Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-22 Route Marker  M-22 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Terminus:    US-31 five miles northeast of Manistee
Northern Terminus:    Jct US-31/M-37 & M-22/M-72 (cnr Grandview Pkwy & Division St) in Traverse City
Length: Updated 116.613 miles
Map: New! Route Map of M-22
Notes: M-22 is one of a handful of Michigan state highways which have a pronounced change in direction at some point along their route. In this route's case, the change in direction occurs at Northport, at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan's "Little Finger." M-22 approaches Northport from the Leland area on the south, comes to a "T" intersection at M-201's southern terminus, makes a hard right, and continues southerly toward Suttons Bay and Traverse City. Unlike some of Michigan's other "direction changing highways," M-22 does not have any signage indicating the change. In fact, in most of Leelanau Co, cardinal direction plates are not used in M-22 assemblies, for obvious reason.
  According to Michigan State Highway Dept maps and sources from the 1930s, the department originally planned a "lakeshore alignment" for M-22 from CR-604/Glovers Lake Rd at Arcadia into CR-606/Grace Rd just south of Elberta. The shoreline route would have run between Lake Michigan and Lower Herring Lake as well, though several miles of sand dunes. Just over two miles of this shoreline route were graded out from Arcadia northerly to the Manistee/Benzie Co line before the plan was apparently halted for several years. By the mid-1940s, however, the plan for the shoreline route between Arcadia and Elberta was still in place, and an additional proposed shoreline route had been added from Point Betsie northeasterly along the Lake Michigan shore, merging back with the existing M-22 alignment at the Benzie/Leelanau Co line south of Empire. While not certain, it can be assumed these shoreline routings for M-22 were dropped in the 1950s, and M-22 continues to run generally along its 1930s alignment in Benzie Co. Additional evidence that the State Highway Dept had plans to relocate these two segments of M-22 as they were two of the last three gravel-surfaced stretches of the highway.
  Updated Approximately 58½ miles of M-22 in Leelanau Co, from Empire at M-72 northerly for 2.1 miles to M-109 and from Glen Arbor at M-109 for 56½ miles through Leland, Northport and Suttons Bay to M-72 at Traverse City, (along with M-109 and M-204) have been designated as a Scenic Heritage Route and is now officially designated as the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route. The Heritage Route Committee works to protect the natural and rural landscape with its many vistas and open spaces such as the orchards, vineyards, fields, hills, valleys, forests, waterways, and the historic and recreational attributes. The Committee members include representatives from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Leelanau County, each township and village, MDOT, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, organizations, and local citizens.
  New! Approximately 49½ miles of M-22 in Manistee and Benzie Counties, from the southern terminus of M-22 at US-31 northeast of Manistee to the Benzie/Leelanau Co line, have been designated as a Pure Michigan Byway as the M-22 Benzie Manistee Pure Michigan Byway. The M-22 Benzie-Manistee Pure Michigan Byway Nominating Team and Committee is comprised of representatives from local governing bodies and civic and non-profit groups, and works in cooperation with MDOT, and with assistance from other agencies and organizations. Networks Northwest supported the process of the plan’s development.
  Updated In 2012, the M-22 route marker became the center of a legal and financial debate over whether a business can trademark a specific state highway route marker and prevent others from selling merchandise with the depiction of any other state highway route on it, not just the original one trademarked. In 2003, Matt and Keegan Myers began making and selling t-shirts and stickers featuring a close approximation of the M-22 route marker (they don't utilize the actual FHWA typeface for the numerals "22") and started using the slogan, "M-22 is not just a road; it is a way of life." They claimed it is "marked by the simplicity and appreciation for natural wonders such as bays, beaches and bonfires, dunes and vineyards, cottages, friends and family everywhere."
     Soon after Keegan was featured on the cover of Traverse magazine wearing one of the brothers' M-22 t-shirts in 2006, sales of the shirts and stickers bearing the M-22 route marker started taking off. Soon, the pair began working with other retailers in Leelanau Co to produce additional apparel and accessory lines, including coffee and an M-22 brand of wine. An M-22 "company store" was opened in November 2007 in downtown Traverse City as well and the brothers filed for trademark protection for their M-22 logo in 2010 to further support the branding effort. Meanwhile, Heidi Marshall and Mary Roberts of Route Scouts, LLC in Harbor Springs started making souvenirs using the M-119 route marker and even tried to trademark it. Their effort failed when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the application when it responded that it was 'too similar to the M22 registered trademark."
