Michigan hopes ‘22’ highway sign less coveted as M-22

Associated Press

Glen Arbor — Thieves have been stealing highway signs that mark a popular road in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.

As a result, state officials hope new signs that simply say “22” won’t be as attractive to vandals as M-22.

M-22 is the iconic highway that runs through hot vacation spots in Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau counties. Transportation Department spokesman James Lake said sign thefts typically have occurred in Leelanau, the home of vineyards, beaches and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Lake estimates that crews have replaced 90 signs during the past three years and not one has been stolen. He says they don’t plan to replace all M-22 signs, only where the originals have been taken.

Replacement signs bearing “22” cost roughly $325 to make and install. He said anyone who wants M-22 merchandise, especially the popular bumper sticker but even wine featuring the original logo, can buy it from retailers dotting the area, the Traverse City Record Eagle reported.

Lake hopes the starker “22” signs have a little more staying power on roadsides.

“We hope people would understand our interest in protecting taxpayer investments in protecting these signs,” he said.

If travelers on the scenic two-lane near Lake Michigan’s shoreline are befuddled with the thefts and replacements, Beryl Skrocki hasn’t noticed.

“I think it’s awful our tax dollars have to pay for it, but I don’t think it will affect anybody finding their way about,” said Skrocki, owner of Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak in Empire.

Only those signs that have been taken will be replaced with the new sign.

MDOT does not plan to replace all M-22 signs; only those that have been taken.