Interstates 69, 75, 94 and 96 have been serving Michigan residents for decades. But did you know highway officials proposed adding a fifth major interstate to Michigan's mix?

We're not talking about the local bypasses and spurs like I-196 between Holland and Grand Rapids, or I-475 in Flint. We're talking about a full-fledged interstate that, if completed as proposed, would connect Michigan to the Carolinas.

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"If completed as proposed" is the operative term here - because unless something changes, it's probably never going to happen.

Route of the Proposed I-73 in Michigan

The idea of an Interstate 73 running from Detroit, Michigan, to Charleston, South Carolina, can be traced back as far as 1990. The Michigan part of the plan would later be altered to link Toledo, Ohio, to Lansing, Michigan, then north to Sault Ste. Marie.

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Much of the proposed route for I-73 in Michigan would run concurrently with I-75, U.S. 127, and U-S 223.

Photo via I73.com
Photo via I73.com
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Where Would I-73 Go After Michigan?

From Toledo, the proposed I-73 would drop southeastward to Columbus and then Portsmouth, Ohio, before crossing into West Virginia.

The interstate would then hug the West Virginia/Kentucky border along the same route as the existing U.S. 52 for the most part until entering southern Virginia. From Roanoke, Virginia, I-73 would drop almost directly south through North Carolina before sweeping southeastward into South Carolina to the Atlantic coast.

Photo via I73.com
Photo via I73.com
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The Status of I-73

While it may have been a solid plan, I-73 will likely never come to full fruition.

To date, North Carolina is the only state to have completed any of the proposed route. South Carolina is expected to begin work on part of its section of I-73 in 2024. Virginia and West Virginia continue to hem and haw about it, and Ohio's still trying to boost public support for the idea.

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Meanwhile in Michigan, transportation officials all but scrapped the state's involvement with I-73 back in 2001, calling it "impractical" and diverting funds to other highway improvements.

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