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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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M-140 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Terminus:    M-139, 1.8 miles north of downtown Niles
Northern Terminus:    I-196/US-31 at Exit 18 at South Haven
Length 37.163 miles
Maps: Route Map of M-140
Notes: New! 2024-04 M-140 had its beginnings as a replacement route designation for a major north-south highway route. Originally, the West Michigan Pike—the road running along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from New Buffalo northerly to the Straits of Mackinac—was given the second state trunkline route designation ever assigned: Trunk Line 11 (T.L. 11). When the trunklines were signed in the field, M-11 route markers were installed. Then, with the arrival of the U.S. Highway system in 1927, much of M-11 was incorporated into the route of US-31, including the portion of today's M-140 from Watervliet to South Haven. In the early 1930s, a so-called "super scenic" shoreline routing for US-31 was constructed between Benton Harbor and South Haven and the State Highway Dept wanted to keep the Watervliet–South Haven route on the trunkline system, so it assigned the next available route designation it had: M-140. Later, M-140 was extened southerly from Watervliet to US-31 (later US-31/US-33, then BUS US-31, now M-139) north of Niles. For over a half-century from 1934 to 1987, both of M-140's termini were at US-31. Indeed, when plans for upgrading US-31 were being considered in the 1950s—prior to the coming of the "freeway era," the State Highway Dept had anticipated that US-31 would follow a much-upgraded M-140 corridor between Niles and South Haven, leaving US-33 as the primary route from Niles to US-12 at Benton Harbor/St Joseph. In the ensuing decades, different plans for upgrading US-31 evolved and M-140 has remained the Niles–South Haven route ever since.
  As much as it may seem so, M-140 was not designated as an offshoot of the "parent route" of M-40. Even when M-40 followed the current alignment of M-51 between Paw Paw and Niles, M-140 never came in contact with M-40 at Niles, although it did come within two miles of doing so. It is merely a coincidence that M-140 and M-40 were designated so closely. The more likely explnation was that M-140 was designated shortly after M-139 and in the same general area as M-139. It is therefore interesting to note that roughly eighty years after both highways were designated, they now meet each other north of Niles.
  New! 2023-10 In 1986–87 when the new US-31 freeway bypass west of Niles was nearing completion, MDOT and local transporation officials discussed various route number changes in the Niles area. From media reports, the initial proposal by MDOT was to extend M-140 southerly into downtown Niles to a new terminus at BUS US-12/Main St, while leaving "Old 31" between M-140 and Walton Rd north of town as an unsigned trunkline, assumedly in preparation for its eventual transfer back to county control at some point. At this time, there was no talk of a BUS US-31 routing at Niles, which was proposed in July 1986 by local MPO transporation planners as a "temporary" route that would "serve the area only until a new route could be designed," according to local news reports. While the "temporary" BUS US-31 route at Niles would last 23 years, it was finally fully "decommissioned" and signage removed from the roadways when M-139 was extended southerly from Berrien Springs, through downtown Niles and on out to US-12 southwest of town in 2010. In the end, the route of M-140 would remain unchanged.
  In c.2006–2008, discussion from unofficial corners (e.g. not from MDOT sources) conjecturized as to a possible southerly extension of M-140 into downtown Niles to replace much of the BUS US-31 designation which was marked for decommissioning at the time. From the 1992 completion of the US-31/St Joseph Valley Pkwy from Walton Rd northwest of Niles to the existing route of US-31 at Berrien Springs, the former route of US-31/US-33 between Walton Rd and the freeway's new northern terminus was retained as an unsigned state trunkline, likely earmarked by MDOT for jurisdictional transfer back to county andmunicipal control. This transfer never took place and "Old US-31" was maintained as an unsigned trunkline. MDOT then decided to extend the M-139 designation from Berrien Springs to Niles to solve two issues—the unsigned trunkline situation and the orphaned BUS US-31 routing north of Niles. However, it seemed the M-139 extension would not occur before the "decommissioning" of BUS US-31, leading some to theorize that M-140 may be extended southerly from its terminus into downtown Niles. However, with the decommissioning of all of BUS US-12 through Niles in 2010, MDOT finally posted M-139 from north of Berrien Springs to southwest of Niles—taking in the unsigned OLD US-31 route, all of the remainder of BUS US-31 and the western half of the former BUS US-12—leaving M-140 as it has been for decades.
