You wouldn’t think it today considering it’s been snowing, but it’s about time for road striping to begin. The Washington State Department of Transportation included a notice in their newsletter today that they will begin re-striping the centerlines and fog lines on the 1,570 miles of state highway as soon as the weather dries out.
About 85,000 gallons of reflective, yellow and white, water-based paint is used. To help drivers see the stripes at night, the paint is mixed with tiny glass beads. The beads raise the paint slightly above the level of the roadway and vehicle headlights reflect off them.
Because of our seasonal weather, highway paint striping is an annual process. The combination of winter traction sand, plowing, and studded tires wears down the paint and beads making the stripes harder to see or even removing the stripe altogether. On some highways, permanent, plastic inlaid stripe is installed on the road and sometimes a recessed reflective pavement marker. These often help, but they also lose reflectivity and need to be maintained.
Unlike highways in Puget Sound, we don’t use the raised pavement markers on this side of the state. Those work very well but are removed quickly by snowplow blades in the winter.