Three Twin Cities Road Mysteries

Following are three references to roads and route designations in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area in Michigan which I have found in various sources but which have no support by other sources:

Interstate 67. The Herald-Palladium newspaper in the past has had a column reviewing headlines from the newspaper in previous years on the same date as the particular issue. In the 1980's, one column stated that the top story twenty years previous was the opening of a section of current I-196 near Benton Harbor. The quoted material mentioned that the name of the new highway was to be called "Interstate 67". However, I have not found another document referring to that highway as I-67, only as I-96 (which it was early on) or I-196 or either of those two designations plus US 31, nor have I talked to anybody who has.

My take: It's possible that Michigan Department of Transportation applied to the American Association of State Highway Officials (today the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) asking for the I-67 designation, and when the Herald-Palladium reported on the freeway opening, the decision was still pending, with it ultimately being rejected. I have no evidence of this, but judging from other AASHO/AASHTO decisions, it seems likely.

Update, June 2002 -- mystery solved? This map (archived webpage, no longer maintained) seems to have all the evidence necessary to address mystery #1 above. Thanks to Stephen Summers. More evidence

Earlier update: It appears that I-67 was slated to run in Michigan, just not in the place mentioned above. The planned-then-dropped Elkhart, Indiana-to-Kalamazoo Interstate was numbered I-67 initially (map, courtesy Richard Moeur). That Interstate, with no number labelled, is also identified on a 1957 Indiana Interstate planning document.

Alternate US 12, St. Joseph. In the mid-1980's, I found a map of Berrien County from the 1950's (I believe from 1955) at the Buchanan Public Library showing a US 12A running along Lake Boulevard from Lakeshore Drive (then US 12, now Business Loop 94) to the St. Joseph River, then curving east to Main Street (then US 12/US 31/US 33, now BL-94/M-63) along either Port Street or Ship Street. This is the only reference I have ever found mentioning a US 12A in St. Joseph.

Update: Chris Bessert, Michigan State Highways author, found an old Michigan Department of Transportation Control Section atlas showing a state trunkline designation along Lake Boulevard around that time period, though the route number (if any) was not readily apparent from the atlas.

Update 2 (August, 2003): I finally was able to make it back to the Buchanan Library, and found a map very similar to the one I saw 15-20 years earlier. It was a Berrien County official map (by the Berrien County Road Commission), undated, but from the 1940s or so judging from routings on the map. One of the routings showed US 12 itself turning from Lakeshore Drive onto Lake Boulevard then Port Street, picking up US 31 from Main Street where both continued into Benton Harbor. (No street was shown where today's BL-94 runs from Lake to Niles Avenue/modern M-63, though one was likely there). This both solidifies the fact that the other map I saw was an official Berrien map (from later) judging from the symbols used on the c. 1940s one, and the fact that Lake Boulevard was once in the state trunk highway system.

An eastward extension of Business Loop 94, Benton Charter Township. While the extension of the St. Joseph Valley Parkway/relocated US 31 from Berrien Springs to I-94 at I-196 is definite and now partially open (see this page), there also seems to have been a plan to extend the freeway carrying BL-94 eastward from its eastern terminus at I-94 to the relocated US 31. Some older maps show this proposal, but plans for this extension seem to have been dropped, if in fact they existed in the first place.

Update: The US 31 freeway itself may actually tie in to I-94 at the BL-94 interchange, according to this page (and this press release) by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Update 2: The 1968 Michigan State Trunkline System planning map (see this page) shows a freeway extension at the other end of BL-94 (when that was to have taken a more easterly rerouted alignment from M-63/Niles Avenue at the southern St. Joseph limits due south back to I-94) to what is now US 31/St. Joseph Valley Parkway near Sodus. Unfortunately the scale of the map is inconclusive as to whether the eastern end of the business loop would have continued to the planned (then as now) US 31 relocation just south of where I-196 ends at I-94.

If anyone has further information on any of these, please e-mail me at or !

This page created Saturday, August 5, 2000/Last revised April 16, 2005

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