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11/28/2012 12:34:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Photo by Kacie Thrift
A new material has been used to re-construct the lane stripes on U.S. Highway 2 from milepost 104 to 117. The new material is expected to better withstand the wear and tear from vehicles and weather.
New lane stripes brighten U.S. Highway 2 for driver safety
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently wrapped up a statewide project to brighten lane stripes on roads in some of Washington state's busiest traffic areas, including U.S. Highway 2 from milepost 104 to 117.

Stripes on interstates, state routes, and ramps across the state have started to lose reflectivity due to high-traffic volumes and harsh weather conditions. In efforts to make driving visibility safer, crews restriped about 40 miles of roadway, in eight counties, along five routes.

During the second week of November, WSDOT and the contractor for the project, Specialized Pavement Marking, Inc. out of Tualatin, Ore. wrapped up the safety project for the year and completed the restriping for the 13-mile long part of U.S. Highway 2 designated in the Cashmere/Leavenworth area.

Other areas WSDOT restriped were locations on Interstate 5 in Marysville, Lynwood, Lacey, Tumwater, and the express lanes in Seattle, Washington State Route 240 in Richland, U.S. Highway 12 in Walla Walla and Interstate 205 near Vancouver. The main reason for the project was to improve visibility for drivers.

Alice Finman, a communications officer for WSDOT, said the new lane stripes project is not a new construction project because the contractor was working on improving what was already there.

"These stripes should last longer. We are trying out a new kind to see how they perform but it's a more durable product and the brightness lasts longer," Finman said.

The new product used for the striping is a more durable, plastic-like striping material called methyl methacrylate. This material should last longer and better withstand the wear and tear from vehicles and weather than the paint which had been used in the past for lane striping.

The project took about seven weeks starting in late September and finishing around mid November. There is an area near Vancouver, Wash. that will be finished in spring 2013. Finman said the crews stopped the project due to the rainy weather.

Recently, the legislature provided funding to WSDOT to improve driver visibility. Finman said the new lane striping is only one of the ways WSDOT intends on improving driver visibility. She said WSDOT is using the funds to address a backlog of immediate highway maintenance needs across the state.

"Legislators gave this money to address some backlog maintenance issues dating back to 2009. They gave the original budget for the backlog issues to address them. In 2011, they gave us money specifically for the striping," Finman said.

Other issues WSDOT will be addressing with the funds include signage on roads, guard rails, and other visibility issues for drivers. Finman said maintenance work is a high priority for WSDOT in order to maintain the current conditions of the system.

The new lane striping safety project cost $2.7 million and was directed to WSDOT by the 2012 Transportation Budget and paid for by the 2012 legislature. The new material for the restriping project was more expensive than the paint used previously, but Chris Christopher, WSDOT director of maintenance operations, said this material will tough out the winters better than the old paint.

During the seven-week project, WSDOT did a lot of outreach to people in the communities where the contractor was restriping the road. Finman said no complaints were made concerning the construction in the Cashmere/Leavenworth area. In order to limit the impacts to community members driving on the roads, striping crews avoided peak-travel times and worked at night through the early morning.

"We have a big emphasis on working safely and making sure people slow down through those work zones to protect themselves and the people working on the roads. The project went smoothly," Finman said. "Safety is important to us."

WSDOT will monitor the new product by doing some testing to make sure the product is withstanding. Finman said after the study is done WSDOT will possibly expand this kind of striping program in the future if the outcome of the project is positive.

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com

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