Michigan Highways: Since 1997.

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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-116 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Terminus:    US-10 in downtown Ludington (cnr Ludington Ave & James St)
Northern Terminus:    Entrance to Ludington State Park, 7 miles north-northwest of downtown Ludington
Length: 7.017 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-116
Notes: This highway was constructed as the first leg in a proposed Ludington-to-Manistee shoreline route earmarked to become part of US-31 when complete. The new highway made it as far as the Big Sable River when objections by the National Park Service as well as local opposition prompted the State Highway Dept to cancel the lakeshore highway and continue to route US-31 via the existing, inland alignment. M-116 since then has served as the access highway into Ludington State Park.
  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 absolutely zero changes to the route of M-116 during that timeframe.
History: 1928 (Jun 28) – A new trunkline is established from the north city limit of Ludington north and northwesterly parallelling the Lake Michigan shoreline for 5.1 miles to the Sable River, although the roadway itself is not yet built or open to traffic.
  1931 (Jul 15) – An additional mile of trunkline is established from the southern end of the established segment of M-116 from 1928 at the Ludington city limit, southerly for 1.0 mile to the cnr of Lake Shore Dr & Ludington St. Also, Ludington St from Lake Shore Dr easterly to US-10 downtown becomes an official state trunkline due to the Dykstra Act. These 1931 segments are, at this time, the only portions of M-116 complete and open to traffic. State Highway Dept crews also install M-116 route markers along the open portion of the highway at this point as well.
  1931 (Sept 1) – A delegation of officials from the City of Ludington, led by Mayor Karl Ashbacker, goes to Lansing to meet with State Highway Commissioner Grover C. Dillman to request that M-116 be paved within the city yet this year, if not even beyond the city limits. Completion of M-116 figures greatly in local plans for the development of the "Big Sable Point state park site" (present-day Ludington State Park) and local civic leaders have raised a large amount of funds to aid in the development of the park.
  1933 (Mar 14) – A new 3.89 mile long alignment for M-116, closer to the Lake Michigan shoreline than the 1928 alignment, is officially assumed as a state trunkline highway. This route runs from Lake Shore Dr north of Jagger Rd (north of Ludington) to just south of the Sable River.
  1933 (Jul 12) – The original 5.1 mile long proposed routing for M-116, replaced by the March 14th alignment noted above, is officially cancelled. (It was never built.)
  1933 (Sept 3, 4:00pm) – A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony opening M-116 to traffic is held near the Lincoln Hills Golf Course with Congressman Harry W. Musselwhite of Manistee cutting the actual ribbon. A second ribbon-cutting ceremony is held at the northern end of the route as the celebratory caravan reaches the end following the first celebration.
  1934 (Fall) – A new bridge over the Sable River at the north end of the completed M-116 is completed, replacing an old, rustic timber bridge constructed years earlier by the coast guard to provide access to the Big Sable Lighthouse and reinforced by CCC Camp workers when the highway was opened to traffic the previous year.
  1935 (Oct 31) – A 0.23 mile extension of M-116 on its northern end is made official, encompassing the Big Sable River bridge built the previous year.
  1936 – The one-mile long route of US-31A "bypass" of Ludington via Pere Marquette Hwy from Sixth St to US-10/US-31/Ludington Ave is redesignated as part of US-31. Thus, the route of M-116 is extended easterly with US-10 via Ludington Ave to the former jct of US-10 & US-31 (cnr Ludington Ave & Washington St), then turns southerly via the former US-31 along Washington St, easterly via Second St, southerly via Madison St, then easterly via Sixth St, terminating at US-31/Pere Marquette Hwy.
  1936 (Mar 13) – Any further construction on M-116 north of the Big Sable River bridge at the entrance to Ludington State Park—and potential extension along the Lake Michigan shoreline to Manistee as a new alignment for US-31—is officially cancelled by the State Highway Dept after an annoucement the previous day by the National Park Service that any further development of the state park would be suspended in April unless the proposed highway was dropped. Apparently, routing the trunkline through the park is "in conflict with Park Service rules," leading to the decision by the Highway Dept.
