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."