafayette west from Garfield had been signed as BUS US-23, but with the completion of the I-75/US-10/US-23 freeway north from Saginaw, the Garfield-Lafayette route was in the process of being redesignated as part of BL I-75 (a complete loop). Therefore, it's not clear if the recommendation was to then route M-15 northerly along BL I-75/Garfield-Washington Aves into downtown Bay City where it would turn left and continue as BL I-75/M-15/M-25 to the freeway, or to continue westerly with BL I-75 (now M-13/M-84) across the Lafayette St Bridge before turning north to continue with M-13 (formerly US-23) up Euclid Ave to BL I-75M-25 and then west to the freeway. The existing segment of M-15 between Young's Ditch Rd and M-25/Center Ave was to have been turned back to local control. In any event, the change was never implemented.
History: 1920 – Prior to the creation of the US Highway system, M-15 runs along the general alignment of present-day US-41 from Wisconsin at Menominee, through Escanaba, Gladstone, Marquette, Ishpeming, L'Anse, Houghton and Hancock, ending at Copper Harbor.
  1922 (June 10) – Although officially established as part of M-15 on April 1, 1919, construction on the segment of M-15 in Baraga Co from Tioga northerly to L'Anse was so difficult that it has taken the better part of four years to complete the entire segment, with the last portion to be finished being the bridge spanning Pelkie Creek. The remainder of M-15 between Tioga and the Baraga/Houghton Co line has been open since 1921. Prior to completion of the new route, traffic is routed over the former route along Nestoria-Herman Rd although a miscommunication between the State Highway Dept and the Baraga Co Road Commission led to M-15 route markers not being erected along the temporary route for at least a year until the mistake was rectified in late 1920 or early 1921.
  1925 – As originally proposed in 1925, M-15 was scheduled to be replaced by three different US Highways in four segments. From the Wisconsin line to Powers, M-15 was to be designated US-41, while from Powers to Rapid River, it was to become part of US-2. From Rapid River to Covington, M-15 was proposed to be designated US-102, while the remainder from Covington to Copper Harbor was to be, again, part of US-41.
  1926 – Unlike what was proposed in 1925, the final US Highay replacement for M-15 in Michigan was decided to be solely US-41 throughout. The M-15 designation is removed from that route and almost immediately transferred to a new state trunkline routing in the Lower Peninsula. This new highway begins at US-10 (present-day US-24) in Clarkston and proceeds northerly through Davison and Otisville, ending at M-38 & M-24 in Vassar.
  1935 (May) Updated 2023-06 – From Vassar to its northern terminus at Bay City, the M-15 designation is added to the route of M-24 resulting in a M-15/M-24 concurrency between those cities. At M-25/Center Ave in Bay City, M-15 is extended westerly in a rather cumbersome triple-concurrency as M-15/M-24/M-25 through downtown Bay City and further west as a bizarre four-way concurrent US-23/M-15/M-24/M-25 to a terminus at Euclid Ave on the west side of the city. The Bay City Chamber of Commerce Roads Committee has been requesting the change to "prevent confusion at Vassar" and at a conference earlier in the year, State Highway Commissioner Murray D. Van Wagoner agreed and the State Highway Department implements the change and adds the concurrent designation to its May 15, 1935 edition of the official highway map.
  c.1937 – By 1937, the northern termini of both M-15 and M-24 were scaled back to end at M-25/Center Ave in eastern Bay City. The 1937–1959 routing of M-15 was, ironically, identical to its 1970–present routing.
  1942 (Apr 18) Updated 2023-08 – The concurrent M-24 designation is removed from M-15 when M-24 is realigned to end in Caro instead of Vassar.
  1959 – The M-15 designation extended from its northern terminus at M-25/Center Ave in Bay City westerly concurrent with M-25 and BUS US-23 to US-23/Euclid Ave (present day M-13), much as it had from 1934 to 1937.
  1960 – The M-15/M-25 designation is extended westerly from M-13/Euclid Ave to the newly completed I-75/US-23/US-10 freeway west of Bay City.
  1970 – After only a decade running concurrently with M-25 through downtown Bay City, M-15 is once again scaled back to its pre-1959 terminus in Bay City at M-25/Center Ave.
  1996 – Much of M-15 is designated as a Recreational Heritage Route.
Controlled-Access: No portion of M-15 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: M-15 is part of the National Highway System (NHS) from its southern terminus at US-24/Dixie Hwy near Clarkston to Flint St in downtown Davison, east of Flint. (23.2 miles) (The segment from I-75 at Exit 91 north to Davison was added in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Pure Michigan
Recreational Heritage Route MarkerPathway to Family Fun Recreational Heritage Route: From Clarkston in northern Oakland Co to the northern terminus of M-15 east of downtown Bay City.
Memorial Highway:  The following Memorial Highway designations have been officially assigned to parts of M-15 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Deputy Eric Overall Memorial Highway – "The portion of highway M-15 beginning at the intersection of highway M-15 and highway I-75 in Oakland County and extending north to the county line of Oakland and Genesee counties..." From the Michigan Legislature: "Deputy Eric Overall, of Oakland County, was killed on November 23, 2017, Thanksgiving morning, while trying to stop a suspect during a police chase. He was a 22-year veteran of the Oakland County Sheriff's office and was 50 years old when he was killed. The deadly chase began in a jail parking lot in Lapeer County. Deputy Overall had gotten out of his car to place tire-deflating stop sticks on the road and end the pursuit. However, the suspect deliberately hit Deputy Overall when he encountered the stop stick emplacements."
  • Purple Heart Trail – "The portion of highway M-15 within the village of Ortonville..." From the Michigan Legislature: "The Purple Heart is the oldest military medal and is still being awarded today to service members who were wounded or killed in the line of duty. According to committee testimony, 72 VFW post members living in the village of Ortonville are Purple Heart recipients. The recipients’ range of military service includes World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf."
  • Specialist 5 Michael May and Corporal Chris Esckelson Memorial Highway – "The portion of highway M-15 in the city of Vassar..." From MDOT: "Specialist Fifth Class Michael Fredric May was part of an eleven-man Special Forces team conducting a reconnaissance mission inside Cambodia in 1969 when the team was attacked and he was killed. He entered the United States Army in 1967 after attending Western Michigan University for two years. He was an outstanding Vassar High School athlete, excelling in basketball, football, and track. His remains were not recovered. He was 22 years old. Marine Corporal Christopher E. Esckelson of Vassar was killed during a firefight in Iraq December 28, 2006 after taking a direct hit to his flak jacket. He was serving with the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine regiment. He joined the Marine Corps in October, 2002 after graduating from Vassar High School, where he was a three-sport athlete. He was 22 years old."
  • Army Sergeant First Class Michael Cathcart Memorial Highway – "The portion of highway M-15 beginning at the intersection of M-15 and Cass Avenue Road in Portsmouth Charter Township and extending north to the intersection of M-15 and Ridge Road in the city of Bay City..." From the Michigan Legislature: "On November 14, 2014, Sergeant First Class Michael A. Cathcart suffered fatal injuries in a small arms skirmish during a dismounted combat operation in the Kunduz Province of Afghanistan. He was 31 years old. Cathcart was highly decorated; his decorations included three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart Medal, and four Army Commendation Medals."
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