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BC Applies New Reflective Road Paint

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation recently began painting more than 3,000 kilometers (over 1,800 miles) of roads in the Lower Mainland portion of the province. Part of the work includes using a new paint the contains larger, reflective glass beads intended to help increase road paint visibility in the wake of ongoing issues with road markings in the province.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the change is part of a CA$4 million ($3.1 million) increase to the ministry’s annual budget. The funds will be used to cover five-year maintenance contracts that include adding second coats to rapidly fading paint and monitoring the condition of paint on roads.

Reflective Road Paint

Since 2010, fading highway lines have been a high source of concern for the ministry—that same year, Ottawa banned the oil-based highway paint commonly used by most provinces. In response, British Columbia switched over to a lower-pollution alkyd paint for coastal and northern roads, and a water-based paint for the interior. Neither lasted a whole year.

After research and development, the ministry decided on a high-build paint applied extra thick to survive the trials of winter, for the province's interior; and a glass-bead, reflective paint more suited for the coastal climate of places like Vancouver Island.

While the glass-bead coating is being rolled out, the high-build paint has already failed early tests; road crews reportedly had problems getting it applied at wet-film thicknesses exceeding 18 mils as specified. For now, the government is reverting back to a less durable paint that will be applied in two coats.

According to the most recent update to the province's recognized products list, products currently on trial includ Ennis-Flint HPS-8, an integrated multipolymer applied with thermoplastic equipment, and Swarco MFUA-12 polyurea. There are three other polyurea products on the list, as well as methyl methacrylates and thermoplastic coatings. 

Highway maintenance contractors interested in bidding on the work will be required to follow new requirements for second coats as well as additional painting.

Other Reflective Paints

In September 2017, a report from the Calgary Herald indicated that the city was looking into using luminescent paint on some of its more remote roads, eliminating the need for lighting systems while improving safety.

In the Netherlands, in 2014, design firm Studio Roosegaarde worked with infrastructure contractor Heijmans to add luminescent striping to the N329 Highway, in Oss, as part of its “Smart Highway” project. The smart coatings, the studio said, charge in daylight and glow overnight up to 10 hours; the project was the first of its kind.

But the real-life trial on that Dutch road quickly showed that the formula couldn’t stand up well to rainfall; the moisture caused parts of the glowing lines to fade, leading Heijmans to rethink the project.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; Maintenance coating work; Paint application; Roads/Highways

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