History: 1931 (Oct 13) Updated 2024-04 – A new so-called "super-scenic" shoreline routing of US-31 is completed and opened to traffic from the south side of South Haven southwesterly into Berrien Co, through the Hagar Shore area to Paw Paw Ave north of Benton Harbor, then southerly into downtown Benton Harbor. The former route of US-31 from South Haven to Watervliet is retained as a state trunkline highway and is assigned the M-140 designation. M-140 begins at US-12 in downtown Watervliet and proceeds northerly through Covert to a terminus at South Haven at either jct US-31 or at jct M-43 (records are unclear).
  1934 (Oct 27, Nov 12) Updated 2024-04 – State Highway Commissioner Murray D. Van Wagoner makes a reccommendation to take over Watervliet-Niles Rd from Berrien Co as a southerly extension of M-140 between those two cities on October 27. Van Wagoner notes, "Action for continuation of this trunk line has been desired by Berrien County citizens for a long time and we have found there is full justification for making the change. The existing county road carries heavy through traffic and is extensively used by trucks and passenger cars as a short-cut. The action will be needed relief for Berrien County, in reducing its road maintenance costs." A few weeks later, the reccomendation is approved and the 23.0-mile route from Watervliet southerly through Berrien Center to US-31 north of Niles is officially established as a state trunkline highway route on November 12. The M-140 extension runs concurrently with M-62 east of Eau Claire for approximately ¾ mile. The State Highway Dept announces maintenance will be taken over as of January 1.
  1942 (Sept 5) Updated 2024-04 – Two lanes of the four-lane divided easterly US-31 bypass of South Haven along present-day A-2/Blue Star Hwy are completed and opened to traffic in time for Labor Day Weekend traffic. (Due to wartime shortages and strict controls on new infrastructure work, the State Highway Dept finishes two of the lanes now, the the other side of the new bypass highway completed in 1943 and fully opened to traffic at that point.) Assuming the M-140 designation had run concurrently with US-31 from the south side of South Haven northerly to either the M-43 junction or into downtown, it would now be signed concurrently with BUS US-31 instead.
  1957 (June 24) Updated 2023-12 – The 1.8-mile segment of M-62 along Main St from Old Pipestone Rd in downtown Eau Claire easterly to just east of the eastern jct with M-140 east of Eau Claire is officially cancelled as a state trunkline route, including the ¾-mile concurrent portion with M-140, due to State Highway Dept plans to realign M-140 starting at the eastern jct with M-62 and continuing southerly toward Niles—possibly as a potential future rerouting for US-31 in the region. For the time being, M-140 remains signed along the former joint route of M-62/M-140 as a "marked-and-maintained" route until such time as the proposed M-140 realignment to the south is completed. The M-140 relocation is planned to run from Eureka Rd (1 mile north of the M-62 jct) southerly to the Berrien/Niles Twp line north of niles, generally following the section line parallel to and two miles west of the Berrien/Cass Co line. The new alignment M-140 route is proposed to merge back into the existing M-140 at Fairland Rd on the Niles/Berrien Twp line south of Steinbauer Lake.
  1958 (Sept)–1959 (Oct 1) Updated 2024-04 – A realignment and modernization project along 7½ miles of M-140 from downtown Watervliet to just north of 36th Ave near Covert is completed and opened to traffic in late-September. The project involves reconstructing the existing route of M-140 from downtown Watervliet northerly to Baldwin Ave north of town, where a new alignment route splits off to the east crossing the Paw Paw River before gently curving back to the west, crossing over the former route of M-140 and heading northwesterly before crossing the former route of M-140 again then merging back into it just north of the Berrien/Van Buren Co line. From there northerly to Covert, the final three miles involve a reconstruction on the existing alignment. The 3.722-mile long new route bypasses the 4.5-mile long old, narrow route and its two 90° corners as well as more than a dozen other curves. The new alignment from Baldwin Ave to 48th Ave on the county line is officially established on October 1 at the same time the former route is cancelled and turned back to county control.
  1961 (Dec 1, Dec 4) Updated 2024-04 – The first segment of the relocated M-140 (described in the June 24, 1957 item above) is officially established as a state trunkline from Eureka Rd southerly to M-62 east of Eau Claire on December 4. Construction on the 1.015-mile segment is actually complete and it is opened to traffic three days prior on December 1. The former route of M-140 via Eureka & Preston Rds is cancelled as a state trunkline route and turned back to county control.
