Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Month in Rochester History

Anyone who regularly travels on M-59 has doubtless enjoyed the recent completion of the road widening through Rochester Hills which has had the highway under construction for the past year and a half. It's an appropriate time to look back thirty-eight years to December 1, 1972, when the public dedication and ribbon cutting ceremonies took place for the original M-59 expressway between Pontiac and Utica.

On the drawing boards since the early 1960s, the road construction got underway in May 1971 and was completed at a cost of $9 million (not including the property purchases for right-of-way). In contrast, the recent widening project begun last summer to add a third lane between Crooks and Ryan cost $50 million.

At the same time that the Utica to Pontiac expressway was under construction, Macomb County officials were planning to extend it eastward all the way to I-94. At that time, Hall Road still ran through mostly undeveloped property, and the route was feasible. However, the plan never moved forward and retail and housing development along Hall Road ruled out the project after a few years.

This photo, taken by Macomb Daily photographer Robert Sassanella, shows local officials huddling against the December cold for the 1972 ribbon cutting ceremony. Shown from left are: Ron Poli, Kirby Holmes, Gail McCauley, George Nickson, Carol Harris, Thomas Guastello and Donald Bemis. (Photo used with permission from the Macomb Daily).

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