Thursday, July 27, 2017

Route 254: Where Will It End?

A few weeks ago, there was local news coverage (here) about an effort to extend Route 254 from where it currently ends at Route 57 all the way west to Route 58. The reason behind the proposal is that it would eliminate some of the confusion created by the various names of the currently unnumbered highway as it passes through two townships on its way west to Amherst.

Strangely, no one interviewed for the newspaper article mentioned that for decades, that 4.4 mile stretch of road was Route 254, before its terminus was later pushed east to Route 57. I’m sure many readers were scratching their head over that.

When did the state highway officials move the terminus to Route 57? I’m guessing that the change occurred in the 1990s, although I don’t have the maps to prove it. I can’t remember the reasoning either; I think the state was trying to save money and pass along the road’s maintenance to the county. Either that, or resistance to widening the road (it’s pretty narrow west of South Broadway) made it rather deficient as a major state highway.

Here’s an early 1960s Arrow City Map (dating from before Route 2 was built) clearly showing Route 254 extending to Leavitt Road (Route 58).

And here's a wider view of the map. These vintage maps are always fun to look at!
Interestingly, when the current limited access highway Route 2 was under construction, for a while no one knew what it was going to be called. I posted a 1966 article about this confusion here.

One of the possible designations for the highway mentioned in the article – in addition to the rather cool-sounding "Northwest Freeway” – was none other than Route 254.

It probably would have been better if it had been designated Route 254. Calling it Route 2 destroyed the old, comfortable “6 & 2” name for the local lakefront road.


Rick Kurish said...

Continuing route 254 to the route 58 intersection makes sense to me. In fact, although I always knew that section of road as Cooper-Foster Park Road, I'm not sure that I knew that the road wasn't already designated route 254 all the way to Leavitt Road (oops, I mean route 58). Connecting the two state routes would make driving that section of road less confusing, I suppose.

I remember reading that at sometime during the designating of state routes early last century, Amherst lobbied to have Kolbe Road designated as State Route 58 rather than Leavitt Road. Why, because Kolbe Road eventually becomes Main Street in Amherst and goes right through the center of downtown, while Leavitt Road was bucolic farmland. Only the fact that the main route through Wellington and Oberlin were already designated route 58 put an end to the idea. Knowing what Leavitt Road (route 58) through Amherst has become, the city of Amherst has dodged a bullet. The city I know so well would be unrecognizable today.

Doug Majka said...

Your second map has Oberlin Avenue marked as Oberlin Rd. That must be the same map the newspapers reference when reporting local news stories.

Dan Brady said...

I thought it was interesting that the Skyline Park area has streets named after English universities (Oxford, Cambridge), elite liberal arts colleges (Kenyon, Vassar), as well as Stanford and Miami.

Elyria has a much larger residential area with the same exact college/university names, and even more Ivy League schools. At least there is one Big Ten school that is included: Purdue.