U.S. Route 12
|Iron Brigade Memorial Highway|
|Maintained by INDOT|
|Length||46.258 mi (74.445 km)|
|Existed||November 11, 1926–present|
|Lake Michigan Circle Tour|
|West end||US 12 / US 20 / US 41 in Whiting at the Illinois state line|
| I-65 in Gary|
I-90 / Indiana Toll Road in Gary
|East end||US 12 in Michiana Shores at the Michigan state line|
|Counties||Lake, Porter, LaPorte|
U.S. Route 12 (US 12) is a part of the United States Numbered Highway System that runs from Aberdeen, Washington, to Detroit, Michigan. In the U.S. state of Indiana, it is part of the state road system. US 12 enters the state concurrent with US 20 and US 41 in Whiting. The 45.16 miles (72.68 km) of US 12 that lie within Indiana serve as a major conduit. Some of the highway is listed on the National Highway System. Various sections are rural two-lane highway, urbanized four-lane undivided highway and one-way streets. The easternmost community along the highway is Michiana Shores at the Michigan state line.
US 12 passes through urban areas and wood lands, parallel to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The highway is included in the Lake Michigan Circle Tour and passes through Indiana Dunes National Park. Historical landmarks along the highway include the Miller Town Hall, Beverly Shores South Shore Railroad Station and the Old Michigan City Lighthouse. A memorial highway designations have been applied to the route since 1917, named for the Civil War Union Army unit.
US 12 was first designated as a US Highway in 1926, concurrent with US 20 west of Michigan City. A section of the highway originally served as part of the Dunes Highway, a connection between Gary and Michigan. US 12 replaced the original SR 43 designation of the highway which dated back to the formation of the Indiana state road system. SR 43 ran from the Illinois state line through Gary to Michigan City and ended at the Michigan state line. In the early 1920s, it was the most important route between Chicago and Detroit and in 1922 the first sections started being paved. The Indiana State Highway Commission, later renamed Indiana Department of Transportation, removed US 20 from the section east of Gary in the early 1930s. Most of the route has since been supplanted by Interstate 94 (I–94) and the Indiana Toll Road.
Only one segment of U.S. Route 12 is included in the National Highway System (NHS). That is the segment that is concurrent with U.S. Route 20 from the Illinois state line to the split with US 20 in East Chicago. The NHS is a network of highways that are identified as being most important for the economy, mobility and defense of the nation. The highway is maintained by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) like all other U.S. Highways in the state. The department tracks the traffic volumes along all state highways as a part of its maintenance responsibilities using a metric called average annual daily traffic (AADT). This measurement is a calculation of the traffic level along a segment of roadway for any average day of the year. In 2010, INDOT figured that the lowest traffic levels were 3,120 vehicles and 350 commercial vehicles used the highway daily near Ogden Dunes. The peak traffic volumes were 30,510 vehicles and 2,430 commercial vehicles AADT along the section of US 12 at the Illinois state line, concurrent with US 20 and US 41. The highway has been designated as the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway to honor the Civil War Union Army unit; it has the same designation in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.
US 12 enters Indiana concurrent with US 20 and US 41, at which point it passes under the Indiana Toll Road. The road passes both commercial and industrial areas between Wolf Lake and Horseshoe Casino. US 12, US 20, and US 41 are concurrent until US 41 turns south on Calumet Avenue. Both US 12 and US 20 head southeast toward East Chicago, where US 12 turns east while US 20 continues south. The route heads east through East Chicago as a four-lane undivided highway passing through mostly residential areas. The road heads south concurrent with State Road 912 (SR 912), passing through mainly industrial area between East Chicago and Gary. The two routes have an interchange at SR 312 and access to the Indiana Toll Road, via an interchange at Gary Avenue. The road has two bridges with the first passes over Grand Calumet River and the other passing over the Indiana Toll Road and the South Shore commuter rail line.
