Interstate 96 or I -96 is an Interstate Highway in the United States, located entirely in the state of Michigan. The highway forms an east-west road through the south of the state, from Muskegon on Lake Michigan via Grand Rapids and the state capital Lansing to Detroit. I-96 is 309 kilometers long.
- ElectronicsMatter: State facts of Michigan, covering history, geography, demography, economics, politics, and administrative division of Michigan.
The beginning of I-96 at Muskegon.
The interchange with I-275 at Plymouth.
The parallel structure of I-96 (Jeffries Freeway) in Detroit.
The highway begins on the east side of Muskegon on US 31, the highway from Holland to Ludington in the north. I-96 heads southeast with 2×2 lanes. The highway leads through gently sloping and fairly barren area to the east, to the city of Grand Rapids. On the north side of Grand Rapids, it crosses US 131.
I-96 has just 2×2 lanes here, and Interstate 196 ends at I-96 on the east side of town. I-196 comes from Holland and Benton Harbor and is the connecting road to Chicago. A little further east, one crosses State Route 6, the city’s southern bypass. After this you continue through meadows to the east, a fairly straight route. This area is quite monotonous to drive through.
After about 140 kilometers from Muskegon you reach Lansing, the capital of Michigan. Here I-96 turns south and is then double-numbered with Interstate 69, which runs to Flint and Toronto. Lansing is a city of 120,000 inhabitants and an urban area of 300,000 inhabitants, making it one of the more important cities in the state. On the west side of the city, one intersects with Interstate 496, which runs through downtown as an east-west axis. Shortly thereafter, I-69 exits toward Indianapolis. I-96 then curves east again and passes south of Lansing. Here one again crosses I-496 and also the US 127, which runs south to the town of Jackson. I-96 has 2×2 lanes here and the area gets a little more wooded.
After that, I-96 goes through rural areas again, although the landscape is a bit more varied than in western Michigan. In Brighton one crosses the US 23, a north-south highway from Flint to Toledo, which allows one to bypass the city of Detroit. After this, the highway has 2×3 lanes and you come closer to the Detroit metropolitan area.
- Fun-wiki: Brief information of the state Michigan, covering basic history and geography as well as top cities of Michigan.
Closer to Detroit, the countryside is slowly but surely becoming more built-up and from the suburb of Novi there is continuous development. At Farmington Hills, a large suburb of more than 80,000 people, I-96 turns south, Interstate 696 goes straight to Warren, and State Route 5 to downtown Detroit, but later turns into a grade road. Through traffic to downtown should follow I-96.
Interstate 96 then heads south and already has 2×4 lanes. You pass by Livonia, a large suburb with 100,000 inhabitants. At Plymouth, I-96 turns east toward downtown, while Interstate 275 heads straight south toward Toledo, Ohio. To the west, State Route 14 leads to Ann Arbor, from where one can take I-94 to Chicago. I-96 goes through an industrial zone to Detroit. After the intersection with US 24 you enter the city of Detroit. From here, 2+3+3+2 lanes are available for traffic. Via a 4-level stack node one crosses theState Route 39, a north-south highway from Dearborn to Southfield, two suburbs of Detroit.
Along the highway are many roads with vacant lots, a sign of the Detroit exodus that has taken place in recent decades. Half of the plots along some streets are undeveloped. The highway here is called the Jeffries Freeway and then enters the densely built-up part of Detroit, but here too many places are undeveloped along the residential streets. The highway has 2×4 lanes here. Near the center one crosses the Interstate 94. Here near the center there are even streets along which only a few houses stand, the rest have been demolished after being vacant. On the west side of downtown, I-96 ends at Interstate 75.
I-96’s predecessor was US 16. The number I-96 was introduced in 1963 as a so-called Intrastate Interstate Highway, meaning it only runs in Michigan. In the original plans, I-96 would not start at Muskegon, but at Benton Harbor and from there first run north through Holland to Grand Rapids, and from there the corridor via Lansing to Detroit. This is today’s I-196. The section from Muskegon to Grand Rapids, on the other hand, was numbered as I-196 in the early years. The first parts of the highway were built as US 16, from the end of 1959 they started installing signposts with I-96 and I-196 on the then open parts between Muskegon and Detroit.
On October 21, 1963, AASHTO decided to renumber the Interstate Highways in western Michigan, swapping I-96 and I-196. I-96 at that time ran from Muskegon to Grand Rapids and I-196 from Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids. This meant that all signage had to be adjusted.
