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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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Former M-76 Route Marker On to Next Route:
M-76 is a former state trunkline route existing from January 17, 1914 until November 1, 1973.
Western Terminus*:    US-23 southwest of Standish in southern Arenac Co (at present-day jct I-75 & US-23 at Exit 188)
Eastern Terminus*:   Jct I-75 & US-27 six miles south of Grayling at present-day Exit 249)
Final Length: 61.2 miles*
Maps: New! 2024-06 Route Maps of Former M-76
Notes: * The termini and final length for M-76 reflect the beginning and ending of the route and its length as of the time of the route's decommissioning in 1973.
  M-76 is best known today by those that remember it as the Standish–to–south-of-Grayling route that was slowly converted to freeway before being replaced by I-75 in the early 1970s. Indeed, the last segment of I-75 to be completed and opened to traffic in the entire state of Michigan was the portion between West Branch and Roscommon, which was originally part of the M-76 route. Once I-75 completely supplanted the M-76 designation in 1973, that route number has not been re-used since on any highway in the state. The history of M-76, however, dates back to the second year of the state trunkline highway system, itself intially laid out starting in 1913, and connected the Standish, West Branch, Saint Helen, and Roscommon areas through almost all of its existence. In the 1930s, M-76 was extended west from Grayling to Kalkaska and a far-flung, disconnected segment was even commissioned in the Leelanau Peninsula west of Traverse City, with the assumption that it would someday also bridge the gap between Traverse City and Kalkaska as well. (The Grayling-to-Empire segment, instead, became part of an extended M-72.) It was the scaled-back version of M-76 that ended up being designated as the eventual route for I-75 in the late 1950s and was finally replaced by it in 1973.
History: 1914 (Jan 7) – An 8.8-mile state trunkline highway route is officially designated in western Ogemaw Co beginning on the western city limit of West Branch and proceeding for a mile along West Branch Rd (present-day M-55/BL I-75), then northerly via Gray Rd to the Michigan Central RR, then northwesterly parallel to the railroad on the north side (along a roadway either never actually constructed or one that has been long since abandoned) and then Saint Helen Tr, then westerly via Ogemaw Rd-Saginaw St, northerly on Beaver Lake Tr back to the railroad, and northwesterly parallel to the tracks via Airport Rd to the Ogemaw/Roscommon Co line, where the trunkline route terminates. This trunkline is assigned the designation of T.L. 76 (Trunk Line 76).
  1916 (May 23) – An additional 11.2 miles of state trunkline are officially established in Ogemaw Co, beginning on the northeast corner of West Branch and continuing northeasterly via State Rd to Campbells Corners, then easterly along State Rd to a terminus at Henderson Lake Rd. This new segment of trunkline becomes part of T.L. 76.
  1917 (Jan 24) – A 2.2-mile long continuation of the trunkline route for T.L. 76 established in Ogemaw Co west of West Branch in 1914 is officially assumed into the state trunkline system from the Ogemaw/Roscommon Co line southeast of Saint Helen and continuing parallel to the Michigan Central Railroad line (on the north side) into Saint Helen. There, an additional 18.2 miles of new trunkline designated as T.L. 76 are established heading northerly along Saint Helen Rd, then westerly via Au Sable Rd, northerly again on Keno Rd, then turning westerly to follow the county line on Silsby Rd before curving southwesterly into downtown Roscommon where it now terminates at T.L. 18.
  1917 (May 26) – Another 12.0 miles of state trunkline mileage is added onto the eastern end of T.L. 76 in Ogemaw Co, heading southerly from State Rd along Henderson Lake Rd, then easterly via Tawas Rd (present-day M-55), southerly again on Clark Rd, then easterly through Prescott via Harrison Rd, terminating at T.L. 70 (later M-70) at the cnr of Harrison Rd & Sage Lake Rd.
  1917–1919 – At some point in 1917, 1918 or 1919, the southernmost 21 miles of T.L. 70 from Prescott in Ogemaw Co southerly to T.L. 10 in Standish in Arenac Co is redesignated as a southern extension of T.L. 76. The new route for T.L. 76 from Prescott runs along Sage Lake Rd, Briggs Rd, westerly via Maple Ridge Rd, southerly on Reed Rd, westerly via Main Street Rd, southerly again along Melita Rd into Sterling, then southeasterly via present-day Old M-76, easterly along Wyatt Rd, then southerly on Grove Street Rd into Standish to its terminus at T.L. 10.
