Interstate 496
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Interstate 496

Interstate 496 marker

Interstate 496
R.E. Olds Freeway
Lansing area with I-496 highlighted in red
Route information
Auxiliary route of I-96
Maintained by MDOT
Length11.907 mi[3] (19.162 km)
HistoryInitial section opened in December 1963,[1] completed on December 18, 1970[2]
Major junctions
West end / in Delta Township
  / in Lansing
near East Lansing
East end / in Delhi Township
CountiesEaton, Ingham
Highway system

Interstate 496 (I-496) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway that passes through downtown Lansing in the US state of Michigan. Also a component of the State Trunkline Highway System, the freeway connects I-96 to the downtown area. It has been named the R.E. Olds Freeway (sometimes just Olds Freeway) for Ransom E. Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile and the REO Motor Car Company. I-496 runs east-west from I-96/I-69 near the downtown area and north-south along a section that runs concurrently with US Highway 127 (US 127). The trunkline also passes a former assembly plant used by Oldsmobile and runs along or crosses parts of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers.

Construction of I-496 started in 1963, and the freeway opened on December 18, 1970. Segments of the freeway south of downtown Lansing were built in the location of a historically black neighborhood. This neighborhood was formed based on the segregationist practices of the early 20th century. Community leaders worked for different housing opportunities for the black residents displaced by I-496 rather than fight the freeway. As the trunkline neared completion, competing proposals to name it resulted in two similar, but separate designations applied to I-496. The city originally approved one name in honor of a former mayor. The local historical society proposed that the state name it as a memorial to Olds after the demolition of the Olds Mansion. The city renamed it the Oldsmobile Expressway, the name under which it opened in December 1970. Two years later, the Michigan Legislature restored its preferred name and it has been the Olds Freeway since.

Route description

I-496 starts at an interchange with I-96/I-69 at that freeway's exit 95 in Delta Township in Eaton County. The freeway runs eastward through suburban areas of the township adjacent to some residential subdivisions. Continuing eastward, there is an interchange for Creyts Road before I-496 angles to the northeast. At the interchange with Waverly Road, I-496 crosses into Ingham County. The freeway then runs parallel to the Grand River. Near a partial interchange with Lansing Road (old US 27[4]), the freeway gains a pair of service drives: St. Joseph Street runs one-way westbound on the north side, and Malcolm X Street runs eastbound to the south. The next interchange is for the connection to the Capitol Loop and M-99, both of which run along Martin Luther King Boulevard. The Capitol Loop,[5][6] also internally numbered Connector 496,[7] is a signed connector that provides access to various state government buildings like the Michigan State Capitol. South of this interchange, M-99 connects to the Lansing Car Assembly plant,[5][6] a former facility for Oldsmobile.[8]

Photograph of
Looking east from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard overpass

Continuing eastward, I-496 passes north of the assembly plant complex and south of the central business district. East of a partial interchange with Walnut Street, the freeway passes the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, which is located on I-496's southern service drive. The south side of the freeway is adjacent to Cooley Gardens near the confluence of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers. I-496 crosses the Grand River downstream from the confluence and meets the eastern terminus of the Capitol Loop. This interchange with Cedar and Larch streets is also a connection to Business Loop I-96 (BL I-96) and Pennsylvania Avenue. St. Joseph Street ends after the connection to Pennsylvania Avenue.[5][6] The main freeway crosses a rail line owned by CSX Transportation.[9] I-496 runs parallel to the north side of the rail line while Malcolm X Street follows to the south as far as the Clemens Avenue overpass. The freeway then crosses into East Lansing near the Red Cedar Natural Area.[5][6]

After crossing the city line, I-496 turns southward and merges with US 127. The two highways run concurrently,[5][6] and they cross a line of the Canadian National Railway.[9] The freeway runs along the western edge of the campus of Michigan State University. South of campus, I-496/US 127 crosses back into Lansing and has an interchange with Jolly Road before entering Delhi Township. About two-thirds of a mile (1.1 km) south of Jolly Road, I-496 meets I-96 and terminates; US 127 continues southward as a freeway toward Jackson.[5][6]