     State Representative Frank Foster of Petoskey then requested State Attorney General Bill Schuette "whether a private entity can claim exclusive control over a state highway route marker design" for merchandise use. The Attorney General issued Opinion No.7265 on May 29, 2012, stating, "No entity can lawfully claim exclusive control over use of the State’s highway route marker design because the design is in the public domain and is otherwise not subject to protection under trademark law." In his opinion the Attorney General even referenced the Michigan Highways website, noting in the footnotes: "Michigan organized its highway system by number in 1919, using the design of a white diamond containing a black letter “M” at the top with the assigned highway number below. For additional in-depth historical analysis, see Michigan Highways: The Great Routes of the Great Lakes State <http://www.michiganhighways.org>." While the Myers brothers vowed to "fight on" in their trademark battle, additional state highway route marker-themed merchandise has since popped up, including M-185 ("No Cars Allowed"), M-77, M-37, M-168, and others.
     A new salvo in the M-22 trademark war appeared in September 2016 when the State of Michigan brought suit against M22 LLC, the Meyers brothers firm making and selling the M-22-themed merchandise from their shop in Glen Arbor. The State claims M22 LLC is violating state and federal law by trademarking a route marker, which it claims isn't allowed, as well as making the markers "non-compliant" with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Although M22 LLC's version of the M-22 marker doesn't use the correct FHWA typeface for the "2" digits, it's unclear if that makes a difference in either sides' case.
  New! A direct comparison of the three representations of the M-22 route marker:
M-22 signs and logo comparison
Left: The "M-22" product logo trademarked by M22 LLC (used here under fair use provisions).
Center: The acutal M-22 route marker used along the highway since the early 1970s.
Right: The "M-less" 22 route marker which MDOT began installing in August 2016.
  New! Starting in 2016, MDOT introduced a "tweaked" version of the M-22 route marker and began posting them in certain areas along the route. In the first decade after the Myers' "M-22" logo merchandise became popular, the number of M-22 route markers being stolen from the side of the highway began to increase. In a three-year period, according to MDOT spokesman James Lake, the department had to replace approximately 90 signs which had been swiped. With each marker costing $325 to manufacture and install—a total of more than $29,000 over that period—the department felt it necessary to modify the signs, by removing the iconic "M", hoping it would deter theives from taking the signs. Lake, the MDOT spokesman, noted, "We are not changing the design of the M-22 route marker overall, nor replacing all of the route marker signs, but have been placing the modified '22' signs in locations where theft has been a problem and the original sign was stolen."
  New! On October 2, 2015, USA Today announced M-22 had topped its Reader's Choice Award listing of top Best Scenic Autumn Drives. "The M-22 route along Lake Michigan is one of America's most beautiful tours, and it gets even better in the fall," USA Today noted. "This 116-mile road brings visitors through the peaceful countryside and along the shore, past small businesses, wineries, galleries and, of course, countless colorful trees. Visitors can stop and visit points of interest along the way and meet some locals, making this fall leaves trip a little bit wildlife and a little bit small town, all in one." Nineteen other roadways were in the running, including the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire, Virginia's Skyline Drive, the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon, and Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana. (Links to several news stories are available below in the "Weblinks" section.)
  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 somewhat major change to the route of M-22 during that timeframe. The maps denoted, among many other things, segments of state trunkline routes identified as candidates to be possibly turned back to local control. The only change of any kind recommended for M-22 on these maps was the jurisdictional transfer of the potion of M-22 between the two junctions with M-109 (northeast of Empire and in Glen Arbor). The assumption is that all of M-109 would then be redesignated as the route of M-22. Of course, this change was never implemented in the five-plus decades since the maps were issued.
History: 1920 The early route of M-22 is very close to the present-day routing of the highway, although in 1920, M-22 begins in Manistee and runs concurrently with M-11 (now US-31) for several miles before setting out on its own course. M-22 also uses the modern-day M-109 route between Empire and Glen Arbor, as well as a more inland route from Suttons Bay to Greilickville.
  1922 M-22 is realigned onto its modern-day course from the southern end of present-day M-109 (which is not a state trukline in 1922) to Glen Arbor, including a bridge crossing the constriction in Glen Lake. The former route of M-22 (along present-day M-109) is turned back to local control. It was also during the 1920s when the southern end of M-22 was scaled back to end at M-11 (now US-31) northeast of Manistee.
  1929–30 For a few years, sources seem to indicate the Glen Lake bridge was out of service and M-22 is temporarily rerouted to run around the south and east shores of Glen Lake via Burdickville. A state-maintained M-22 spur is retained westerly into Glen Arbor. A new Glen Lake bridge is completed in 1930 and M-22 is restored to its "regular" alignment into Glen Arbor from the south at this time.
  1936 Updated The first step in realigning M-22 to run closer to the shore of the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay in southeast Leelanau Co is completed and opened to traffic. The segment begins just north of Greilickville and continues northerly along the shore of West Bay for three miles to Crain Hill Rd where M-22 cuts westerly back over to its previous inland alignment along present-day CR-633/Center Hwy. An additional 1.6 miles of new highway have also been construction along the bayshore northerly from Crain Hill Rd to the Elmwood/Bingham Twp line, although this spur is likely unsigned at this point. Furthermore, this new routing of M-22 is not yet officially determined as a state trunkline highway route nor has the former route been transferred to local control.