  1919 (July 1) – T.L. 76 is signed in the field as M-76 as all state trunkline highways in Michigan are signed with route markers.
  1919 (Nov 18) – A 7.8-mile segment of new trunkline highway route designated as part of M-76 is established in eastern Roscommon and wetern Ogemaw Cos. Beginning at Gray Rd about a mile west of West Branch, the new route runs westerly via Tawas Rd for 3 miles, north along Dobson Rd for a mile, then westerly and northwesterly along roads which may have never been fully constructed to a point where M-76 turns due northerly toward Saint Helen (at the present-day cnr of West Branch Rd & Saint Helen Rd/Old M-76). There, M-76 continues due northerly along Saint Helen Rd for 4¾ miles back to its former alignment in Saint Helen. The 10.0-mile long former alignment, which mostly follows the New York Central Railroad line and may not have been completely constructed, is cancelled as a trunkline route and the existing portions are turned back to county control.
  1920 (Aug 10) – The route of M-76 through the City of West Branch in Ogemaw Co is established as a state trunkline routing. From M-30 on the western city limit, the route follows Houghton Ave easterly through downtown, then turns northerly along 1st St for two blocks before turning northeasterly via State St to the eastern city limit at Fairview Rd. It is asumed this segment of roadway has been signed as part of M-76, but is now officially under the jurisdiction of the State Highway Dept.
  1925 (Sept 1) – A major alteration to the route of M-76 occurs when a much more direct alignment between Sterling and West Branch, via Alger and Greenwood, is officially assumed into the state trunkline system and likely opens to traffic about the same time. The new 20.0-mile long route for M-76 begins in Sterling and continues northwesterly along present-day Old M-76 alongside the Michigan Central (later New York Central and Penn Central, now Detroit & Mackinac) railroad line through the hamlets of Alger and Greenwood, to just south of Airport Rd. There, the new M-76 route continues parallel to the railroad via Refinery Rd into West Branch before turning northerly along Valley St then westerly along Houghton St back to the existing route of M-76 at the corner of 1st St. The former circuitous route of M-76 from West Branch through central Ogemaw Co to Prescott is redesignated as an extension of M-55 (which also takes over the route of M-70 from Prescott to Whittemore), while the former M-76 from Prescott southerly to Standish becomes a new routing for M-70. Additionally, the M-55 designation is added to the route of M-76 from West Branch westerly to the cnr of West Branch Rd & Saint Helen Rd in eastern Roscommon Co where a new alignment for M-55 continues due westerly to the Prudenville area to connect with the existing portion of M-55 there to make one, continuous route.
  1927 (June 30) – A new 4.4-mile alignment for M-55/M-76 in eastern Roscommon and western Ogemaw Cos, beginning at the western jct of the two routes and continuing southeasterly, is established as a state trunkline highway route on this date, although State Highway Dept records state this same route was surfaced and open for traffic in 1925. The former 4.8-mile trunkline alignment—which may have never been physically constructed—is turned back to local control or, in the case of a never-built alignment, simply cancelled as a trunkline route.
  1928 (June 28) – Another major extension of the route of M-76 occurs when 24.7 miles of new trunkline mileage is added between Grayling and Kalkaska. Firstly, M-76 is extended westerly and northerly concurrently with US-27 (formerly M-14 until the previous year) from Roscommon for 16.8 miles through downtown Grayling where it turns southwesterly concurrently with M-93 for 1.4 miles. Southwest of Grayling, the newly-established route of M-76 diverges from M-93 and proceeds generally northwesterly along a 15.5-mile, winding path that is likely unconstructed, running north of Portage Lake (now Lake Margrethe), crossing the Manistee River near the Crawford/Kalkaska Co line to the Excelsior/Bear Lake Twp line southwest of Cub Lake. From there, M-76 continues due westerly for 9.2 miles along the present-day route of M-72, to M-131 (later US-131, now M-66) south of Kalkaska, its new western terminus.