After passing the rail line, the road has an interchange with US 20, this interchange is the southern end of the SR 912 concurrency. US 12 follows US 20 east towards downtown Gary, as a four-lane divided highway. The two highways pass through residential areas and crosses the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway owned by Norfolk Southern Railway, before downtown Gary. At Bridge Street in Gary, the road becomes one-way streets, with westbound on Fourth Avenue and eastbound on Fifth Avenue. In downtown Gary it has an intersection with SR 53, locally known as Broadway. The streets also pass by the historical Knights of Columbus Building and the old Ralph Waldo Emerson School building. East of downtown Gary, the road passes by U.S. Steel Yard the home of the Gary SouthShore RailCats, an independent professional baseball team. The one-way streets end and the road becomes a six-lane divided highway, known as Dunes Highway. The Dunes Highway passes between the South Shore commuter rail line and residential houses. East of Gary the route has a signalized intersection with the northern terminus of Interstate 65 (I-65).
After I-65, the road has a trumpet interchange with I-90. In the far eastern portion of Gary, US 12 and US 20 split for the final time, although US 20 closely parallels US 12 for the next 20 miles (32 km), sometimes coming within 0.2 miles (0.32 km). US 20 follows a slightly more southerly route to Michigan City (via Portage and Porter), while US 12 passes through Indiana Dunes National Park and retains the name "Dunes Highway." After splitting from US 20, US 12 becomes a mostly rural two-lane highway, passing through the woodland.
The road passes just south of the historical Miller Town Hall, in the community of Miller Beach. After the community of Miller Beach, the highway enters Indiana Dunes National Park. The road passes through woodland and parallel to the South Shore tracks, before leaving the National Park west of Ogden Dunes. In Ogden Dunes the highway becomes a four-lane divided highway, passing through woodland with some houses. After Ogden Dunes the road has a folded diamond interchange with the north terminus of SR 249 and George Nalson Drive, which heads into the industrial complex at Burns Harbor. The industrial complex at Burns Harbor includes a NIPSCO power plant and a steel mill. After SR 249, the route has an intersection with SR 149 and a folded diamond interchange at an access road into Burns Harbor. After this interchange the highway narrows to a two-lane highway again.
The highway is near, but not on or within sight of, the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The route reenters Indiana Dunes National Park at a traffic light for the eastern entrance of Mittal Steel. After the traffic light the road passes south of Dune Acres and enters Indiana Dunes State Park. The road has an intersection with SR 49, with access to the lake front. After the intersection the road passes under the access road to the lake front. The highway leaves the dunes and enters Beverly Shores. In Beverly Shores at the intersection of US 12 and Broadway is the Beverly Shores South Shore Railroad Station. After leaving Beverly Shores the route enters the Town of Pines and has an all-way stop at the northern terminus of SR 520. SR 520 is the final connecting route to US 20 before the two separate regionally.
After the Town of Pines the road curves due north back into the dunes and crossing the South Shore tacks. The route curves northeast and becomes a four-lane undivided highway, before leaving the dunes. After the dunes the route crosses the Chicago–Detroit railroad track, owned by Amtrak. The Chicago–Detroit track is used by Amtrak's Wolverine train. The route makes a few more curves before entering downtown Michigan City and passing through a mix of industrial and commercial areas. In downtown Michigan City the route becomes a four-lane divided highway and passes south of the Old Michigan City Lighthouse, but just north of the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets. Before exiting Michigan City, the road narrows to a four-lane undivided highway and intersects SR 212, an eastern bypass of Michigan City. After SR 212 the route leaves Michigan City and passes through Long Beach. The highway leaves Long Beach, traveling through woodlands with houses and the town of Michiana Shores, before entering Michigan.