  1937 (Dec 29) New! The new three-mile shoreline relocation of M-22 north of Greilickville in southeastern Leelanau Co as well as the 1.6 additional "spur" to to the Elmwood/Bingham Twp line and the 0.6-mile long Crain Hill Rd cutacross route are all transferred to state control today. Likewise, the 4.3-mile long segment of former M-22 along CR-633/Cherry Bend Rd and CR-633/Center Hwy is transferred to county control.
  1942 As part of the "shoreline relocation" mentioned in the notes above, a short segment of new highway was graded from Arcadia northerly to the Manistee/Benzie Co line by the Works Progress Administration by 1939, but construction temporarily halted. That segment is finally completed in 1942, and the roadway is curved east from the northern end of the segment to meet back up with the existing M-22 alignment at Matzinger Rd in southwestern Benzie Co. The former route of M-22 along Glovers Lake and St Pierre Rds is turned back to local control.
  1945 The final gravel segment of M-22, between Leland and Northport, is paved.
  1949 (Sept 9, Nov 10) Updated The remainder of the shoreline realignment of M-22 along the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay in eastern Leelanau Co is completed and opens to traffic on September 9 at ceremonies presided over by State Hghway Commissioner Charles Ziegler. The segment begins at the northern end of the "spur" completed in 1936 at the Elmwood/Bingham Twp line and continues northerly for 8.99 miles, first along the West Bay shoreline, then turns inland to run directly to Suttons Bay where it meets the route's former alignment. Then on November 10, the 8.99 miles of new highway alignment is officially assumed as a trunkline and the 9.5 miles of the former route along CR-633/Center Hwy and 0.6 miles of Crain Hill Rd are transferred to county control while the 0.7 miles of Elm and Broadway Sts in Suttons Bay are transferred to village control.
  2002 – The Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route is officially designated a Michigan Scenic Heritage Route by the state legislature.
  2015 (Oct 2) New! As noted in the "Notes" section above, M-22 tops a USA Today Reader's Choice Award poll as the No.1 Best Scenic Autumn Drive in the United States.
  M-22 Route Marker without the M2016 (Summer) New! A "tweaked" version of the M-22 route marker—without the iconic "M" which has been part of the state trunkline route marker since 1918—is unveiled by MDOT to be used in areas where the normal M-22 markers are seeing higher rates of theft. This is due to the popularity of M-22-themed merchandise for sale in the region.
  2016 (Oct 5) New! M-22 in Manistee and Benzie Counties is officially designated as the M-22 Benzie Manistee Pure Michigan Byway and the official designation ceremony for the byway is held at the Camp Arcadia Ampitheater in Arcadia. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Alliance for Economic Success, Travel Michigan and other organizations are in attendance.
  2016–17 New! When new Pure Michigan Byway signs are erected along M-22 in Leelanau Co replacing the former Scenic Heritage Route markers, the route of the Byway itself is apparently extended southerly to begin at the Benzie/Leelanau Co line south of Empire as opposed to commencing at the M-72 jct in Empire, as all materials on the route had previously shown. Whether this is a signing error or an official extension of the Byway portion of M-22 is not clear.
Controlled-Access: No portion of M-22 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-22 is on the National Highway System (NHS).
Circle Tour: Lake Michigan Circle Tour MarkerLake Michigan Circle Tour: Entire length of M-22.
Pure Michigan
Scenic Heritage Route Marker Updated Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route: Two segments of M-22 comprise part of the byway route:
  • From the Benzie/Leelanau Co line south of Empire to the southern jct of M-109 northeast of Empire. (4.80 miles)
  • From the northern jct of M-109 in downtown Glen Arbor to M-72 at the northwestern edge of Traverse City, south of Greilickville. (56.34 miles)
  • Additionally, the entirety of M-109 and M-204 are a part of the route.
  Scenic Heritage Route Marker New! Benzie Manistee Pure Michigan Byway: The entirety of M-22 in Manistee and Benzie Counties, from the route's southern terminus at US-31 northerly through Onekama, Arcadia, Elberta and Frankfort to the Benzie/Leelanau Co line. (49.45 miles)
Memorial Highway:  New! The following Memorial Highway designation has been officially assigned to part of M-22 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Carl Oleson, Jr. Bridge – "The bridge on highway M-22 in Leelanau county between Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake..." From MDOT: "Carl Oleson, Jr owned a tackle/bait shop for many decades in Glen Arbor, alongside his wife Ruth and son Carl III."
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