Road trips

Michigan Road sign update

You’ll now find guide signs along almost all of the Michigan Road, Indiana’s oldest highway.

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Southbound sign, Michigan Rd. at Kessler Blvd., Indianapolis

Signs started appearing on the route in 2013 and the work picked up steam in 2014. Signs went up in Indianapolis in October, leaving South Bend as the last place on the 270-mile route that is not yet signed.

I was surprised and delighted by how eager the Indianapolis Department of Public Works was to work with us (the Historic Michigan Road Association, of which I’m vice president) on this project. It took time and some back-and-forth to agree on who was responsible for what, but the project always moved forward in the hands of capable and enthusiastic city employees.

Northbound at Michigan and Kessler

Northbound at Michigan and Kessler

I keep hoping for the same from my hometown, South Bend. But they are currently planning to return the Michigan Road to two-way traffic through town after nearly 50 years of it being a one-way street. Also, the Indiana Department of Transportation recently finished building a new alignment of US 31 that begins on the city’s south side; sadly, it abandons a short stretch of the Michigan Road and requires drivers briefly to follow the new US 31 before returning to the byway. If South Bend had signed the route already, they’d only have to move a bunch of signs when these projects complete. I hope South Bend is only waiting to work with us until after these projects finish.

Signing the route is the linchpin to all of our future activities. We want drivers to easily follow the Michigan Road to visit its cities and towns. After driving half of Route 66 with my sons in 2013, I learned firsthand how important signs are. I was able to follow the route across Illinois and most of Missouri entirely by following the signs. But as we drove farther west across Missouri and into Kansas and Oklahoma, signs became hit or miss. Thank goodness for the guidebook I bought or we would have gotten lost. Complete signage would have made the drive easier and more enjoyable.

MRSignSigns aren’t free. The Historic Michigan Road Association sought sponsors to pay for them. In Indianapolis, the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce Economic Development District generously paid for almost all of the signs through the city. I personally sponsored the signs at Kessler Boulevard (pictured above), as I live nearby. We’re grateful to every person and organization that sponsored signs along the route.

And now you can drive almost all of the Michigan Road just by following the signs.


We’ve also published turn-by-turn directions for driving the route. See them here.

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8 thoughts on “Michigan Road sign update

    • To be fair, tax dollars did pay for part of the signs. We provided the signs — the square ones pictured, plus arrow signs where they were needed. The square signs were about $40 each. But the various agencies who control the roads — INDOT, Indianapolis Department of Public Works, et al — had to install them. That took manpower and some materials (i.e., screws, sometimes even signposts). These agencies do routine sign maintenance anyway, and installed our signs as part of that, so I consider these taxpayer costs to be minor in the scheme of things.

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  1. Carole Grey says:

    You must be proud to have been a part of this important and seemingly monumental project. The signs are properly striking and visible on the road and will usable for years to come.
    Well done! Congrats!

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    • I’m usually too busy to bask in anything for very long. But on the day I found these signs up, I stood on the street and stared at them for quite some time with a goofy grin on my face.

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  2. Nancy ( Roe ) Stewart says:

    Good job, Jim. Lots of people would like to make a difference with such an important project as what you have done, but most don’t have the drive to follow thru and accomplish the task. I hope South Bend follows thru and helps finish a great project. Thank You !

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