  1937 (Aug 30) – The 1936 extension of M-116 through Ludington then southeasterly via the former route of US-31 is rolled back when the former US-31 routing via Washington, Second, Madison and Sixth Sts is turned back to local control. M-116 once again terminates at US-10 at the cnr of Ludington Ave & Robert St.
  1940s? – Internal State Highway Dept maps indicate an additional 6.237 miles of roadway north from the northern terminus of M-116 at the Big Sable River bridge into the Nordhouse Dunes area were to be graded and drainage structures installed, possibly as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. Work on this segment never seems to have commenced and records seem to indicate it was never officially established as a state trunkline. (The modern-day road leading to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse was not built as part of this proposed highway extension.)
  1942 (Jan 28) – The route of US-10 from downtown Ludington to the Pere Marquette Lake Michigan Carferries is changed slightly. Instead of turning southerly via Robert St, US-10 now runs one block farther west via Ludington Ave to William St, then southerly to carferry docks. Thus, the route of M-116 is shortened by one block and now ends at the cnr of Ludington & William.
  1956 (Jan 27) – Approximately 2,000 feet of right-of-way for the never constructed northerly extension of M-116 beyond the Ludington State Park main park entrance just north of the Big Sable River bridge is officially relinquished by the State Highway Dept to the Dept of Conservation (to be reincorporated into the state park).
  1995 (Apr 17–Nov 1) Updated 2023-12 – An additional ~400 feet of M-116 right-of-way at the northernmost end of the highway at the entrance to Ludington State Park is relinquished to the Dept of Natural Resources on April 17 which conincides with the erection of a new park ranger "contact station" for the state park in the middle of the highway just beyond the Big Sable River bridge. Then on November 1, the 0.138 mile (730 foot) segment of M-116 from the north end of the Big Sable River bridge northerly to a state park parking area at the fish cleaning station is officially cancelled as a state trunkline route through relinquishment. Previously, it was possible to turn around at the end of M-116 without needing a State Park Permit, but with this relinquishment and the location of the DNR contact station there is no easy turnaround at the north end of the highway without requiring the purchase of a daily State Park Motor Vehicle Permit or having an annual pass or the Michigan Recreation Passport.
  1998 (Feb 4) Updated 2023-12 – The entrance to the Lake Michigan Carferry docks is changed from the south end of William St to the south end of James St in Ludington. Formerly, US-10 continued westerly on Ludington Ave for an additional three blocks to William St, then turned southerly for four blocks to the carferry docks. With the reconfiguration of the carferry docks and entrance in 1998, US-10 is officially established along the 0.492-mile segment of James St from Ludington Ave southerly for seven blocks to the ferry docks entrance. In the realignment, MDOT reconstructed James St, and placed a "US-10 ENDS" route marker assembly at the entrance to the docks. The former route of US-10 along William St is cancelled as a state trunkline route "by obliteration," according to MDOT documentation—however, the two blocks of William St from Ludington Ave to Filer St are actually transferred to city control, while the portion south of Filer St is, indeed, obliterated in preparation for the construction of Harbor View Arena to begin in 1999. The former portion of US-10 along Ludington Ave between James St and William St is now an extension of M-116.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-116 exists as freeway or expressway.
NHS: No portion of M-116 is on the National Highway System (NHS).
Memorial Highway:  The following Memorial Highway designation has been officially assigned to part of M-116 by the Michigan Legislature:
  • Trooper Paul K. Butterfield, II Memorial Highway – between the Lincoln River and the Big Sable River. From MDOT: "Trooper Paul Butterfield was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the Michigan State Police for 14 years. Trooper Butterfield was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on Custer Road near Townline Road in Mason County, at approximately 6:20 pm on September 9, 2013. A few minutes after calling in the stop, a citizen called 911 to report a trooper had been shot. Responding units located Trooper Butterfield on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was flown to Munson Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds while in surgery. He is survived by his fiancée and his father."
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