Photograph of
Southbound I-496/US 127 in East Lansing

Like other state highways in Michigan, I-496 is maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). In 2011, the department's traffic surveys showed that on average, 61,082 vehicles used the freeway between BL I-96 and the Trowbridge Road interchange south of US 127, the highest traffic count along I-496. West of Creyts Road, 17,600 vehicles did so each day, which was the lowest count along the trunkline.[10] As an Interstate Highway, all of I-496 is listed on the National Highway System,[11] a network of roads deemed important to the country's economy, defense, and mobility.[12]


Black and white map
1955 planning map for Lansing's Interstates

An east-west freeway was originally planned as an Interstate Highway allowing traffic to access downtown Lansing in the 1955 General Location of National System of Interstate Highways (Yellow Book), an early proposal for what would become the Interstate Highway System.[13] As originally proposed by the Michigan State Highway Department in 1958, the freeway was to be called I-296.[14] The department was waiting on approval of a final numbering scheme the next year,[15] before the first Interstates were signed in the state in 1959.[16] By the time construction started on the Lansing freeway, it was numbered I-496.[17]

The section near downtown was to be built through a historically African-American neighborhood. The neighborhood was formed through "unwritten rules of segregation" as real estate agents and mortgage brokers guided black residents to the area when they were looking to buy homes.[18] When the state and federal governments were planning the freeway, the area was chosen for the path of I-496. The neighborhood boasted a community center and several businesses that catered to the black population of Lansing, including the only record store that sold rhythm and blues music. Community leaders did not fight the freeway and instead lobbied for affordable housing and relocation assistance. The construction spurred integration of blacks into the wider community; some were able to move into neighborhoods previously closed to them, purchasing "newer houses near better schools."[18] In total, the construction of the freeway required the demolition or removal of nearly 600 homes, 60 businesses, and 15 farms.[19]

The first section of I-496 was opened in December 1963,[1] and ran from I-96 northerly to M-43/M-78 (Saginaw and Kalamazoo streets) between Lansing and East Lansing. The freeway, comprising the southern two-thirds, was designated I-496/M-78/BL I-96 while the northern portion was on city streets as M-78/BL I-96.[4][20] Some 50 men completed the work by year's end; they went entirely without vacation time to accomplish the feat.[1] Another section of freeway was opened in 1966, and US 127 was rerouted to follow I-496/M-78. BL I-96 was removed from I-496/US 127/M-78 and routed along the former US 127.[21][22] The freeway segment north of the Trowbridge Road interchange continuing northward as part of US 127 was opened in 1969. Another section opened at the same time was the western section from I-96 to Lansing Road (then US 27) in 1969.[23][24] The remaining section between M-99 (then Logan Street, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard) and I-496/US 127 opened on December 18, 1970, completing construction.[2][25]

The freeway underwent a $42.4 million reconstruction (equivalent to $58.7 million in 2018[26]) between April and November 2001 which included the rehabilitation or reconstruction of 35 bridges, 8.5 miles (13.7 km) of freeway, and the addition of a weave-merge lane between Pennsylvania Avenue and US 127.[27][28] Speed limits were raised along I-496 from 55 to 70 mph (89 to 113 km/h) in 2007 to reflect the speeds motorists were driving during studies conducted by MDOT and the Michigan State Police.[29]

Black and white photograph
Olds Mansion

The name applied to the freeway was not without controversy. The Lansing City Council named it in September 1966 after Ralph W. Crego, a former city council member and the longest-serving mayor in the city's history. The Historical Society of Greater Lansing wanted it named the "R.E. Olds Expressway", in part because the new road brought about the demolition of the Olds Mansion,[25] which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places,[30] and to "recogniz[e] the contributions of R.E. Olds to the industries of the city."[25] The society approached the Michigan Legislature, which introduced House Resolution 48 in February 1970 using the historical society's preferred name. The city council realized that they had been bypassed and conveniently discovered that their original resolution was not "formally adopted".[25] They named a park for Crego instead in October 1970 and adopted a resolution to name I-496 the "Oldsmobile Expressway". The Legislature approved its resolution resulting in two names, one for the founder of the car company, and one for the company itself. The council member who introduced the city's resolution criticized the Legislature for taking action without consultation. The state resolution was intercepted before it could be sent to the Michigan Department of State Highways, and the freeway opened on December 18, 1970, with the "Oldsmobile Expressway" name. On August 21, 1972, during the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Oldsmobile, Senate Concurrent Resolution 345 renamed I-496 the "R.E. Olds Freeway".[25]

