M-72 (Michigan highway)

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M-72 marker

M-72 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by MDOT
Length: 156.552 mi[2] (251.946 km)
Existed: c. July 1, 1919[1] – present
Lake Michigan Circle Tour
Major junctions
West end: M‑22 at Empire

US 31 / M‑37 at Traverse City
US 131 / M‑66 at Kalkaska
BL I‑75 / M‑93 at Grayling
M‑18 near Luzerne
M‑33 at Mio

M‑65 at Curran
East end: US 23 at Harrisville
Counties: Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Oscoda, Alcona
Highway system
M‑71 M‑73
M‑206 M-208 M‑209

M-72 is a state trunkline highway in the US state of Michigan, running from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan across the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. The highway connects M-22 in Empire with US Highway 23 (US 23) in Harrisville. It is one of only three Michigan state trunklines that cross the Lower Peninsula, shore to shore. In between, M-72 runs across Northern Michigan woodland, agricultural areas of the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City, and the Au Sable River watershed. The trunkline also provides access to Camp Grayling, a National Guard training facility near the city of the same name. Traffic levels along the highway vary from approximately 800 vehicles a day on the east end to over 32,000 vehicles near Traverse City.

M-72 was first designated as a state highway by 1919 along a segment of its current route. It was extended southward in the mid-1920s and westward in the 1940s. One section of the modern highway added to M-72 in 1940 previously existed as M-208 in the 1930s east of Grayling. Another section of highway near Empire was disconnected from the rest of M-72 until the gap was eliminated later in the decade. All of M-72 was completely paved by the early 1960s. The highway was rerouted in a few places in the 1950s, and the last new segment shifted in 1973 near Kalkaska.

Route description[edit]

M-72 starts its trans-peninsular journey at M-22 in the community of Empire on the shores of Lake Michigan in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. From there it runs easterly uphill through mixed farmland and forest to cross the base of the Leelanau Peninsula. As the highway approaches the city of Traverse City, the roadway runs downhill and weaves back and forth across the Leelanau – Grand Traverse county line. M-72 merges with M-22 to run concurrently in the section of Traverse City in Leelanau County and immediately cross the county line into Grand Traverse County. The two highways run along Grandview Parkway, a four-lane boulevard on the shore of the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. At the intersection of Grandview Parkway and Division Street, M-22 ends. US 31/M-37 run north along Division Street and turn east onto Grandview Parkway to join M-72. These three highways stay merged in a triple concurrency along the length of Grandview Parkway and across the Boardman River along the bay, bypassing downtown. They then follow Front Street until reaching Garfield Avenue east of downtown. At Garfield, M-37 turns north to run up the Old Mission Peninsula which separates the west and east arms of Grand Traverse Bay. US 31/M-72 continues east along the shores of the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay and northward to a junction in Acme. M-72 turns east to cross rural eastern Grand Traverse County along rolling hills through the communities of Williamsburg and Barker Creek.[3][4]

The highway crosses into Kalkaska County at Barker Creek and continues eastward to Kalkaska. There, M-72 meets US 131/M-66 (Cedar Street) on the north side of downtown, and M-72 turns south along Cedar Street and forms another triple concurrency through downtown. South of town, the highway crosses the Boardman River again, and M-72 turns east again headed toward the city of Grayling.[3][4] M-66 follows M-72 to cross a set of railroad tracks that belong to the Great Lakes Central Railroad[5] before leaving to follow its path to Lake City. M-72 crosses the Manistee River at the Kalkaska–Crawford county line and passes the northern shore of Lake Margrethe west of town in the Camp Grayling military reservation. North of the camp gate, M-72 joins M-93 into downtown Grayling. Together they meet James Street, which carries Business Loop I-75 (BL I-75). M-93 turns north to follow BL I-75 out of town, and M-72 turns south to follow it through downtown. At South Down River Road, M-72 turns east again to leave Grayling, crossing I-75 in the process. There is no direct access to I-75 from M-72. Instead traffic is directed to follow BL I-75 in either direction to get to the freeway.[3][4]

In eastern Crawford County, M-72 runs through the Au Sable State Forest and crosses the South Branch of the Au Sable River on the Wakeley Bridge. East of the river crossing, the trunkline intersects the northern terminus of M-18 before crossing into Oscoda County. M-72 continues east through Luzerne to Mio. M-72 merges with M-33 and turns north to cross the Au Sable River a second time in Mio. The highways pick up a concurrency with F-32 north of the river. The three roadways run together until F-32 turns west while M-33/M-72 continues east to Fairview. Fairview marks the northern and eastern end of the concurrency as M-33 turns north towards Atlanta, and M-72 continues easterly into Alcona County. North of Curran, M-72 merges southward with M-65 for approximately 7 miles (11 km) before heading due east through the Barton City and Lincoln areas to Harrisville. M-72 ends at an intersection with US 23 in Harrisville, on the shores of Lake Huron.[3][4]

