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      Why is MDOT switching out road signs across northern Michigan?

      The Michigan Department of Transportation is starting the process of switching some metal sign posts over to wood.

      E very 15 years, MDOT has to replace the signs and posts to keep up with safety standards.

      Y ou may think replacing the current metal posts with wooden ones doesn't make a lot of sense, but MDOT says it does for two very important reasons.

      "W e are upgrading the signs and the posts both for safety and maintenance reasons," said James Lake, MDOT North Region Communications Director.

      T he most recent sign replacement project is on M-72 running through Kalkaska, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties and on M-115 in Benzie County.

      T hey are replacing roughly 1,800 signs at a cost of more than $520,000.

      "P osts both metal or wood degrade overtime and we bring them up to current standards," Lake said.

      M any of the steel posts are being replaced with wood. MDOT engineers say they are sturdier to withstand our harsh winters.

      "When a plow truck comes through and picks up a lot of snow and pushes it up against those signs, the metal sign does n't hold up as well as a wood post would," said Jason Bodell, MDOT Traffic and Safety Engineer.

      A nd in the event of a crash they are safer than steel, due to a break away system.

      H ow much does this change cost? F or a basic route sign, it costs $26 for steel and $57 dollars for wood.

      "I t's definitely worth it," Bodell said. "E very year we replace a lot of metal post signs, because they do get damaged in the winter with the plowing, and obviously there is a bit of a safety benefit with the wood posts."