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History & Culture

Michigan State Highway Department road maintenance equipment.
Department of Transportation

History & Culture

From mud roads to interstates, Michigan has come a long way since the State Highway Department was created in 1905. In the early 1900s, Michigan emerged as a leader in transportation firsts and innovations, both nationally and worldwide. In fact, leaders including Horatio S. "Good Roads" Earle and Frank F. Rogers, saw a pressing need to get Michigan out of the mud. As proponents of the good-roads movement, these two pioneers focused on making Michigan mobile. Accomplishments such as the first mile of concrete highway built, first painted centerline, first roadside park, and the first four-way red/yellow/green electric traffic light built a solid foundation for a sustainable transportation system in Michigan.

In the years following, MDOT added other achievements, including the successful Adopt-A-Highway program to keep the state's highway roadsides clean and attractive, and opening the 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge that links Michigan's two peninsulas. Today, MDOT continues to write history, leading the nation in traffic safety and connected vehicle technology research, as well as pioneering "paperless" construction contracts and project designs.

Winter maintenance with an early snowplow.
Workman crossing cross bridge between catwalks near top of North tower.
Archeological dig on the proposed right of way of M-231 near Nunica in Ottawa County.