M-72 is maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) like all other parts of the state trunkline highway system. As a part of its maintenance duties, the department tracks the traffic volumes along its roads using a metric called average annual daily traffic (AADT). This figure is a calculation of the traffic level along a segment of roadway for any average day of the year. In 2009, the MDOT surveys found that the highest traffic levels along M-72 were the 33,720 vehicles per day in Traverse City. The lowest AADT was 807 vehicles near Hubbard Lake Road in Alcona County near Lincoln. Commercial traffic varied between the 555 trucks a day in Graylling and the 72 trucks daily west of Harrisville.[6] M-72 has been listed on the National Highway System (NHS) between the intersection of Division Street and Grandview Parkway in Traverse City and the southern junction with BL I-75 in Grayling.[7] The NHS is a network of roads important to the country's defense, mobility and economy.[8] In addition to the NHS listing, M-72 has been included on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour along its segments concurrent with M-22 and US 31 in the Traverse City area.[3]


M-72 was first designated by July 1, 1919, and it ran from the middle of Alcona County near Barton City east to Harrisville and then south along Lake Huron shore to Greenbush.[1] Around 1927, the route was extended south to Oscoda and west through Luzerne to just east of Roscommon.[9] The section of M-72 along the shoreline between Oscoda and Harrisville became part of US 23. in 1936.[10][11] M-72 was extended westward on an earthen highway and then over the former M-208 to Grayling in 1940. From there M-72 was extended further to just south of Kalkaska along a section of highway previously designated M-76. A seven-mile (11 km) long discontinuous segment of highway some 45 miles (72 km) west of Kalkaska near Empire was also redesignated as part of M-72. The section of highway south to Roscommon became M-144.[12][13] By 1945, the western segment was extended east into Traverse City.[14][15] The two segments were joined when M-72 was routed along US 31 through Traverse City to Acme by early 1948. From there, M-72 was routed along existing roads through Williamsburg to US 131/M-66 north of Kalkaska where it followed the latter highways through downtown to bridge the gap. With this addition to the routing, the road extended "shore to shore" from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan.[16]

The Michigan State Highway Department rerouted M-33/M-72 near Fairview in late 1951 or early 1952, turning the former route back to local control.[17][18] In the middle of 1953, the section of M-65/M-72 in Alcona County was straightened and paved.[19][20] All but the western three miles (4.8 km) of the earthen highway section opened in 1940 were paved in 1957.[21][22] By the middle of 1961, the highway would be paved in its entirety.[23] A new section of highway was opened in 1973, rerouting M-66 and M-72 due west from their junction to US 131, bypassing a former routing north into Kalkaska.[24][25]


Location: Crawford County
Length: 13.3 mi[28] (21.4 km)
Existed: 1936[10]–1939[26][27]

