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MDOT brightens signs for seniors downtown

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MDOT brightens signs for seniors

By Tom Greenwood / The Detroit News

Over the past month, the Michigan Department of Transportation has implemented special safety features along a seven-mile loop in downtown Detroit to make driving easier and safer for senior motorists.

The project includes enhanced traffic signals, newer pavement markings and sign upgrades along a circular route that includes Jefferson Avenue, northbound M-10 (the Lodge), eastbound Interstate 94, southbound I-75, southbound I-375 and then back to Jefferson.

I took a guided tour of the showcase route, and the difference between the old and new is dramatic:?

-- Yellow warning signs on the route use a brighter sheeting, donated by 3M, and are nearly 70 percent brighter than the old signs. The difference between the new signs and old ones left for comparison is startling.

-- Different lettering used on the directional and street name signs improves nighttime visibility by 26 percent. Whereas the old letter styles were short and blocky, the new fonts are slimmer and taller - and easier to read.

The old letters were 8 inches high; the new ones come in 8-, 11- and 12-inch-high letters. The first letter is capitalized.

-- Light emitting diodes (LEDs) in traffic signals, instead of incandescent bulbs, are brighter, last longer and use one-tenth the power of the old bulbs. The new traffic signals also have black back plates surrounding the lights, improving their visibility by 33 percent.

-- Pedestrian countdown signals at intersections tell pedestrians how much time is available to cross the street. Look for these new signals at Jefferson and Woodward and Jefferson and Griswold.

-- Pavement markings are newer, brighter, wider. All the markings along the route are now 6 inches wide instead of 4.

-- The lettering on directional signs has capital letters that are 25 percent larger than the rest of the lettering. Check out the lettering on the signs on the northbound Lodge, where drivers can head either east or west on I-94.

Here are a few more things you should know: All the lights, signals, markings and signs under MDOT's control will be converted to the new system over the next 15 years, as the old equipment wears out.

This first system was voluntarily installed by MDOT for $250,000, and it didn't cost Michigan taxpayers a dime: The $250,000 was "bonus money" from the federal government as a reward for Michigan's higher-than-average seat belt use.

You can reach Tom at [email protected]; (313) 222-2023; or by writing to The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226.

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