The task of striping Utah’s roads is one that UDOT is continually looking to improve and presents several unique challenges. We are leading the way in many aspects compared to like states around us, but there is ground to be made.
In order to make our striping reflective we use round glass beads embedded in paint and other binders as shown below. The light is reflected back to the driver’s eyes.
The visibility of the reflectivity is reduced, in the winter, by the accumulation of salt and dirt on the road. We rely on the spring rains to wash off the salt and dirt. It is also reduced, of course, by rain and snow.
The durability of our striping is impacted by plowing and traffic. We need to have a product that will withstand the winter plowing, and last throughout the rest of the year. In the past few years we have started recessing more of our striping below the road surface to help it last longer, however even this solution can be problematic during plowing, as dirt, snow and ice can fill recessed areas making the paint hard to see.
Striping is weather dependent. It can only be applied when the temperature is 50 deg. F minimum and when the road surface is dry. In the urban areas, it is also traffic dependent. It is done during off-peak hours, usually at night, when traffic volumes are at a minimum.
Utah is divided into 6 striping districts. Each district has a full-time crew that stripes continuously during the warm months. Each district’s goal is to paint every road, every year. They also have the ability to hire a contractor to help out with their work when they can’t get to all roads because of weather or equipment malfunctions.
Striping is also installed by contractors on our road reconstruction projects.
We are continually working on a better solution to improving the visibility of our lines in wet weather. We have tried several approaches including a different mix of beads and paint, recessed reflective material and wider stripes.