LANSING, Mich. — The state highway M-22 that winds through Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau Counties is so popular that people are stealing the highway signs. A trial program to stop the thieving may be working.
First, the why. Why steal the signs? For years now, the part of Michigan the highway serves includes increasingly popular tourist attractions such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, towns like Empire, Leland, Glen Arbor, and Northport, and countless summer homes. The highway’s notoriety has been fed by a feud between the State of Michigan and a company that uses the M-22 state highway logo on its merchandise.
Now, the what. In a Facebook post, the Michigan Department of Transportation explains that replacement of stolen M-22 signs costs $325 to $350 each, and they are being stolen as a rate that costs the state $10,000 a year. The cost factors in production of the signs and the staff, fuel, and vehicles required to take them up to M-22 and mount them.
So MDOT asked workers for ideas, and this one is what they tried: take the “M” off the logo when stolen signs are replaced, so the sign no longer displays the iconic M-22. Just 22.
There is one indication that the idea may be working: None of the replacement signs with the adjusted logo has been stolen.
“This is a pilot project but may not be the answer,” says the MDOT post.
And they’re asking for a word from you on what you think.They are taking comments under the Facebook post.