Muskegon – Lansing
Construction on the Muskegon to Lansing section began before the Interstate Highway program was introduced. The first section opened in 1957 between Coopersville and Marne, but the real build speed during that period was between Grand Rapids and Lansing, a long stretch of which was already open to drive by 1959. Construction then progressed quickly, in 1961 the entire section between Muskegon and Grand Rapids was completed, including the Grand Rapids bypass. At that time, the entire 140 kilometers of I-96 was continuous between Muskegon and Lansing.
|Exit 16 Coopersville||Exit 24 Marne||13 km||24-12-1957|
|Exit 77 Portland||Exit 86 Grand Ledge||14 km||20-01-1958|
|Exit 59 Clarksville||Exit 73 Portland (west)||23 km||18-12-1958|
|Exit 73 Portland (west)||Exit 77 Portland||6 km||00-06-1959|
|Exit 46 SR-6 (Grand Rapids)||Exit 59 Clarksville||21 km||13-11-1959|
|Exit 40 Cascade Road (Grand Rapids)||Exit 46 SR-6 (Grand Rapids)||10 km||30-08-1961|
|Exit 33 Plainfield Avenue (Grand Rapids)||Exit 40 Cascade Road (Grand Rapids)||11 km||21-11-1961|
|Exit 1 US 31 (Muskegon)||Exit 16 Coopersville||26 km||25-11-1961|
|Exit 24 Marne||Exit 33 Plainfield Avenue (Grand Rapids)||14 km||22-12-1961|
Lansing – Detroit
The oldest section of I-96 is just outside of Detroit, where the Brighton – Farmington Expressway was developed. The first 4 miles of this was opened on August 1, 1957 between US 23 in Brighton and the Oakland County border. On December 13, 1957, the section between the county line and Farmington opened, joining State Route 5, which was then planned as a freeway over Grand River Avenue further into Detroit. In the years since, I-96 has been rapidly constructed between Lansing and Brighton. The entire Lansing bypass and the stretch to just before Brighton were opened to traffic simultaneously on 12 December 1962. This made it possible to drive through I-96 from Muskegon to the suburbs of Detroit.
Between 2022 and 2025, an 18-kilometre section between Kent Lake Road and I-275/I-696 in Novi will be redeveloped, creating a ‘flex lane’ (left rush-hour lane).
|Exit 148 US 23||Exit 151 Kensington Road||6 km||01-08-1957|
|Exit 151 Kensington Road||Exit 163 I-275 / I-696||19 km||13-12-1957|
|Exit 145 Brighton||Exit 148 US 23||5 km||21-12-1961|
|Exit 141 Howell||Exit 145 Brighton||6 km||07-11-1962|
|Exit 86 Grand Ledge||Exit 141 Howell||88 km||12-12-1962|
Jeffries Freeway in Detroit
In the original plans for Detroit, I-96 was to be located further north on Grand River Avenue, one of the largest city roads in Detroit. Later a route further south was chosen, State Route 5 in Farmington is a reminder of this plan.
The Jeffries Freeway in Detroit was the last section of I-96 to be built. In 1962, I-96 was completed through Michigan, and construction of the Grand River Freeway between 8 Mile Road and the Ambassador Bridge to Canada was announced on July 9, 1963. The highway should have been completed by 1972 in this plan. However, construction did not start and in the end a completely different route was chosen by Livonia. This section would run east-west, as opposed to the previously planned diagonal Grand River Freeway that was to be built over Grand River Avenue. This plan created a double numbering with I-275 between Farmington and Livonia.
The first section of I-96 opened on July 27, 1971, between the interchanges with I-94 and I-75 at Downtown Detroit. Construction on I-96 didn’t begin to pick up steam until construction of I-75 and I-94 through Detroit was completed. The Jeffries Freeway was then constructed westward through Detroit in stages. In 1974, the stretch that crosses Grand River Avenue twice opened. This also included an interchange with the planned Davis Freeway (SR-8), which ultimately never extended to I-96. On November 10, 1976, the dual numbering with I-275 between Farmington and Plymouth opened to traffic. This left one missing link, the 16-kilometer east-west section through Livonia, which opened in one go on November 21, 1977. This completed the Jeffries Freeway.
In 2014, I-96 in the suburb of Livonia was closed for six months for a thorough renovation of the sunken part. The highway has been almost completely redeveloped. The project cost $148 million.
|Exit 190 I-94||Exit 192 I-75||2 km||27-07-1971|
|Exit 188 Livernois Avenue||Exit 190 I-94||3 km||07-12-1972|
|Exit 185 Grand River Avenue||Exit 188 Livernois Avenue||5 km||11-09-1974|
|Exit 183 Southfield Freeway||Exit 185 Grand River Avenue||3 km||09-11-1976|
|Exit 165 I-275 (Farmington)||Exit 173 I-275 (Plymouth)||14 km||10-11-1976|
|Exit 173 I-275 (Plymouth)||Exit 183 Southfield Freeway||16 km||21-11-1977|
From Muskegon to Grand Rapids, the road is fairly quiet, with between 22,600 and 31,500 vehicles per day. 40,000 vehicles are driving towards Lansing, and closer to Detroit this already rises to 90,400 units. At Farmington Hills this increases to 132,300 and 197,700 vehicles at Livonia. Towards Detroit it is slightly lower, with 151,900 vehicles per day. Near the Center this drops to 88,600 vehicles.