  1930 (Nov 22) – Seemingly continuing the realignment progress begun in 1925, a new 2.2-mile long rerouting of M-76 is officially established in Arenac Co along present-day Old M-76 between Wyatt Rd southeast of Sterling and US-23 in Standish. The former 3.0-mile long route along Wyatt Rd and Grove Street Rd is turned back to county control.
  1931 (Apr 27) – A new 3.07-mile long realignment for M-76 is established as a state trunkline route in the West Branch area when ¼ mile of Houghton Ave from Valley St easterly to Tawas Rd & Alger Rd and Alger Rd from Houghton Ave/Tawas Rd southeasterly back to the existing route of M-76 south of Airport Rd is added to the highway system. The former 2.8-mile long route along Refinery Rd and Valley St is turned back to county and city control.
  1931 (Aug 31) – A new 1.5-mile long curving alignment is officially established for US-27/M-76 in southern Crawford Co, eliminating two 90° turns. The new alignment veers westerly from the existing alignment north of Pioneer Rd and heads northwesterly, merging back into the existing route at Fletcher Rd. The former 2.0-mile route along Merrio Rd and Fletcher Rd is turned back to county control.
      Another new 1.7-mile long alignment for US-27/M-76 is officially added to the trunkline system in Roscommon Co, eliminating one sharper curve (and one grade crossing for US-27) in the village of Roscommon. The new route curves southerly away from the existing alignment along Federal Hwy just east of Steele-Billman Rds and runs southeasterly into Roscommon, entering town via Fifth St, ending at the existing alignment of US-27 along Lake St. The former 1.8-mile alignment along Federal Hwy, Central Dr and Main St is turned back to local control.
  1932 (Oct 29) – When officially established as a state trunkline route in 1928, the portion of M-76 from M-93 west of Grayling westerly into Kalkaska Co to the Excelsior/Bear Lake Twp line near Cub Lake traveled along a rather winding path, much of which seems to have never been actually built or opened as a functional state highway. On this date, the 15.5 miles of that winding path are cancelled as a state trunkline highway route and the portions of it which are phyiscally constructed are turned back to local control. Simultaneously, a new path for M-76 is officially established running 13.9 miles on a more direct alignment following the present-day M-72.
  1935 (Jan 7) – More than 36 miles west of Kalkaska, a new 22.0-mile long state trunkline route is established spanning the southernmost portion of Leelanau Co, from M-22 in Empire easterly to M-22 at the northwest corner of Traverse City At this point, only the westernmost 7.4 miles of the route from Empire easterly to Fritz Rd is actually signed as M-76 and maintained as a state highway, while the remaining 14.6 miles from Fritz Rd easterly to Traverse City is officially established but not completed or signed in the field. M-76 is now a two-segment, discontinuous route (Empire–Traverse City and Kalkaska–Standish).
  1940 (Nov 12) – A major change comes to M-76 when all of the route from Grayling westerly to Kalkaska and from Traverse City westerly to Empire is redesignated as a western extension of M-72. The concurrent M-76 routing along US-27 from downtown Roscommon to downtown Grayling is also likely removed, scaling back the northern terminus of M-76 to end at US-27 in downtown Roscommon.
  1949 (July 3) – The length of M-76 increases by 9.8 miles as a result of the completion and opening of the US-27 westerly bypass of Houghton and Higgins Lakes on this date. US-27, which had formerly traveled around the south, east and northeast sides of the lakes, now passes to the west of the lakes on a new highway constructed in 1940–41 and 1946–49. M-55 now runs solely along the southern leg where it had formerly run jointly with US-27, M-18 is extended northerly from Prudenville to Roscommon to take over the eastern leg of the former US-27 route in the area, while M-76 is extended from jct M-18 & M-144 in downtown Roscommon along the former US-27 (present-day Federal Rd and S Grayling Hwy) for 9.8 miles to a new terminus where the new US-27 route merges into the former route, approximately six miles south of Grayling.
