MDOT using new M-22 markings to deter thefts

M-22 Pavement Marking

BENZIE COUNTY (WPBN/WGTU) -- Signs along an iconic northern Michigan road have become a popular but illegal souvenir.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has tried several tactics to keep the M-22 signs from getting stolen. So far they haven't had much luck.

"We were trying to get creative and figure out a way to mark the routes in a different way that might be theft proof" said Traffic and Safety Engineer with MDOT Traverse City TSC Krista Phillips.

MDOT decided to try out using cold plastic markings. The same thing they use to mark arrows and other words along roads.

They added the markings on the intersections of Fowler Road with M-22 and Platte Road with M-22 in Benzie County.

"We are doing this as a trial basis to see how the pavement markings performs during different weather conditions," said Phillips.

MDOT chose this stretch of road because that's one of the areas the traditional metal road signs keep getting stolen, said Phillips.

They have already tried using different bolts to hold the signs and even redesigning the signs without the 'M,' but neither seemed to deter thieves.

"They might last a week if they're up especially in the summertime," said Owner of Riverside Canoe Trips on M-22 Kyle Orr. "If they put them up in the winter time it might last a little bit longer but this time of year they don't make it any longer than a week."

Orr said so far the new markings seem to be working just fine.

"We haven't had nearly as many people come in asking what road they are on," said Orr. "Normally they'll pull out on one of the side roads and it just says north and south. So it's helped."

Phillips said within their three county coverage they are missing 31 signs.

"I know that the number missing right now is about 20% total of what we have up here so it's quite a few," said Phillips.

The cost to replace a stolen sign is about $350, but it lasts up to 10 years. The new markings cost $175, but only last 3 years, said Phillips.

Since MDOT can't seem to stop the thefts Phillips said this is the best solution. Orr said he has a solution of his own.

"We have some small little signs that are re-creations that people can buy for $20 instead of making it a federal offense to steal Highway property," said Orr. "So just don't steal the signs folks."

Phillips also said the new markings could be a problem when there is snow or ice on the roads, but its still an improvement because they didn't have any signage on that stretch of road before.

If the new markings don't prove to be MDOT's best option Phillips said they will have to go back to the drawing board to come up with something completely new.

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