Exit list

EatonDelta Township0.0000.000-- /  - Grand Rapids, Flint, Detroit, Ft. WayneExit 95 on I-96/I-69
1.6372.6341Creyts RoadSigned as exits 1A (south) and 1B (north) westbound
county line
Delta Township-
Lansing city line
3.5615.7313Waverly Road
InghamLansing4.5457.3144Lansing RoadWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
5 south / east (Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard)
6Pine Street, Walnut Street - Downtown Lansing
6.27310.0957AGrand Avenue - Downtown LansingWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
7 / west (Pennsylvania Avenue, Cedar Street, Larch Street)Separate exits for Cedar Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, connected by collector-distributor roads eastbound only; exit 7A is also attached to collector-distributor roads westbound only
8.57613.8028 north - Flint, East LansingNorthern end of US 127 concurrency
East Lansing8.74814.0799Trowbridge Road
Lansing10.91217.56111Dunckel Road, Jolly Road
Delhi Township11.90719.162--
south - Jackson
Exit 106 on I-96; exit 73 on US 127; freeway continues south as US 127
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Related trunkline

Capitol Loop
Length2.381 mi[3] (3.832 km)
ExistedOctober 13, 1989[31]-present

The Capitol Loop is a state trunkline highway running through Lansing that was commissioned on October 13, 1989.[31] It forms a loop route off I-496 through downtown near the Michigan State Capitol complex, home of the state legislature and several state departments. However, unlike other business loops in Michigan, it has unique reassurance markers--the signs that serve as regular reminders of the name and number of the highway. It is known internally at MDOT as Connector 496 for inventory purposes.[7] The highway follows a series of one-way and two-way streets through downtown Lansing, directing traffic downtown to the State Capitol and other government buildings.[32][33] Unlike the other streets downtown, the seven streets composing the Capitol Loop are under state maintenance and jurisdiction.[34]