  1949 (Late) – While not officially established as a state trunkline highway route, the relocation of M-76 on a new, 12.57-long direct alignment between Saint Helen and Roscommon in Roscommon Co, paralleling the Michigan Central (New York Central) Railroad line is completed as a gravel-surfaced highway and opened to traffic by the end of the year. This new alignment shortens the length of M-76 by 7.83 miles. The former route of M-76 from Saint Helen northerly via St Helen Rd, westerly along Au Sable Rd, northerly on Keno Rd, and westerly via Silsby Rd to M-144/Forester Rd is temporarily retained as an unsigned state trunkline for the time being. The former M-76 from that point westerly into Roscommon becomes a southwesterly extension of M-144.
      Also occuring around this timeframe (or early 1950), M-18 is extended from its new northern terminus at jct M-76 & M-144 in downtown Roscommon concurrently with M-76 westerly and northerly to a new joint northern terminus with M-76 at US-27 approximately six miles south of Grayling.
  1950 (July 20) – The new, direct M-76 realignment between Saint Helen and Roscommon in northeastern Roscommon Co is closed to through traffic during the spring and part of the summer so it can be paved. Traffic is detoured both via the former route of M-76 (north from Saint Helen via St Helen Rd to Au Sable Rd to Keno Rd to Silsby Rd to M-144 into Roscommon) or westerly via M-55 to M-157 northerly to M-18 into Roscommon. In mid-July, the paving of the new highway is completed and M-76 is opened to traffic again between Saint Helen and Roscommon and the entire route of M-76 is now hard-surfaced throughout.
  1950 (Nov 3) – The new alignment of M-76 between Saint Helen and Roscommon in Roscommon Co which has been open to traffic for the past year is now officially established as a state trunkline highway. The former route of M-76 remains as an unsigned state trunkline route until the next year.
  1951 (July 2) – The 11.8 miles of former M-76 in Roscommon Co between Saint Helen and the cnr of Silsby Rd & M-144/Forester Rd on the Roscommon/Crawford Co line is now cancelled as a state trunkline route and turned back to county control, after being replaced by the direct route between Saint Helen and Roscommon two years prior.
  1961 (Dec 4) – With the completion of the new US-27 expressway south of Grayling, the M-18/M-76 terminus is moved northerly approximately 0.95 mile to end at a new partial interchange where the I-75 freeway becomes US-27.
  1968 (July 2) – A 17-mile segment of freeway is completed from the US-23 freeway southwest of Standish (at present-day Exit 188) to M-33 at Alger (present-day Exit 202) and is designated as a relocation of the existing parallel M-76 route. The former route of M-76 from US-23 in Standish to M-33 is retained as an unsigned state trunkline route for more than four months. While posted and designated as M-76, this new freeway is the second segment of freeway built to fill the Bay City-to-Grayling freeway gap of I-75.
  1968 (Nov 1, Nov 15) – While the M-76 freeway between US-23 southwest of Standish and M-33 at Alger in Arenac Co opened to traffic four months earlier, it is officially established as a state trunkline highway route on Nov 1. The former route of M-76 from US-23 on the north side of Standish to M-33 at Alger is transferred to county control two weeks later on Nov 15.
  M-18M-761969 (June 12) as M-18/M-76 – Although it wouldn't open to traffic for another year, the 5.95 mile segment of future M-18/M-76 freeway from jct I-75 & US-27 (present-day Exit 249) south of Grayling to existing M-18/M-76/Federal Hwy (present-day Exit 244) on the Crawford/Roscommon Co line is established as a state trunkline highway route.
  1969 (Sept 12) – Even though it wouldn't be completed and opened to traffic for another year, the 2.51 mile segment of future M-76 freeway from M-33 at Alger northwesterly to the Arenac/Ogemaw Co line is established as a state trunkline highway route.
  1970 (Oct 15–22) Updated 2023-11 – The 39.25 miles of M-76 freeway through all of Ogemaw and Roscommon Cos from south of Greenwood to west of Roscommon is officially officially established as a state trunkline highway route on October 15. The first 9½ miles of M-76 freeway to actually open to traffic, however, is the portion in Arenac and Ogemaw Cos from the northern end of the completed freeway at M-33 near Alger to Cook Rd (present-day Exit 210) south of West Branch on October 22. A new highway built on new alignment from the Cook Rd interchange back to the existing route of M-76 is constructed to carry traffic to and from the new freeway. The former route of M-76 between Alger and West Branch, however, is retained as an unsigned state trunkline route for the time being.
