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      Why is MDOT switching out road signs across northern Michigan?

      You may have noticed that some of the signs along our highways are changing.

      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."