  1962 (Apr 5) – The route of M-140 via the former M-62/M-140 concurrency east of Eau Claire—the segment turned back to local control on June 24, 1957, is officially re-established as a state trunkline route on this date. This likely signals the State Highway Dept's conclusion that the new-alignment routing of M-140 from M-62 southerly to the Niles/Berrien Twp line will not come to pass.
  1963 (Aug 30, 11 am–Noon) New! 2023-10 – A 22½-mile long segment of I-96/US-31 freeway opens from I-94 northeast of Benton Harbor (present-day Exit 34) northerly through western Van Buren Co, bypassing South Haven to the east, and terminating at North Shore Dr (present-day Exit 22), ½ mile north of the Van Buren/Allegan Co line. At the northern terminus of the completed freeway, the US-31 designation temporarily heads westerly via North Shore Dr back to its existing alignment along Blue Star Hwy. While US-31 is transferred from its former route along present-day A-2/Blue Star Hwy onto the new I-96 freeway, the 1942–43 "South Haven Bypass" segment from M-140 northerly to North Shore Dr is retained in the state trunkline system, earmarked to become a new BL I-96 routing. As the portion of the BUS US-31 routing at South Haven along North Shore Dr from Dyckman Ave back to existing US-31 (present-day Blue Star Hwy) is in the process of being transferred to local control (it would happen 3½ months from now), it is likely the State Highway Dept removes the BUS US-31 route markers from the route at this time. What would have been signed as BUS US-31/M-140 from the South Haven Bypass northerly to M-43/Phillips St would now just be signed as M-140 alone.
  1963 (Dec 16) New! 2023-10 – The 1.95-mile segment of South Haven's BUS US-31 route from the cnr of Dyckman Ave & North Shore Dr northerly into Allegan Co to the cnr of North Shore Dr & Blue Star Hwy is cancelled as a state trunkline highway route and the BUS US-31 designation at South Haven is officially "decommissioned." The former BUS US-31/M-140 concurrency along La Grange St from the South Haven Bypass northerly to M-43/Phillips St becomes just M-140, while the M-43 designation is extended to replace the former BUS US-31 routing along Phillips St, Broadway and Dyckman Ave to North Shore Dr. A planned BL I-96 routing at South Haven from the new I-96/US-31 freeway (at present-day Exit 18) northerly with M-140 to present-day A-2/Blue Star Hwy then northeasterly and northerly along present-day Blue Star Hwy to North Shore Dr now becomes a new BL I-196 routing, although BL I-196 route markers are likely not erected along that route until the I-96/I-196 switchover occurs a month later.
  1964 (Jan 6–10) New! 2023-10 – While the I-96 and I-196 designation swap was approved the previous October, the actual swap-out of the route markers on both routes occurs during the first week of January 1964. All I-96 route markers along the completed portions of the so-called Benton Harbor–Holland Expressway are swapped out for I-196 route markers, while the I-196 signs posted along the US-16 freeway between Holland and the east side of Grand Rapids are replaced by I-96 markers. At this point, BL I-196 route markers are also likely posted along M-140 between I-196/US-31 and Blue Star Hwy at South Haven.
  1971 (Dec 4) New! 2023-10 – While originally planned to be completed in 1972, the Phoenix St reconstruction and the new Phoenix Rd interchange on I-196/US-31 (present-day Exit 20) is completed and opened to traffic, albeit without most route and directional signage due to an ongoing steel suppliers' strike. As the new signs are erected, though, this marks the transition of BL I-196 off the Blue Star/North Shore alignment and onto the La Grange–Phillips–Broadway–Phoenix route. The concurrent M-140 route markers between I-196/US-31 and M-43/Phillips St are likely removed, leaving just the BL I-196 designation, and M-43 signs are taken down from the portions of Phillp St and Broadway now part of BL I-196. The former route of BL I-196 along North Shore Dr from M-140 to North Shore Dr and North Shore from Blue Star easterly to I-196/US-31 is retained as an unsigned state trunkline route for the time being.
  1972 (Dec 15) Updated 2023-10 – Phoenix St in South Haven from Broadway easterly to I-196/US-31 is established as a state trunkline route as part of the new routing for BL I-196 through the city, although it was completed and opened to traffic just over a year prior. The M-140 route markers along La Grange St from I-196/US-31 south of the city northerly to M-43/Phillips St were likely removed a year earlier.
Controlled Access: No portion of M-140 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: The entire length of M-140 is part of the National Highway System (NHS).
Memorial Highway: At present, no portion of M-140 has been designated as part of a Memorial Highway.
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