When you travel down the road, do you pay attention to the road signs? If you do, you will notice that there are many different types – all in different shapes and colors. Some tell you to stop, while others tell you how fast to go, and still others tell you where things are such as the next gas station or rest area.
One particular sign of interest is tourist oriented directional signs, or TODS. TODS signs are found on state trunklines and state roads other than limited access highways (mainly “M” routes). Cultural, historical, recreational, educational, or commercial activities are eligible for TODS. Until recently, it was quite laborious to list a historic resource on a Michigan Department of Transportation TODS sign. The vendor in charge of the TODS program, Interstate Logos, took the approach that historic resources were not eligible for TODS signage. They even told a potential applicant to not bother submitting an application because it would not be considered.
Despite the statute clearly indicating that historic resources were eligible, Interstate Logos dug in its heels until MHPN got involved. An active committee, including MHPN partners the Michigan Historic Commission and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, and led by MHPN members Pam O’Connor, Alan Robandt, MHPN Executive Director Nancy Finegood, and MHPN’s lobbyist, Michael Frederick, MHPN got engaged and met with MDOT officials, including Director Kirk Steudle.
A little more than a year ago, MHPN’s lobbyist met with the MDOT Director. At the first meeting, Director Steudle asked for additional information regarding how many signs and sites would be impacted by a change in policy. He also recognized that other states were more robust with their historic resource application with TODS. MHPN membership took on the task of gathering detailed information about signs, locations, and historic resources in Michigan that could be eligible for TODS.
In the fall of 2013, the MHPN team met with Director Steudle and MDOT staff that oversaw the TODS program and all agreed to significant program changes. They then worked with MDOT staff to suggest improvements to the website, eligibility, and even the application process – it was all designed to follow the intent of the law and promote historic resources in our local communities.
Today the TODs program includes eligible historic resources! So the next time you are out driving, pay attention to the road signs. Do they list a potential historic resource such as Mackinac Island or invite you to visit historic Buchanan?
MHPN’s involvement in the government affairs arena allowed us to drive policy changes to the benefit of our members. MHPN lead the way in two important areas. First, MHPN membership stepped up and helped by being a resource, crafting thoughtful policy suggestions, and being the voice for historic preservation.
Second, MHPN’s direct relationship with MDOT Director, Kirk Steudle, paid dividends. As the old political saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” We are the recognized voice for historic preservation!
After all, it’s about bringing new life to historic neighborhoods … It’s about main street remaining a good place to shop … It’s about historic farmsteads and lighthouses, factories and churches being vital parts of Michigan’s landscape … It’s about choosing how your community grows and changes … Most of all, it’s about you getting involved.
Please contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of service!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of service!
The Frederick Group
216 N. Chestnut (yes, it’s a historic building!)
Lansing, MI 48933
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