The loop was originally proposed in 1986 as part of a downtown revitalization effort.[35] Almost from the beginning before the highway was commissioned in 1989, it was affected by controversial proposals. The first was related to suggestions by community leaders to rename city streets in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.[25] Another controversy dealt with rebuilding the streets as part of a downtown beautification project; the downtown business community protested the original scope of construction,[36] and the Lansing City Council threatened to cancel the project in response to the controversy.[37] In 2010, additional controversies surfaced regarding the posting and enforcement of speed limits on city streets in Michigan, including the streets that make up the Capitol Loop.[38]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "New Highway Opened". Ironwood Daily Globe. Associated Press. December 21, 1963. p. 9. OCLC 10890811. Retrieved 2015 – via access
  2. ^ a b Rook, Christine (July 23, 2006). "Paving the Way: Interstate Roads Have Shaped the Future for Many Mid-Michigan Communities". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1D, 5D. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  3. ^ a b c Michigan Department of Transportation & Michigan Center for Shared Solutions and Technology Partnerships (2009). MDOT Physical Reference Finder Application (Map). Michigan Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ a b Michigan State Highway Department (1963). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120. Retrieved 2017 – via Archives of Michigan.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Michigan Department of Transportation (2012). Pure Michigan: State Transportation Map (Map). c. 1:221,760. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. Lansing inset. OCLC 42778335, 794857350.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Google (July 12, 2012). "Overview Map of I-496" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2012.
  7. ^ a b Michigan Department of Information Technology (May 1, 2008). "Appendix C: State Trunkline Connector Routes" (PDF). Michigan Geographic Framework. Michigan Department of Information Technology. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved 2008.
  8. ^ Wieland, Barbara (May 1, 2005). "An Era Ends as GM Plant Closes". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 8A. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  9. ^ a b Michigan Department of Transportation (January 2011). Michigan's Railroad System (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Bureau of Transportation Planning (2008). "Traffic Monitoring Information System". Michigan Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (April 23, 2006). National Highway System, Michigan (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2012. Retrieved 2008.
  12. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  13. ^ Bureau of Public Roads (1955). "Lansing" (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. 44. OCLC 4165975 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  14. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (April 25, 1958). "Recommended Interstate Route Numbering for Michigan". Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. Archived from the original on August 5, 2004.
  15. ^ "Michigan Delays Road Number System". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. June 4, 1959. p. 11. OCLC 12962635. Retrieved 2010 – via Google News.
  16. ^ "New Signs Mark Interstate 75". Escanaba Daily Press. Associated Press. October 13, 1959. p. 2. OCLC 9670912. Retrieved 2015 – via access
  17. ^ "Release Bids for Freeway to Holland". The Holland Evening Sentinel. United Press International. July 20, 1962. p. 6. OCLC 13440201. Retrieved 2015 – via access
  18. ^ a b Miller, Matthew (February 22, 2009). "Looking Back: I-496 Construction, A Complicated Legacy". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 8A. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  19. ^ Ingells, Norris (February 14, 1965). "City's East-West Traffic Speeded". Lansing State Journal (Progress ed.). p. C1. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  20. ^ Michigan State Highway Department (1964). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan State Highway Department. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120, 81213707.
  21. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1966). Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120. Retrieved 2017 – via Archives of Michigan.
  22. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1967). Michigan Water-Winter Wonderland: Official Highway Map (Map). Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120.
  23. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways & H.M. Gousha (1969). Michigan, Great Lake State: Official Highway Map (Map). c. 1:190,080. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120. Retrieved 2017 – via Archives of Michigan.
  24. ^ Michigan Department of State Highways (1970). Michigan, Great Lake State: Official Highway Map (Map). c. 1:190,080. Lansing: Michigan Department of State Highways. Lansing inset. OCLC 12701120.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Barnett, LeRoy (2004). A Drive Down Memory Lane: The Named State and Federal Highways of Michigan. Allegan Forest, MI: Priscilla Press. pp. 140-141, 165. ISBN 1-886167-24-9. OCLC 57425393.
  26. ^ Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2019). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2019. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  27. ^ Gantert, Tom (April 4, 2001). "I-496 Shutdown Goes Smoothly". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 5A. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  28. ^ Hugh, Leach (November 5, 2001). "Most Area Road Work Complete". Lansing State Journal. p. B3. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  29. ^ Wallbank, Derek (April 3, 2007). "Drivers on I-496 Get the Green Light to Go 70: Stretch of US 127 in Frandor Area Seed Higher Speed Limits as Well". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 7A. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2012 – via access
  30. ^ O'Hearn, Patricia (n.d.). "Michigan Time Traveler" (PDF). Lansing Newspapers in Education, Michigan Historical Center. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  31. ^ a b Michigan Department of Transportation & City of Lansing (August 29, 2007). "Ingham County" (PDF) (Map). Right-of-Way File Application. Scale not given. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. Sheet 180. OCLC 12843916. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved 2008.
  32. ^ Google (October 14, 2008). "Overview Map of the Capitol Loop" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2008.
  33. ^ Brown, David M. & Universal Map (2010). "Lansing" (Map). Michigan County Atlas: Back Roads & Forgotten Places (2nd ed.). [c. 1:24,000]. Blue Bell, PA: Universal Map. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7625-6505-4. OCLC 624374092.
  34. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation (2008). Truck Operator's Map (Map). c. 1:221,760. Lansing: Michigan Department of Transportation. Lansing inset. OCLC 261183721.
  35. ^ Andrews, Chris (May 22, 2003). "Work Set for Capitol Loop". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 6A. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  36. ^ Sturm, Daniel (October 29, 2003). "The 'Big Dig' Causing a Big Flap in Downtown Lansing". City Pulse. Lansing, MI. OCLC 48427464.
  37. ^ Murphy, Shannon (November 4, 2003). "City to Seek Options for Capitol-Area Road Work". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1B, 2B. ISSN 0274-9742. OCLC 6678181. Retrieved 2018 – via access
  38. ^ Kolp, Stephanie (June 2, 2010). "Some Speeding Tickets Being Waived". Lansing, MI: WLNS-TV. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved 2010.

External links

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

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