The Old Chicago Road was an important road from 1900 to 1910; it was later renamed the Dunes Highway. The Dunes Highway Association engineers envisioned the Dunes Highway a "state of the art" 40-foot-wide (12 m) concrete highway with a 100-foot (30 m) right-of-way. In August 1919, Commission director H.L. Wright tentatively designated the Dunes Highway as State Road 43, to be 20 feet (6.1 m) wide. Narrower than anticipated, the new concrete highway was still superior to most Indiana roads, which in the mid-1920s were gravel or dirt with paved sections only between the larger towns. Dunes Highway construction began in 1922 under the guidance of Gary contractor Ingwald Moe and construction engineer Ezra Sensibar.
The designation was changed to US 12 and US 20 in 1926 when the U.S. Highway system was created. The two routes were concurrent from Illinois to Michigan City, with the rest in Indiana as only being US 12. In 1930, US 20 was moved to a new alignment south of US 12. This left US 12 on its current alignment without US 20. The route did not change between 1931 and 2002, with only work being maintenance. Then in 2003, the state of Indiana rerouted US 12 onto SR 912 from Columbus Drive to US 20. The route was changed to make room for the Gary/Chicago International Airport runway expansion project.
|Lake||Hammond||0.000||0.000||US 12 west / US 20 west / US 41 north / LMCT (Indianapolis Boulevard) – Chicago||Continuation into Illinois|
I-90 east / Indiana Toll Road east to I-80 / I-94
|Exit 0 on I-90/Indiana Toll Rd.; access to I-90 west is in Illinois|
|1.314||2.115||US 41 south – Hammond||Eastern end of US 41 concurrency|
|East Chicago||4.356||7.010||Riley Road||To SR 912|
|5.107||8.219||US 20 east (Indianapolis Boulevard south)||Eastern end of US 20 concurrency|
|East Chicago–Gary line||7.965||12.818||SR 912 / Airport Road||Western end of SR 912 concurrency; SR 912 north exit 6, south exit 6A; Airport Road serves Gary Chicago International Airport|
|Gary||8.169||13.147||7A||SR 312 west / Chicago Avenue||Exit numbers follow SR 912; no westbound entrance; eastbound access via Cline Avenue frontage road; eastern terminus of SR 312|
To I-90 (Indiana Toll Road) / Gary Avenue
|Signed as exit 7 westbound; exit 10 on I-90/Indiana Toll Rd.|
|Gary–Hammond line||9.912||15.952||8|| US 20 west (Michigan Street west)|
SR 912 south (Cline Avenue south)
|Interchange; US 12 departs via exit ramps; US 20 continues west and SR 912 continues south; eastern end of SR 912 concurrency; western end of US 20 concurrency; no exit number westbound|
|Gary||14.878||23.944||SR 53 south (Broadway) – Merrillville|
|I-65 south – Indianapolis||At-grade intersection; northern terminus of I-65|
I-90 / Indiana Toll Road to I-80 / I-94 east
|Exit 17 on I-90/Ind. Toll Rd.|
|17.809||28.661||US 20 east (Melton Road) – Michigan City, South Bend||Eastern end of US 20 concurrency|
|Porter||Portage||23.769||38.252||SR 249 south / Midwest Steel Highway||Interchange; entrance only from northbound Midwest Highway and exit to SR 249 South from eastbound US 12 only|
SR 249 south to I-94 / Port of Indiana
|Folded diamond interchange; northern terminus of SR 249|
|Burns Harbor||26.196||42.158||SR 149 south (Max Mochal Highway) – Portage||Northern terminus of SR 149|
|26.480||42.615||ArcelorMittal – Burns Harbor||Folded diamond interchange; private entrance to steel plant|
|Porter||30.013||48.301||SR 49 – Indiana Dunes State Park, Valparaiso|
|Town of Pines||36.004||57.943|
SR 520 south (Maple Street) to US 20
|Northern terminus of SR 520|
|La Porte||Michigan City||44.360–|
|SR 212 south to US 20||Northern terminus of SR 212|
|Michiana Shores||46.258||74.445||US 12 east / LMCT – New Buffalo||Continuation into Michigan|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|