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Weather Spoils New Paint Jobs

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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From humidity to rain, the weather forecast has brought headaches for road crews and drivers across the country when it comes to freshly painted road markings.

Last month, a road crew in St. Charles, MO, fell victim to a pop-up shower that came down just 20 minutes after they had painted new yellow lines on a city street, leaving behind a “big, yellow mess.”

Now, residents of towns in New York and Illinois are also questioning whether local transportation departments pay attention to weather forecasts before putting down fresh paint.

Wet Paint

A combination of cool temperatures and high humidity were blamed for keeping new yellow stripes from drying in North Tonawanda, NY, the local ABC affiliate reported.

There, road crews reportedly repainted the double yellow solid lines along a mile-long stretch of Nash Road the night of Aug. 31. But by the next day’s morning commute, drivers found the paint had not set.

“It was starting to pool up and people were getting it on their cars as well,” motorist Austin Tylec told station WKBW.

Humidity and rain played a role in the wet paint, according to North Tonawanda Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Rowles. He noted that the paint used for this routine maintenance normally sets in about 45 minutes.

“I think our problem we had last night was humidity. So it didn't set,” Rowles told the station. “So that's when we started to find we had a problem and then we had a strong storm move through and it just didn't set well enough before the traffic got on it.”

After discovering the problem, the DPW reduced traffic to one lane to keep cars away from the wet paint.

Those who drove through paint-stained puddles were treated to a car wash on site as a preventive measure, courtesy of the DPW, the Niagara Gazette reported.

“They had people power washing the cars down the one lane, which was sort of funny but irritating in the same way,” Tylec said. “It's like, they made the mistake, they're trying to fix it, which I understand. But free car washes for everyone I guess.”

Despite getting his vehicle through the area relatively unscathed, Tylec questioned why DPW officials weren’t aware of weather conditions before undertaking the work.

"We'll go back and see if we did something wrong or if it was just the product,” Rowles told the Gazette. “This is something we haven't had to deal with in the many years that we've done it. We don't know if it was that the air was so damp that it slowed us down or if there was something with our product."

Rainy Conditions

In Coal Valley, IL, residents also questioned why road crews didn’t have a better handle on the weather before painting lines on a local highway.

There, three miles of U.S. Highway 6 show what looks like “paint overspray along the centerline—expanding more than a few feet in some areas, station WQAD reported.

“I see a really bad paint job,” one resident told the news channel. “It looks like they were painting in a windstorm.”

However, rain was the culprit here. According to WQAD, Illinois Department of Transportation crews were repainting the centerlines along the highway, but it started to rain before the paint had time to dry.

“Basically, what happened is, we got caught in the rain the paint had not quite dried yet so it kind of just ran or bled a little big across the pavement," IDOT Operations Engineer Trisha Thompson told the station.

While area drivers suggested crews should have waited for better conditions, Thompson noted the forecast called for a 20 percent chance of rain, which was a reasonable gamble for the agency.

"We're trying to get as much done as we can through the months we can actually paint, so with that when we have 20 percent chance of rain we're still going to attempt to get paint on the ground," she explained.

At the time, IDOT had not yet inspected the area to determine whether it was necessary to repaint.


Tagged categories: Coating Application; Coating failure; Department of Transportation (DOT); North America; Paint application; Roads/Highways; Striping; Traffic paint

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/7/2016, 8:16 AM)

Older generation waterborne traffic paint resins have this issue. "Newer" ones (still 15+ years old) set up much faster. But they cost more, and often are not specified.

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