  M-18M-761970 (Nov 18) as M-18/M-76 – A short segment of M-18/M-76 freeway opens from the I-75-to-US-27 transition (between Higgins Lake and Grayling; present-day Exit 249) southeasterly to existing M-18/M-76/Federal Hwy interchange (present-day Exit 244) west of the village of Roscommon. The 7.11 miles of former M-18/M-76 along S Grayling Hwy and Federal Hwy from the jct of I-75 & US-27 & M-18/M-76 south of Grayling southerly and easterly to the new segment of the M-18/M-76 (future I-75) freeway west of Roscommon is turned back to county control.
  1971 as ? – A short section of freeway opens from the the south end of the short segment of M-18/M-76 freeway completed in 1970 west of Roscommon to M-18 south of town (from present-day Exit 244 to Exit 239). The project costs $2.58 million to construct. It is unclear if this portion between M-18/M-76 west of town and M-18 south of town is designated as M-76, M-18, "TO M-18" or what. The Official Michigan Highway Maps of the time show M-18/M-76 being retained on the "through-town" routing, with no indication of what the freeway may have been designated.
  1971 (Oct 18) – The 9.45 miles of OLD M-76 bypassed by what is now the I-75 freeway between M-33 at Alger in Arenac Co northwesterly to BL I-75 southeast of West Branch in Ogemaw Co is turned back to local control, one year after the freeway which made the route redundant was opened to traffic.
  1972 – From the northern end of the completed M-76 freeway in Ogemaw Co at Cook Rd south of West Branch to M-55/M-76 west of downtown West Branch, an extension of the freeway bypassing the city is opened to traffic. The former route of M-76 from the Cook Rd interchange into West Branch becomes a newly-designated BUS M-76. Also, the formerly concurrent M-55/M-76 through downtown becomes M-55/BUS M-76.
  I-751973 (Nov 1) as I-75 – The final 25 miles of M-76 freeway are completed from M-55 on the west side of West Branch to M-18 south of Roscommon. The freeway, however, opens to traffic as a completed I-75. The entire M-76 designation is "decommissioned" with I-75 supplanting it. Along the Bay City-to-Standish route of the US-23 freeway, I-75 joins as a concurrent designation. The M-18 routing, formerly running via the M-76 freeway northwest of Roscommon, is transferred onto M-144, supplanting that route entirely. BUS M-76 through downtown West Branch is completely redesignated as BL I-75. Also, M-55 joins I-75 as a concurrent designation between Exits 215 & 227. In the Roscommon area, a new BL I-75 routing begins at present-day Exit 239 and runs concurrently with M-18 into downtown Roscommon, then turns westerly to run via the former M-18/M-76 back to I-75 at present-day Exit 244. The former routing of M-76 from West Branch to Roscommon via St Helen is retained as an unsigned state trunkline (as "OLD M-76"). In addition, the "TO I-75" designation is removed from US-10 and US-27 (from Bay City via Midland and Clare to Higgins Lake) with the completion of I-75. As of this date, M-76 ceases to exist as a state trunkline designation in Michigan.
  1986 (Oct 31) Updated 2024-01 – The 17.698-mile long segment of OLD M-76 from OLD M-55/West Branch Rd south of St Helen northerly to St Helen then northwesterly into downtown Roscommon is cancelled as a state trunkline route and turned back to county control. The 0.719-mile segment from jct BL I-75 & M-18 downtown Roscommon southeasterly to the village limit is known as Fifth St, while the portion between Roscommon and St Helen is named "Old M-76" and the portion from St Helen southerly to OLD M-55 is named St Helen Rd. The entire route also remains designated as Roscommon CR OLD-76.
Controlled Access: At the end of its existence in 1973, two segments of M-76 existed as freeway:
  1. From the southern terminus of M-76 at US-23 at present-day Exit 188 southwest of Standish to jct M-55/BUS M-76 on the west side of West Branch at present-day Exit 215. (27.0 miles)
  2. From M-18/M-76/Federal Hwy at present-day Exit 244 west of Roscommon to the northern terminus of M-18/M-76 at jct I-75 & US-27 six miles south of downtown Grayling. (5.8 miles)
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