M-208 was a state trunkline highway in that served as a spur route from US 27 (current BL I-75) to the "Wakeley Bridge" in Crawford County in the 1930s. The highway was designated by 1936,[10] and it was removed from the highway system in 1939.[26][27] By the end of 1940, the roadway was redesignated as a part of the state highway system when M-72 was extended to the bridge from the east and then over the former M-208 to Grayling.[12][13] The roadway has remained a state highway since.[3]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[2] km Destinations Notes
Leelanau Empire 0.000 0.000 M‑22 / LMCT (Leelanau Highway)
Leelanau –
Grand Traverse
Traverse City 22.395 36.041 M‑22 north / LMCT north – Suttons Bay Northern end of M-22/LMCT concurrency
Grand Traverse 22.979 36.981 US 31 south / M‑37 south (Division Street) / M‑22 ends – Manistee Northern terminus of M-22; western end of US 31/M-37 concurrency
24.964 40.176 M‑37 (Garfield Avenue) – Old Mission Eastern end of M-37 concurrency
Acme 30.979 49.856 US 31 north / LMCT north – Petoskey Eastern end of US 31/LMCT concurrency
Kalkaska Kalkaska 48.080 77.377 US 131 north / M‑66 north – Petoskey Northern end of US 131/M-66 concurrency
Kalkaska Township 50.084 80.602 US 131 south / M‑66 – Cadillac Southern end of US 131/M-66 concurrency
50.865 81.859 M‑66 south – Lake City Eastern end of M-66 concurrency
Crawford Grayling Township 73.052 117.566 M‑93 south – Camp Grayling Western end of M-93 concurrency
Grayling 74.439 119.798 BL I‑75 north / M‑93 north to I‑75 north Eastern end of M-93 concurrency; northern end of BL I-75 concurrency; M-93 turns north along BL I-75
75.149 120.941 BL I‑75 south to I‑75 south Southern end of BL I-75 concurrency
South Branch Township 90.737 146.027 M‑18 south – Roscommon
F-97 north
Northern terminus of M-18; southern terminus of F-97
Oscoda Mio 106.213 170.933 M‑33 south – Alger Southern end of M-33 concurrency
106.974 172.158 F-32 east – McKinley Southern end of F-32 concurrency
Comins Township 111.385 179.257 F-32 west – Grayling Northern end of F-32 concurrency
Fairview 114.970 185.026 M‑33 north – Atlanta Eastern end of M-33 concurrency
Alcona Curran 127.286 204.847 M‑65 north – Rogers City Northern end of M-65 concurrency
129.074 207.724 F-32 west – McKinley Eastern terminus of F-32
Millen Township 134.293 216.124 M‑65 south – Hale Southern end of M-65 concurrency
Gustin Township 151.245 243.405 F-41 – Lincoln, Oscoda
Harrisville 156.552 251.946 US 23 / LHCT – Alpena, Standish
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (July 1, 1919). State of Michigan: Lower Peninsula (Map). Cartography by MSHD.
  2. ^ a b "MDOT Physical Reference Finder Application". Michigan Department of Transportation. 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Michigan Department of Transportation (2010). Official 2010 Department of Transportation Map (Map). 1 in:15 mi/1 cm:9 km. Section F8–F13.
  4. ^ a b c d Google Inc. "Overview Map of M-72". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=W+Front+St&daddr=44.6565103,-84.696352+to:W+Main+St&hl=en&geocode=FQLDqwIdENre-g%3BFX5nqQId4KLz-inZ04_BUxEgiDEIvIT2s9AIoQ%3BFWpnqQIdFgQJ-w&mra=ls&via=1&sll=44.611979,-84.655151&sspn=0.457034,0.465546&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=8. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  5. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (April 2009) (PDF). Michigan's Railroad System (Map). http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MDOT_Official_Rail_130897_7.pdf. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Bureau of Transportation Planning (2008). "Traffic Monitoring Information System". Michigan Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (April 23, 2006) (PDF). National Highway System, Michigan (Map). http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MDOT_NHS_Statewide_150626_7.pdf. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  8. ^ "The National Highway System". Federal Highway Administration. August 26, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (December 1, 1927). Official Highway Service Map (Map). Cartography by MSHD.
  10. ^ a b c Michigan State Highway Department (June 1, 1936). 1936 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally. Section G10–G11, G13–H13.
  11. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (December 15, 1936). 1936/7 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Winter ed.). Section G13–H13.
  12. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (July 15, 1940). 1940 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Summer ed.). Section G8, G10–G11.
  13. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (December 1, 1940). 1940 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Winter ed.). Section G8, G10–G11.
  14. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (June 1, 1942). 1942 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Summer ed.). Section G8.
  15. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (October 1, 1945). Official Highway Map of Michigan (Map). Section G8.
  16. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (May 1, 1947). 1947 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G8–G9.
  17. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (July 1, 1951). 1951 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G11.
  18. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (April 15, 1952). 1952 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G11.
  19. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (April 15, 1953). 1953 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G12.
  20. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (October 1, 1953). 1953 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G12.
  21. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (April 1, 1957). 1957 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G11.
  22. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (October 1, 1957). 1957 Official Highway Map (Map). Section G11.
  23. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1961). Official Highway Map (Map). Section G8–G13. (Includes all changes through July 1, 1961)
  24. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1973). Official Highway Map (Map). 1 in:14.5 mi. Section G10.
  25. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways and Transportation (1974). Official Highway Map (Map). 1 in:14.5 mi. Section G10.
  26. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (April 15, 1939). 1939 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Summer ed.). Section G10–G11.
  27. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (December 1, 1939). 1939 Official Michigan Highway Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally (Winter ed.). Section G10–G11.
  28. ^ Google Inc. "Overview Map of Former M-208". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Huron+St&daddr=M-72+W&hl=en&geocode=FX5nqQId7HXz-g%3BFejBqAIdukr3-g&mra=prev&sll=44.634948,-84.49482&sspn=0.114214,0.116386&ie=UTF8&z=11. Retrieved March 6, 2011.

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing