A-2 (Michigan)

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A-2

Blue Star Highway
A-2 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by BCRC, VBCRC, and ACRC
Length41.609 mi[1] (66.963 km)
Existedc. May 5, 1970[2]–present
Major junctions
South end M-63 near Lake Michigan Beach
Major intersections
North end BL I-196 / US 31 in Holland
Location
CountryUnited States
StateMichigan
CountiesBerrien, Van Buren, Allegan
Highway system
H-63 A-37

A-2 is a county-designated highway in the US state of Michigan running about 42 miles (68 km) along the shores of Lake Michigan in the southwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. The county highway starts near the town of Lake Michigan Beach in Berrien County at an intersection with M-63 and follows Blue Star Highway through rural coastal areas. Running roughly parallel to its modern freeway replacement, Interstate 196 (I-196), A-2 passes through the cities of South Haven and Saugatuck before ending at an interchange with Business Loop Interstate 196/US Highway 31 (BL I-196/US 31) in Holland.

In the early part of the 20th century, what is now Blue Star Highway was part of two auto trails before becoming a state trunkline highway. In 1926, it was designated as a part of US 31 and kept that status until I-196 bypassed the roadway in the early 1960s. Two local business owners spurred the efforts to get the older highway restored to the state highway map in 1970, and the A-2 designation was created as a result.

Route description

A-2 starts at an intersection with M-63 about 1,000 feet (300 m) west of the I-196/US 31 freeway in Lake Michigan Beach. From this intersection, the county highway runs northward through forest between Lake Michigan and the freeway in northern Berrien County. A-2 crosses into Van Buren County about a mile (1.6 km) later and continues winding north-northeasterly. At various locations, local roads connect the county road to interchanges with the freeway as the two run roughly parallel together. Blue Star Highway passes the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station near Covert before coming into the southern edge of South Haven.[3][4]

In South Haven, A-2 bypasses downtown, rounding the district to the south and east. The county road intersects BL I-196 at Le Grange Street due south of downtown and M-43 a block later. In this area, Blue Star Highway is bounded by a mix of mostly commercial and some residential properties. On the north side of the city, A-2 intersects BL I-196 a second time at Phoenix Street and then continues due north out of town, crossing the Black River. The landscape transitions over to a rural forest area with residential properties as A-2 continues across the county line into Allegan County and passes the South Haven Country Club and some vineyards.[3][4]

A-2 in Allegan County

A-2 turns northeasterly near Glenn and crosses over I-196/US 31 to run east of the freeway. Blue Star Highway here follows 68th Street in the county road grid through the community of Ganges. North of the community, A-2 intersects M-89 about 1,400 feet (430 m) east of its terminus at I-196/US 31. North of here, the freeway turns to the northeast and crosses under A-2. Blue Star Highway continues due north into Douglas. In the city, the county road is bounded by businesses as it S-curves northeasterly to cross a narrow spot of Kalamazoo Lake (part of the Kalamazoo River) into Saugatuck. A-2 bypasses downtown Saugatuck to its east and continues north and northeasterly out of town. The county road crosses over the freeway again and out to farmlands before turning north along 58th Street, well inland of I-196/US 31.[3][4]

From here, A-2 runs due north and crosses I-196 one last time near the south side of the West Michigan Regional Airport; this crossing has no interchange. The county road passes under the west end of the airport's runway in a tunnel as it meanders along South Washington Avenue to an interchange with BL I-196/US 31 on the south side of the city of Holland where it terminates. South Washington Street continues northward into downtown without the county highway designation.[3][4] As a county-designated highway, the 41.6-mile (66.9 km) length of A-2 is maintained by the Berrien, Van Buren, and Allegan county road commissions (BCRC, VBCRC, ACRC) in their respective counties.[1]

History

When auto trails were being developed in the early 20th century, the path of the modern A-2 was used for part of two. The first in 1912 was the West Michigan Pike, which ran from the Indiana state line north to the Straits of Mackinac along Lake Michigan.[5] The second was the Western Mainline of the Dixie Highway in 1915.[6] The state legislature created the State Trunkline Highway System on May 13, 1913, and in the legislation, Division 5 corresponded to a highway along the western Lower Peninsula near Lake Michigan.[7] Six years later, the system was signposted for the first time,[8] and the original M-11 ran along the former Division 5.[9] In November 1926, the American Association of State Highway Officials approved the United States Numbered Highway System,[10] and the state designated US 31 in Michigan along M-11.[11] During World War II, the state highway department bypassed downtown South Haven, shifting US 31 out of downtown.[12][13] US 31 was given the Blue Star Highway designation on October 10, 1948.[14]

US 31 between the Benton Harbor and Holland areas was slated to become an Interstate Highway when that system debuted in the late 1950s.[15] The first freeway segment in the area opened in 1962 northward from I-94 to near the BerrienVan Buren county line,[16][17] and an additional 35 miles (56 km) opened the next year from the northern end of the freeway near the county line to Holland as I-196; US 31 was removed from Blue Star Highway to run along the new freeway.[18]

Blue Star Highway was returned to county control, the US 31 highway signs were taken down, and the roadway was removed from the state highway maps with the completion of the freeway in the area.[19] The owners of a motel in Saugatuck, Mr. and Mrs. Howard "Gene" Temple, received a large number of cancellations because travelers could not find their business.[2] Mrs. Temple said that signage in the area was misleading,[19] and she contacted local officials to get better highway signage for the road. These meetings resulted in a test program for the 1970 state highway map that marked Blue Star Highway as A-2; the Allegan County Road Commission spent $2,000 (equivalent to $11,700 in 2022[20]) to erect about 50 markers along the road in their county.[2] At the time, the scheme was labeled "experimental".[21] Later that year, the system was expanded in scope to the rest of the state.[22] Mrs. Temple was credited as the first Michigan woman to secure a highway designation from the State Highway Commission.[2]

The next year in 1971, A-2 was extended south to the junction with US 33 (now M-63) in Lake Michigan Beach.[23][24] In 1972, BL I-196 in South Haven was realigned and no longer overlapped A-2.[24][25] The South Washington Avenue section of A-2 on the south side of Holland was realigned in 2004 into a 885-foot-long (270 m) tunnel to make way for an expansion of the runway at Tulip City Airport (now West Michigan Regional Airport).[26] A roundabout was added at the intersection with North Shore Drive north of South Haven in 2010.[27]

Major intersections

CountyLocationmi[1]kmDestinationsNotes
BerrienLake Michigan Beach0.0000.000 M-63 / LMCT – Benton Harbor, St. Joseph
Van BurenSouth Haven Township12.03719.372 BL I-196 – South Haven, Watervliet
South HavenSouth Haven Township line12.51220.136 M-43 – South Haven, Kalamazoo
South Haven13.66921.998 BL I-196 – South Haven
AlleganGanges Township23.056–
23.077
37.105–
37.139
I-196 / US 31 / LMCT – Benton Harbor, HollandExit 30 on I-196/US 31
GangesSaugatuck township line27.59544.410 M-89
Saugatuck Township29.664–
29.689
47.740–
47.780
I-196 / US 31 / LMCT – Benton Harbor, HollandExit 36 on I-196/US 31
34.720–
34.740
55.876–
55.909
I-196 / US 31 / LMCT – Benton Harbor, HollandExit 41 on I-196/US 31
Holland41.60966.963 BL I-196 / US 31 – Holland, Niles, MuskegonExit 47 on BL I-196/US 31
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References

  1. ^ a b c Michigan Department of Transportation (2021). Next Generation PR Finder (Map). Michigan Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Blue Star Highway Gets Additional Road Signs". The Holland Evening Sentinel. May 5, 1970. p. 18. ISSN 1050-4044. OCLC 13440201. Retrieved May 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c d Michigan Department of Transportation (2020). Community Connections, Postcards from Home: Official 2020 Michigan Transportation Map (Map). c. 1:975,000. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. §§ L8–M7.
  4. ^ a b c d Google (October 1, 2020). "Overview Map of A-2" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  5. ^ Barnett, LeRoy (2004). A Drive Down Memory Lane: The Named State and Federal Highways of Michigan. Allegan Forest, Michigan: Priscilla Press. p. 237. ISBN 1-886167-24-9. OCLC 57425393.
  6. ^ Wilkerson, Lyn (2012). American Auto Trail: Michigan's U.S. Highway 31 (Kindle, 2nd ed.). Caddo Publications USA. loc. 44. ASIN B002AVU93U.
  7. ^ Michigan Legislature (1915) [enacted May 13, 1913]. "Chapter 91: State Reward Trunk Line Highways". In Shields, Edmund C.; Black, Cyrenius P. & Broomfield, Archibald (eds.). The Compiled Laws of the State of Michigan. Vol. 1. Lansing, Michigan: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, & Crawford. pp. 1868–72. OCLC 44724558 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Michigan May Do Well Following Wisconsin's Road Marking System". The Grand Rapids Press. September 20, 1919. p. 10. OCLC 9975013.
  9. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (July 1, 1919). State of Michigan (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. Lower Peninsula sheet. OCLC 15607244. Retrieved October 17, 2019 – via Michigan History Center.
  10. ^ McNichol, Dan (2006). The Roads that Built America. New York: Sterling. p. 74. ISBN 1-4027-3468-9. OCLC 63377558.
  11. ^ Bureau of Public Roads & American Association of State Highway Officials (November 11, 1926). United States System of Highways Adopted for Uniform Marking by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). 1:7,000,000. Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey. OCLC 32889555. Retrieved November 7, 2013 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  12. ^ Michigan State Highway Department & Rand McNally (June 1, 1942). Official Michigan Highway Map (Map) (Summer ed.). [c. 1:850,000]. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. § M8. OCLC 12701143.
  13. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (October 1, 1945). Official Highway Map of Michigan (Map). [c. 1:918,720]. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. § M8. OCLC 554645076.
  14. ^ Barnett (2004), pp. 32–33.
  15. ^ Bureau of Public Roads (September 1955). "National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" (Map). General Location of National System of Interstate Highways Including All Additional Routes at Urban Areas Designated in September 1955. Scale not given. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. p. i. OCLC 4165975. Retrieved October 2, 2020 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  16. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1962). Official Highway Map (Map). [c. 1:918,720]. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. §§ K7–L8, M7. OCLC 12701120, 173191490. Retrieved October 17, 2019 – via Michigan History Center.
  17. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1963). Official Highway Map (Map). [c. 1:918,720]. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. §§ M7–L8. OCLC 12701120. Retrieved October 17, 2019 – via Michigan History Center.
  18. ^ Mackie, John C. (December 26, 1963). "John Mackie Lists Many Achievements During 1963". The Holland Evening Sentinel. United Press International. p. 22. ISSN 1050-4044. OCLC 13440201. Retrieved May 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ a b "Blue Star Highway May Make Maps, Yet". The News-Palladium. Benton Harbor, Michigan. September 18, 1969. p. 35. OCLC 10117334. Retrieved October 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved December 19, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  21. ^ "Signs Designate Allegan Highway: Markings on Blue Star Are Experimental". The News-Palladium. Benton Harbor, Michigan. March 30, 1970. p. 28. OCLC 10117334. Retrieved October 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ "County Primary Road Marking System Okayed". The Holland Evening Sentinel. October 5, 1970. p. 6. ISSN 1050-4044. OCLC 13440201. Retrieved May 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1971). Michigan, Great Lake State: Official Highway Map (Map). c. 1:918,720. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. § M7. OCLC 12701120, 77960415.
  24. ^ a b Michigan Department of State Highways (1972). Michigan, Great Lake State: Official Highway Map (Map). c. 1:918,720. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. § M7. OCLC 12701120.
  25. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1973). Michigan, Great Lake State: Official Highway Map (Map). c. 1:918,720. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. § M7. OCLC 12701120, 81679137. Retrieved October 17, 2019 – via Michigan History Center.
  26. ^ "Holland Tunnel Opens to Traffic: 885-Foot Route Built to Make Way for Runway". Lansing State Journal. Associated Press. December 17, 2004. p. 1B. ISSN 0274-9742. Retrieved October 2, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Lersten, Andrew (April 27, 2010). "Allegan to Get Its First Traffic Roundabout". The Herald-Palladium. St. Joseph, Michigan. p. A3. OCLC 34793533. Retrieved October 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

External links

  • A-2 at Michigan Highways