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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-63 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Terminus:    M-139 (formerly US-31) in Scottdale, south of St Joseph
Northern Terminus:   I-196/US-31 at Exit 7 near Hagar Shores, 3 miles north of Riverside
Length: 16.255 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-63
Notes: All of M-63 was formerly a part of US-33, being designated as such when US-33 was truncated at US-12 south of Niles in 1986.
  The M-63 route designation was anticipated to take the place of the US-31 designation between Scottdale and Berrien Springs when the new US-31 Freeway was completed north of Berrien Springs. However, in 2003 when the next segment of the freeway was opened to traffic, it was M-139 that was extended southerly instead. Several internal MDOT documents and maps, as well as one generally-trustworthy commercial map of the area, concurred with this anticipation. It can be safely assumed MDOT's own planned "improvements" at Scottdale, where M-63 (soon after being redesignated from US-33) was realigned to meet then-US-31 at a 90° intersection instead of the shallow angle they had previously. Thus, if M-63 had been extended via the former US-31 to Berrien Springs, it would have to make a 90° turn through the signalized intersection, whereas by making it an extension of M-139, the "through route" retains the same designation.
  In 2001–02, MDOT sunk $16 million into an ambitious project to rehabilitate and upgrade the route of M-63 from the Blossomland Bridge in St Joseph northerly through the Klock Rd interchange. The 1,700-foot long "Whirlpool Bridge," spanning a former Whirlpool (the appliance company) facility, was removed and replaced with a shorter 300-foot bridge over a railroad track there and the complicated Klock Rd interchange was similarly replaced with an at-grade, signalized intersection. The Klock Rd interchange and the limited-access expressway status of M-63 north of St Joseph were a legacy from when this highway, designated US-31, was the primary route north from St Joseph to Holland, Grand Rapids and Muskegon. After these improvements had been made in the mid-1950s, the decision was made to route US-31 around St Joseph via I-94 and I-96 (now I-196), relegating this segment of what is now M-63 to a lower status. The Klock Rd interchange was also a remnant of a proposal which never came to fruition—that of the Waukonda-Klock Expressway running across the north side of Benton Harbor. The costs of maintaining the interchange combined with the lower traffic counts along M-63 signaled its demise. ( See Klock Rd Interchange Animation for an animated composite image of three years' aerial photographs of the former interchange.)
  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 what was then M-63 during that timeframe: get rid of it. In 1960, M-63 still connected M-37 and US-131 in Lake and Osceola Cos and the planners suggested all of M-63 be transferred back to local control and cease to be a state trunkline route. One year later, the State Highway Dept did just that and M-63 as a state highway route would remain absent from the system for 25 years.
History: 1917 (May 24) – 18.4 miles of new state trunkline route is officially established in Lake Co in two segments, separated by the Village of Luther, and not connecting with any other existing designated state trunkline route. The route begins at the Osceola/Lake Co line 6.5 road miles east of Luther and proceeds westerly along present-day Old M-63 to the eastern limit of the Village of Luther where the first segment ends. The second segment begins at the northwestern corner of the Village of Luther and proceeds westerly then northerly via present-day Old M-63, then continues northerly along Kings Hwy, westerly on 10 Mile Rd, then northerly via Nelson Rd, ending at the Lake/Wexford Co line 11.9 road miles northwest of Luther. This new trunkline is designated as T.L. 63.
  1919 (June 25) – T.L. 63 is extended easterly into Osceola Co and now finally connects with another designated state trunkline route. Beginning at the route's eastern end, T.L. 63 runs easterly via 14 Mile Rd for 2.8 miles to a new terminus at T.L. 13 (future M-13, later US-131) between Ashton and LeRoy.
  1919 (July 1) – T.L. 63 is signed in the field as M-63 as all state trunkline highways in Michigan are signed with route markers. The gap in the route within the Village of Luther is signed as M-63 but is not officially under state jurisdiction at this point.
  1919 (Aug 25) – A major rerouting of M-63 in northern Lake Co occurs when the 9.7 miles of state trunkline running along Kings Hwy from 5 Mile Rd northerly to 10 Mile Rd, then westerly along 10 Mile and northerly again along Nelson Rd to the Lake/Wexford Co line is cancelled as a trunkline highway and turned back to local control. At the same time a 9.5-mile route along present-day Old M-63 westerly from Kings Hwy, southerly for ¾ mile along present-day M-37, then westerly again along 4 Mile Rd to a terminus at the Pere Marquette RR in the community of Peacock is officially assumed into the state trunkline highway system as a westerly extension of M-63.
  1921 (Mar 10) – The route of M-63 through the Village of Luther—signed as such for the past two years but remaining under village maintenance—is transferred to state control as an official trunkline highway segment. It enters the village from the east and follows Front St west, State St northerly through downtown, then turns west along Ash St, north along Chase St, west on Baldwin St, then northerly and westerly to the northwesternmost corner of the village where the previously-established trunkline route resumes.
  1929 (Dec 8) – A 14.7-mile long route is officially established as a state trunkline highway in Osceola Co along 20 Mile Rd from US-131/Mackinaw Trl just east of Tustin to M-66/Mill St in downtown Marion. It is initially designated as M-143, although at some point in the next several months (likely before any route markers are erected in the field), the designation of this route is changed to be come an eastern extension of M-63. To connect the new segment of M-63 with the existing one to the southwest, the M-63 route designation is added to US-131 between the former eastern terminus of M-63 southwest of LeRoy and the beginning of the newly-added segment at Tustin. (Initially, the posted route of M-63 between Tustin and Marion along 20 Mile Rd turns southerly at 140th Ave to run one mile to 19 Mile Rd, then runs easterly along 19 Mile Rd for 6 miles, before turning northerly via 80th Ave for one mile back to 20 Mile Rd, where M-63 continues easterly to Marion. This detour via 140th–19 Mile–80th is only a "Marked and Maintained" routing, not the officially established route.)
  1930 – Until now, the joint US-131/M-63 route west and south of the Village of LeRoy in Osceola Co has followed LeRoy Rd westerly then southerly via 210th Ave to the south jct of US-131 & M-63, where M-63 continues westerly via 14 Mile Rd and US-131 continues southerly via 210th Ave. On May 21, 1928, however, a new angling alignment for US-131 had been established as a state trunkline routing running along present-day Mackinaw Trl, although the new alignment had not yet been constructed. When M-63 was extended northerly via US-131 in late 1929, it (and US-131) continued to use the 210th Ave–LeRoy Rd route until the new angling route directly into LeRoy is opened to traffic in 1930. Interestingly, while 210th Ave (the former US-131/M-63) north of M-63/14 Mile Rd was cancelled in 1928, the segment of US-131 to the south was not. This results in M-63 entering Osceola Co from the west via 14 Mile Rd, then turning southerly via 210th Ave for ½ mile to the new Mackinaw Trl intersection, then heading back northeasterly along with US-131 toward LeRoy. This awkward routing would be rectified within a year.
  1931 (June 19–July 15) – The awkward east-south-northeast route of M-63 at the southern US-131 jct is rectified with the 0.4 mile of 14 Mile Rd between 210th Ave (formerly US-131) and US-131/Mackinaw Trl is approved by the State Administrative Board to be added as astate trunkline highway as part of an overall addition of 30 miles of roadway to the system on June 19. The official establishment comes less than a month later on July 15. M-63 now continues due easterly along 14 Mile Rd to Mackinaw Trl where it turns northeasterly concurrently with US-131 toward LeRoy. 210th Ave between M-63/14 Mile Rd and US-131/Mackinaw Trl is retained as a state trunkline highway which would be given its own route designation—M-179—by 1935, although it may be signed as such at this point.
  1931 (Aug 31) – A 22.0-mile long state trunkline highway routing is officially established beginning at the eastern terminus of M-63 (as designated in 1929) at M-66/Mill St in downtown Marion in Osceola Co and continuing easterly via 20 Mile Rd, then Long Lake Rd into Clare Co, then southerly via Twin Lakes Ave into Temple, then easterly via Temple Dr and Main St to downtown Harrison at US-27/First St. This new trunkline mileage is initially designated as an easterly extension of the route of M-63, but is quickly changed to become a discontinuous portion of M-61, which also supplants the 1929 extension of M-63 along the Marion-to-Tustin routing as well. (It is not clear if M-63 was ever posted along the Marion-to-Harrison trunkline route.) M-61 now exists as two segments—from Tustin through Marion and Temple to Harrison and from Gladwin to Standish—while M-63 is scaled back to end at its jct with US-131 southwest of LeRoy.
  1932 (Oct 29) – The route of M-63 in the Village of Luther is moved onto a new state trunkline alignment assumed into the system beginning at State St between Pine & Oak Sts and arcing northwesterly through the northwestern quarter of the village, merging back into the existing route just west of the village limit. The former route along State St from the new alignment to Ash St, Ash St from State to Chase, Chase St from Ash to Baldwin, and Baldwin St westerly and northerly from Chase St is transferred to village jurisdiction, while the part of the former route of M-63 north of the highway alignment is obliterated as a public roadway.
  1935 – At the eastern end of the route, the connector between M-63 and US-131 along 210th Ave between 14 Mie Rd and Mackinaw Trl is now shown on official state highway maps as M-179.
  1938 (Dec 6) – The westernmost 2.3-mile "spur" of M-63 from M-37 north of Wolf Lake westerly to the community of Peacock is cancelled as a state trunkline highway and transferred to county control. The overall route of M-63 is shortened by 3 miles with a new western terminus at the northern end of the completed portion of M-37. M-37 and M-63 now form an "L-shaped" route, with the two routes terminating at each other north of Wolf Lake.
  1947–48 – With the completion of M-37 northerly from Lake Co into Wexford Co, M-63 no longer terminates on its western end in the unique 90° curve into M-37. M-63 now ends at a standard ⊤-intersection with M-37.
  1958 (Sept 16)M-179, the short 0.5-mile connector route between US-131 and M-63 between Ashton and LeRoy, finally meets its maker and is cancelled as a state trunkline and turned back to local control.
  1960 – The last few miles of gravel-surfaced M-63 are hard-surfaced, east of Luther.
  1961 (Sept 25) – The first iteration of M-63 in Michigan comes to an end as the entire route from M-37 to US-131 is cancelled as a state trunkline routing and turned back to county and village jurisdiction. This comes, ironically, just one year after the State Highway Dept completes the paving of the route—possibly as a condition of its transfer.
  1986 (Aug 25) – The second incarnation of M-63 begins when US-33 is drastically scaled back from north of Coloma to end at jct US-31 & BUS US-12 in downtown Niles. The former US-31/US-33 between Niles and Scottdale becomes solely US-31 and all of the ex-US-33 between Scottdale and I-196/US-31 at Exit 7 north of Coloma is redesignated as M-63. While the changeover from US-33 is made official on this date, it's unclear precisely when the route markers themselves are changed, although it appears to be around this same time.
  1987 (May 15) New! 2023-10 – The 0.173 mile segment of Miners Rd at Scottdale in central Berrien Co between US-31 (present-day M-139) and existing M-63/Niles Ave is established as a state trunkline highway route and transferred from county control. MDOT is realigning M-63 to meet up with US-31 at a 90° angle instead of at the acute angle the two routes presently meet up at. Miners Rd is reconstructed and the western end is realigned to flow directly into Niles Ave as it heads northwesterly toward St Joseph.
  1988 (Mar 28) New! 2023-10 – In a bit less than a year from the transfer of Miners Rd at Scottdale in central Berrien Co to act as a new lead-in to the southern terminus of M-63, the former 0.218-mile long route of M-63 along Niles Ave from the realigned M-63 at Miners Rd southeasterly to US-31 is cancelled as a state trunkline route and turned back to county control.
  2001–02 – The complete removal of the Klock Rd interchange as well as the Whirlpool viaduct north of St Joseph occurs. Please see the third note above in the "Notes" section for details. ( See Klock Rd Interchange Animation for an animated composite image of three years' aerial photographs of the former interchange.)
  2016 (July 25) – The West Michigan Pike Historic Byway is officially unveiled at a ceremony in Muskegon's Heritage Park. Running from the Indiana state line south of New Buffalo up Michigan's west coast to Ludington, the Byway runs along the segment of M-63 from the southern jct of BL I-94 in St. Joseph to M-63's northern terminus at I-196/US-31.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-63 exists as freeway.
  M-63 is a limited-access expressway from the Blossomland Bridge on the north edge of downtown St Joseph to Enterprise Dr–Rocky Gap Rd north of Benton Harbor. (2.0 miles)
NHS: The portion of M-63 from M-139 in Scottdale to the northern jct of BL I-94 in downtown St Joseph is on the National Highway System (NHS). (5.8 miles)
Circle Tour: Lake Michigan Circle Tour MarkerLake Michigan Circle Tour: From the southern jct of BL I-94 in St. Joseph to the northern terminus at I-196/US-31.
Pure Michigan Byway: Historic Heritage Route MarkerWest Michigan Pike Historic Byway: From the southern jct of BL I-94 in St. Joseph to the northern terminus at I-196/US-31.
Memorial Highway: The following Memorial Highway designation has been officially assigned to part of M-63 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Harry Gast Parkway – "The portion of highway M-63 in Berrien county beginning at the intersection of M-63 and the Blossomland bridge and continuing north until the intersection of M-63 and Klock Road..." From MDOT: "Gast grew up in Berrien County and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1938. He became a farmer in Lincoln Township and got involved in local politics in the 1950s, serving as Lincoln Township treasurer for 18 years, including a stint as township supervisor and president of the Evens Schools board. He served his first term as a state representative in 1970 and was elected to three subsequent terms. In 1978, he was elected to the state Senate. He was elected again in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994. He served as the chair of the appropriations committee for 19 years, and has been lauded many times for his fairness and loyalty to his constituents. Gast died on July 30, 2015 at the age of 94."
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