Pavement markings are a critical safety element on Utah roads and UDOT Central Maintenance is continually looking for ways to improve the way markings perform.
Pavement markings are divided into three categories:
- Roadway striping, including lane and shoulder markings
- Messages that provide information such as school zones
- Islands or islands and parking lots
Most of UDOT’s efforts and costs are aimed at maintaining over 58 thousand centerline miles of lane markings. UDOT’s goal is to paint all lane markings ever year. Long distances and other maintenance duties make that effort a challenge. Region maintenance employees establish a visual quality level goal on each route, and then evaluate markings using an A through F grade against the goal. The worst markings are painted first.
Years of UDOT research has shown that recessing paint slightly below the pavement helps markings last three to five times longer because markings are less vulnerable to snow plows. UDOT Region Two Pavement Maintenance Coordinator Dan Betts has pioneered a method of cutting into the pavement slightly to recess the area slightly below the pavement surface.
Betts and UDOT Maintenance Planning Engineer Ken Berg are trying different types of retroreflective glass beads added to the paint to find the best solution for improving visibility of markings at night and in the rain. The markings are made up of two elements – paint that acts as a binder and glass beads that are applied to the paint while wet. A variety of glass beads are available, all with slightly different properties. Berg and Betts are evaluating several types of beads to see which ones work best at night and in the rain.
“We are constantly looking for new products and technologies that are both cost effective and provide long term durability,” writes Berg in a new Pavement Marking White Paper on the topic. “We are asking pavement marking suppliers to apply a product of their choice and guarantee that it will perform for a 5 year period. Our intent is to eliminate yearly public impact from striping operations by providing the best pavement markings we can with minimal disruption to traffic.”