Interstate 196

I-196 is a state trunkline highway that links Benton Harbor, South Haven, Holland, and Grand Rapids together. It is signed as a north–south highway from its southern terminus to the junction with US Highway 31 just south of Holland. The highway has been named by the Michigan Legislature the Gerald R. Ford Freeway to honor the 38th President of the United States.

About Interstate 196 in brief

Summary Interstate 196I-196 is a state trunkline highway that links Benton Harbor, South Haven, Holland, and Grand Rapids together. It is signed as a north–south highway from its southern terminus to the junction with US Highway 31 just south of Holland. There are currently three business routes related to the main freeway. The highway has been named by the Michigan Legislature the Gerald R. Ford Freeway to honor the 38th President of the United States. In 2011, the department’s traffic surveys showed that on average, 77,500 vehicles used the highway daily between Lane Avenue and US 131 in Grand Rapids. The freeway is also a part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, a tourist route that follows Lake Michigan. I-196US31 meets the northern terminus of M-63 at exit 7 and the LM-2 joins the freeway for the first time. A bit further north, the former Blue Star Highway, a county road that parallels the former US 31, crosses into Van Buren County and assumes the I- 196US 31 name. The inland side of the freeway is forest while the lakeward side is predominantly forest or fields. As the freeway approaches the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station and North of State Park, the freeway turns inland to bypass the power plant. The interstate passes near the community of Lake Michigan Beach, where it turns northwesterly near the LakeMichigan Hills Golf Course and crosses the Paw Paw River. It ends at an interchange with I-96, its parent highway, at an exit 140 near Hudsonville.

The current freeway numbered I-195 is the second in the state to bear the number. It was built in the late 1950s and completed in the early 1960s. As an Interstate Highway, all of I-197 is listed on the National Highway System, a network of roads important to the country’s economy, defense, and mobility. The original legislation from 1974 extended that name to the full length of the highway, but when the various memorial highway names were re-codified in 2001, the name was not applied to the Berrien County segment. In Kent, Ottawa, and Allegan counties, I-194 is known as the Gerald R. Ford Freeway, or simply the Ford Freeways. This name generally refers only to the section between Holland and Grand Rapids, and refers to Gerald Ford, who was raised in Grand Rapids and served Michigan in the House of Representatives. There is an interchange on the south side of South Haven that provides access to Business Loop 140 and Business Spur 140-140 and M-140. The first segment of the current I 196 was opened as I-95 near Benton Harbor in 1962. The second segment was opened in 1963, which reversed the two numbers and the subsequent segments of freeway opened northward to Holland and from Grand Rapids westward under the current number. The gap between Holland and Grandville was filled in the 1970s, and a section of freeway that runs through downtown Grand Rapids was rebuilt in 2010.