2017-09-28 / Front Page

US-2 Gets Scenic Byway Designation

By John Raffel

An 85-mile section of US-2 now will be called the US-2 Top of the Lake Pure Michigan Byway and it will be dedicated in special ceremonies Friday, October 6.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is inviting the public to the announcement of the new US-2 Top of the Lake Pure Michigan Byway at 1 p.m. Local leaders, state and tribal officials, state legislators and MDOT officials are expected to speak at the program in the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, at W11660 US-2 in Naubinway.

It’s the newest highway segment designated a Pure Michigan Byway under the state’s rebranded byway program. The Byway runs from St. Ignace to Manistique along the picturesque northern shoreline of Lake Michigan. The recreational and scenic qualities of the stretch are the reasons it was chosen for the designation, according to state and local officials.

Dan Weingarten, of the MDOT Upper Peninsula Office of Communications, said the October 6 ceremonies will include a ribbon cutting to commemorate the official destination of the new byway.

“There was an earlier program where they were called something like a scenic byway,” Mr. Weingarten said. “They’ve all been rolled together under this new Pure Michigan Byway program. This is the latest one under that new designation that took hold a couple of years ago. There’s a local committee centered in Naubinway with people from along the route that’s been working on this, along with the Eastern Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Committee.

MDOT will mark the route with special signs.

“We put out a byway driving guide online and have the welcome centers that highlight all the scenic and recreation spots,” Mr. Weingarten said. “It helps build an identity for that particular stretch of highway. There has to be some kind of outstanding feature or attraction there. On US-2 along the north shore of Lake Michigan, it’s incredibly picturesque with all sorts of recreational opportunities.”

Officials and planning group member say the byway will provide 12 months worth of recreational opportunities.

“Obviously, there are things to do any time of year,” Mr. Weingarten said. “The hope is with the statewide recognition, more people will come to the byway area and spend more time there and, maybe, they’ll stop along some of these attractions along the way.”

Rebecca Bolen, a planner with the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission in Sault Ste. Marie, has been working with the byway designation process.

“It’s a tool for preservation and promotion,” she said. “It started with the drive to identify and preserve scenic and historical resources centered around popular driving routes in Michigan.”

John Batchelder, chairman of the committee working on the US 2 designation process and a volunteer at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, said the Top of the Lake Communities Association holds meetings at the museum.

“They cover the geographical area of the Engadine Schools system,” he said. ‘They’re kind of like a chamber, promoting business and charitable activities in that area. Our association is the sponsoring association for the Top of the Lakes scenic byway.”

“The City of St. Ignace, the city of Manistique and all of the adjoining townships along the route (ending near Thompson), are the limits of the scenic byway,” Mr. Batchelder said. ‘The primary thing that is outstanding are the exposed beaches along the way.”

Other features include nature watching spots, tribal focus spots, U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and facilities, roadside parks with scenic views over the lake, hiking trails, and bicycle trails.

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