The I-94 Emergency Route in Michigan, also known as Emergency Interstate 94, is a series of public highways that parallel I-94 across most of southern Michigan. It is sometimes necessary to use this second route due to accidents, planned lane closures, or other traffic jams. Without the secondary highway, the alternatives would involve driving on gravel roads or going far off course to get to a different freeway. On the other hand, with a parallel highway available, getting around problems on the road should be easy.
In theory, this is a great system of redundancy for transportation. But in practice, nobody actually knows where the Emergency Route is located! That’s because the route was never published on any road map. Ask any road warrior of southwest Michigan about the Emergency Route, and they will probably tell you about the times when they had to get off the Interstate and try to find their way through scenery of unfamiliar farms and small towns. That’s what it feels like during the day, with plenty of gas in the tank. Attempt this at night, and it becomes too intimidating for most drivers.
A favorite story of my own is about the night I was driving west from Ann Arbor in moderate Art Fair traffic. There was a major accident near Exit 139 and I encountered a total closure of the westbound side of the Interstate at that point. I knew all I had to do was turn south and then find my way back to the Interstate farther west where it was still open. I might have been the only person around who knew how to do this, though. Nobody was smart enough to follow me on my detour, and when I rejoined the westbound lanes, I was the only driver on that side for miles. Even the truckers were turning around and heading back east.
To make commuting easier, I created my own map of I-94 to keep in the car with me. I’m going to share it now for personal use by fellow drivers.