|Van Dyke Avenue, Van Dyke Freeway, Van Dyke Road
Maintained by MDOT
M-53 highlighted in red
|Length:||120.87 mi (194.52 km)|
|South end:||M-3 in Detroit|
| I-94 in Detroit
|North end:||M-25 in Port Austin|
|Counties:||Wayne, Macomb, Lapeer, Sanilac, Huron|
M-53 is a gateway route to The Thumb region of the US state of Michigan, carrying vacationers to the many cottages and resorts located on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron in the vicinity of Caseville and Port Austin. This highway is also used to transport agricultural and manufactured products from the Thumb region to the Detroit Metropolitan area. In Macomb County, M-53 is also a major north–south commuter route.
The Van Dyke Freeway, is an 8.75-mile (14.08 km) segment of M-53 that is a controlled-access freeway, unconnected to any other freeways in the state.
This portion of the M-53 freeway was constructed in the 1960s and was envisioned as part of a much larger project to connect the freeways within the city of Detroit with a proposed M-21 (now I-69 freeway near Imlay City. Only the portion from 18-1/2 Mile Road in Sterling Heights northerly to north of 27 Mile Road near Washington was built, although a massive freeway-to-freeway interchange was completed along I-696 in Warren in the early 1970s.
As of 2004, the Romeo bypass (continuing on north of the freeway) was upgraded to a limited-access, divided expressway (no private access, but without grade-separated interchanges) and long-range plans are to convert this segment to fully controlled-access freeway in the future.
The M-53 freeway in Macomb County is officially named the Christopher Columbus Freeway and signs are posted with this name at many of the interchanges. Radio traffic reports have been known to use the official name, the colloquial "Van Dyke Freeway" as well as "M-53 Freeway" interchangeably over the years.
Most of the M-53 roadway that runs through the gently rolling agricultural countryside of its northern stretches consists of two lanes, one in each direction. A six mile (10 km) long portion through the orchards near Romeo has been constructed as a limited access highway and is being improved with grade separations. South of Romeo, M-53 becomes a rural controlled access freeway, with two lanes in each direction over a nine mile (14 km) length. This is followed by three miles of a six lane boulevard configuration through the outer ring suburb of Sterling Heights, while the remainder of the roadway through Warren and Center Line six traffic lanes with a center turn lane. It is four traffic lanes in Detroit.
M-53 is serviced by Interstate 69 Exit 168, south of Imlay City and by Interstate 696 Exit 23 on the Warren/Center Line border at Eleven Mile Road. M-53 also intersects with M-142 in Bad Axe, M-81 near Cass City, M-46 north of Marlette, M-59 in Utica, and M-102 (Eight Mile Road) on the Warren/Detroit border. M-53 has a 4-lane setup in the countryside several miles south of Marlette and most of it consists of a concurrency of M-90.
When the "Freeway" Portion of Van Dyke ends just south of M-59, it becomes a 6 lane road with 3 lanes each way. It is here that funding changes hands, and the condition of the road deteriorates quite severely. Due to the large amount of heavy trucks driving down this road, the road becomes beaten and battered. In addition, Michigan weather takes its toll. Every year, much of the road needs to be rebuilt. However work has slowed quite considerably in the recent year. Many MI residents call for work to resume.. Businesses have blamed lost business on customer's lack of desire to use the road. Macomb County has, due to the pressure from taxpayers, agreed to a $700,000 resurfacing effort that will tide the road over until 2011 for a total reconstruction.
The freeway portion of M-53 is officially known as the Christopher Columbus Freeway (a nod to Macomb County's large Italian American population), but it is more commonly called either the Van Dyke Expressway, Van Dyke Freeway or M-53 Freeway. The remaining southerly portion carries the name Van Dyke Avenue and is also known as the Earle Memorial Highway, in honor of Horatio Earle, Michigan's first Highway Commissioner. Beyond the southern terminus of M-53, the roadway continues on as a residential street known as Van Dyke Street until it ends at Jefferson Avenue near the Detroit River. Outside of Detroit, along most of the non-freeway stretches of M-53, the road is commonly known as Van Dyke Road.
|Wayne||Detroit||0.00||M-3 (Gratiot Ave) – Roseville, Downtown Detroit||Southern terminus of M-53|
|0.58||I-94 – Port Huron, Chicago||Exit 218 on I-94|
|1.91||Lynch Road - Detroit City Airport|
|4.89||M-102 (8 Mile Road)|
|Macomb||Center Line||7.90||I-696 to I-75 – Port Huron, Lansing||Exit 23 on I-696|
|Sterling Heights||12.99||Metropolitan Parkway|
|15.24||15||Van Dyke Ave - Utica|
|17.55||17||M-59 (Hall Road) – Mt. Clemens, Pontiac||Signed as 17A (east) and 17B (west) northbound|
|Shelby Township||20.58||20||23 Mile Rd||Signed as 20A (east) and 20B (west) northbound|
|23.72||23||26 Mile Rd||Signed as 23A (east) and 23B (west) northbound|
|Washington Township||25.05||25||Van Dyke Ave - Romeo||Traffic light northbound|
|27.99||30 Mile Rd||cross intersection|
|Romeo||30.17||32 Mile Rd – Downtown Romeo||cross intersection|
|Lapeer||Imlay Township||44.95||I-69 – Port Huron, Flint||Exit 168 on I-69|
|Burnside||59.50||M-90 east – Brown City||South end of M-90 overlap.|
|Burnside Township||60.99||M-90 west – North Branch||North end of M-90 overlap|
|Sanilac||Lamotte Township||73.63||M-46 – Sandusky, Saginaw|
|Greenleaf Township||85.33||M-81 west – Caro||Eastern terminus of M-81|
|Huron||Bad Axe||103.57||M-142 east (Sand Beach Rd) to M-19 – Harbor Beach||South end of M-142 overlap.|
|Colfax Township||105.24||M-142 west – Elkton||North end of M-142 overlap.|
|Port Austin||120.47||M-25 south – Port Hope||South end of M-25 overlap|
|120.86||M-25 west / Spring Street – Caseville||North end of M-25 overlap; Northern terminus of M-53|