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MDOT may I?

Twp. seeks direction from state if new gateway signs possible

February 15, 2012 - Oxford Township might be in the market for some new gateway signs along M-24, but first it needs to get some direction from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) as to what could be allowed and where.

"Without talking to MDOT, we can't go any farther," said township Trustee Mike Spisz.

The township's planning commission wishes to pursue a plan to erect two brand-new, professionally-made gateway signs along the state highway, one at the southern end of the community and one at the northern end. These signs would let motorists know they're entering the township.

An estimated project cost of $33,250 for both signs was submitted last week to the township board by Spisz, who also serves on the planning commission.

That estimate included $25,000 for two signs, $3,000 for the lighting and landscaping around them, plus $5,250 for engineering.

The township currently has two new, wooden gateway signs at its north and south ends. Both are visible from M-24, but located on private property.

These welcome signs were created by Troop 366 Life Scout Kenny Wellens, of Oxford. In November 2011, Wellens was given approximately $1,000 by the township board to purchase the materials needed to make them.

At the time, it was noted that if the township ever moved forward with having professional gateway signs made, Wellens' signs could be moved to the township's eastern and western gateways.

Spisz said the planning commission recommended that if professionally-made signs are created, they be moved closer to M-24 for increased visibility. Commissioners have discussed placing them in the road's right-of-way or perhaps, even in the state highway's median.

"We don't believe we can (put a sign in the median) on the south side, but we believe we can do it on the north side," he said. "We don't think we have enough room on the south side to put it in the median. The median is not wide enough."

Supervisor Bill Dunn was doubtful that MDOT would allow such a thing.

"(Based on) my dealings with MDOT, you will not be able to put this in their right-of-way," he said.

Dunn also noted that if MDOT does allow a sign, it could not be made of stone, brick or concrete like the example Spisz submitted to the board, a photo of Bloomfield Township's sign.

"They require breakaway signs," Dunn said.

Breakaway signs were developed to protect drivers who go off the road and hit them. They instantly break, bend or collapse upon impact, so as to cause the least amount of damage to the vehicle and injury to the driver.

"No matter what you put out there, it had better break away if a car goes off the road," Dunn said. "This doesn't look like it would break away."

Spisz noted Bloomfield Township's sign is located along Telegraph Road, also known as US-24, which falls under MDOT's jurisdiction.

Trustee Melvin (Buck) Cryderman indicated he favored retaining the existing gateway signs made by the scout. "I think we can keep them signs for a while," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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