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M-22 & M-109 junction route signage in Glen Arbor, Michigan
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US-45 Route Marker On to Next Route:
Southern Entrance: Wisconsin state line, 8 miles south of Watersmeet
Northern Terminus:    Downtown Ontonagon at cnr River St & Ontonagon St
Length: 54.737 miles
Maps: Route Map of US-45
Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006
Notes: US-45 is the youngest of all mainline US Highways in Michigan, added in 1934, seven years after the U.S. Highway System came into existence.
  The last remaining swing bridge on the Michigan state trunkline system sat on M-64 a few hundred feet southwest of US-45's northern terminus in Ontonagon until October 2006. A new fixed span across the Ontonagon River was constructed a bit more than ½ mile upstream of the current structure. The new highway accessing this new bridge now intersects US-45 several blocks south of its former junction with M-38. The new bridge now carries M-64 from the west across the river to its new junction with US-45 at the relocated M-38, all of US-45 from there northerly is scheduled to remain on the state highway system and remain designated as US-45 to its current terminus. (See the Ontonagon State Trunkline Changes 2006 map.)
  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 change to the route of US-45 during that timeframe. They suggested the department transfer jurisdiction of the segment of US-45 from jct M-26/M-35 southeast of Rockland northwesterly via Rockland Rd through Rockland to Ontonagon to county control. The maps also had the state taking control of Ontonagon–Greenland Rd between those two cities, and labeled it as part of an extendened M-35 route. Obviously, if US-45 from Rockland to Ontonagon was cancelled as a trunkline, the US-45 designation would not have just terminated at M-26 in the "middle of nowhere" (with apoligies to northeastern Rockland Twp) and would've likely been rerouted along M-26 to Greenland then via Ontonagon–Greenland Rd into Ontonagon. While this exact change did take place eleven years after it was proposed, that change was reversed two years later.
History: 1934 (June) – The Highway 26 Club, based at Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin just across the Michigan state line, is agitating for an extension of US-45 which currently runs from Mobile, Alabama to Chicago, Illinois. The group is promoting a route which would divert the existing US-45 at Centralia, Illinois via Champaign and Rockford, then into Wisconsin to follow STH-26 via Oshkosh, Monico and Eagle River to Land O' Lakes, then take over the route of M-26 through Watersmeet, Bruces Crossing, Houghton, Hubbell, Lake Linden, Laurium, Calumet to Mohawk then via the recently-decommissioned route of M-26 to Gay, where US-45 would terminate. (Although the choice of the tiny mine ore-processing hamlet of Gay would seem to be an odd choice of a terminus for a major US Highway route.)
  1934 (Nov) – The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) officially approves the proposal by highway officials from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan to extend the route of US-45 northerly through Wisconsin to Land O' Lakes on the Michigan state line where it will take over the route of M-26 from there through Watersmeet and Bruce Crossing to Rockland, then run northwesterly replacing M-35 from Rockland to a terminus in Ontonagon. Signs will be erected in mid-1935.
  1935 (June) – The US-45 route designation debuts in Michigan, being extended from Des Plaines, Illinois northerly through Wisconsin, then supplanting M-26 from Land O' Lakes through Bruce Crossing to M-35 near Rockland, then replacing M-35 from Rockland into Ontonagon where it ends at M-64 downtown. With the brand-new US-45 running just 60 miles to the west of the existing M-45, state highway officials wisely decide to give M-45 a new designation to minimize confusion and M-95 takes over the route of the original M-45 at this time.
  1949 – A new, more direct highway alignment opens just south of Watersmeet. The former route is turned back to county control.
  1953 – A new highway alignment opens just north of Watersmeet, bypassing some difficult highway segments, which are turned back to county control.
  1971 (June 21) – At its regular meeting at the Edwater Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, the U.S. Route Numbering Subcommittee of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) approves a request from the Michigan Dept of State Highways to relocate the route of US-45 between M-26 southeast of Rockland and Ontonagon from its existing route via Rockland and placing it onto a new alignment utilizing the existing M-26 from southeast of Rockland through Mass City to the Greenland area, then northwesterly past Greenland into Ontonagon.
  1971 (Oct 22) – The rerouting of US-45 approved by the AASHO in June (see above) is completed and opened to traffic in Ontonagon Co. From the jct of US-45 & M-26 southeast of Rockland, US-45 supplants the M-26 designated northeasterly through Mass City to the Greenland area where it turns westerly and northwesterly via a completely reconstructed Ontonagon–Greenland Rd (present-day M-38) onto Ontonagon. As a result, M-26 is scaled back to the new intersection with US-45 one mile east of Greenland. The former US-45 (Rockland Rd) is retained as an unsigned, un-numbered state highway for the time being. While a reason for the routing changes has not been found to date, news reports at the time state the new route "will provide traffic east of Greenland with a shorter, modern access route to the western part of the Upper Peninsula." Oddly, though, the new alignment for US-45 is five miles longer than the former route via Rockland (18.3 miles versus 13.3 miles), so US-45 traffic would find the new route a major inconvenience! The reconstruction and partial realignment of Ontonagon–Greenland Rd cost $4.06 million.
  1973 (June 26) – Two years and five days after approving the Dept of State Highways' request to relocate US-45 in Ontonagon Co onto a portion of M-26 and then a newly reconstructed route between Greenland and Ontonagon, the U.S. Route Numbering Subcommittee of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) approves a request by the MDSH at its regular meeting held in Washington, D.C. to restore US-45 to its pre-1971 alignment between Rockland and Ontonagon. The Dept of State Highways then removes the US-45 route markers it erected in 1971 and erects them along the pre-1971 US-45 route along Rockland Rd via Rockland and northwesterly into Ontonagon. The M-26 designation is restored to its former routing from Greenland southwesterly through Mass City to US-45 southeast of Rockland. M-38 is then extended westerly concurrently with M-26 for approximately one mile east of Greenland and then northwesterly along Ontonagon–Greenland Rd replacing the US-45 designation (1971–1973) into Ontonagon.
Controlled Access: No portion of US-45 is freeway or expressway.
NHS: US-45 from its southern entrance at he Wisconsin state line to jct M-26 southeast of Rockland is on the National Highway System (NHS). (40.5 miles) (This route was added to the NHS in 2012 with the passage of the MAP-21 funding and authorization bill.)
Circle Tour: Formerly Lake Superior Circle Tour: In downtown Ontonagon, prior to the removal of the 1939 M-64 swing bridge spanning the Ontonagon River, US-45 was on the LSCT from its northern terminus southeasterly to the former junction with M-38 on the east side of downtown. Now that M-64 and M-38 directly meet each other at US-45 south of downtown, US-45 itself is no longer on the LSCT.
Memorial Highway: At present, no portion of US-45 has been designated as part of a Memorial Highway.
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