Ontario Road Displays ‘Mess’ of Pavement Markings


A 700-foot-long stretch of decommissioned road in Ontario, Canada, looks like an “unintentional piece of public art” thanks to its unusual application of white and yellow street markings. The Pleasantville Curve, which appears to be a “road to nowhere,” is actually a test deck for pavement markings, giving it its abstract look.

Acting as a practice spot for road painters, the roadway works like a test easel for both workers and the paint itself. Traditionally, these test decks are reportedly deployed by transportation planners to assess the durability and visibility of commercial highway paint.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, in the United States, the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program use transverse test decks as the field method to conduct testing based on the ASTM D 713 standard. This procedure requires:

  • An AADT greater than 5,000 vehicles per day;
  • Free rolling with no grades, curves, intersections, or close access points to minimize turning and braking movements;
  • Four-lane divided highway;
  • Full exposure to the sun with good drainage; and
  • Roadway must have been in operation for at least 1 year.

Long-line test decks can also be installed in the same location and direction as standard pavement markings, allowing them to be placed under typical circumstances and normal traffic conditions. This reportedly gives realistic installation and wear conditions regarding the markings.

If the paint can withstand tire friction and snow plow blades for two years, it is reportedly deemed up to code.

However, the Pleasantville Curve—and the nearby Bogarttown Curve—lacks the parallel lines and scientific layout of those test deck methods. Instead, images show stripes of white and yellow lines and dashes that look almost abstract.

Reported to be originally built in the mid-20th century to bypass the nearby Vivian Road and Woodbine Avenue intersection, the road was later decommissioned in the 1990s and the northern end of the curve was removed.

Barbara Antic, District Manager, Roads Operations Central District for York Region, told blogTO that “the Pleasantville Curve is located on land owned by The Regional Municipality of York,” and that “York Region Public Works' Pavement Marking Program use this roadway as a test strip for pavement markings.”

Additionally, she added that the pavement markings are made up of waterborne paint. Reports indicated that Google Streetview images have shown that the asphalt regularly gets fresh coats of paint, remaining a “work in progress.”

Other Line Marking News

In September, it was reported that Australian company Tarmac Linemarking completed a trial run of its photoluminescent line markings earlier this year, with the “glow-in-the-dark” highway lines going viral online. The project, tested in May, was a collaboration with OmniGrip and Vic Roads.

Similar to glow-in-the-dark stickers, the “smarter path” line markings use the natural science of photoluminescence. In the dark, the coating emits light it has absorbed and stored throughout the day, allowing the pavement markings to be seen better.

According to Regional Roads Victoria, the project was one of 70 trials part of a $4 million government program to install new innovative treatments across the state. For this particular project, the government hoped it would provide drivers with a “stronger visual signal to follow in low light.”

Additional projects include LED-lit pavement near intersections, as well as other reflective road markings.

At the beginning of this year, a robotic pavement-marking system developed in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to advance ongoing research.

Case Western Reserve University professor Wyatt Newman co-founded RoadPrintz Inc. alongside mechanic and chair of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee Sam Bell in 2019 when they saw a need for increased worker safety and efficiency.

The new truck-mounted, operator-driven robot, which has been named Stella, is expected to have its first production model launch in April. The company plans to beta test the system with contractors this spring.

The new NSF Small Business Innovation Research Phase II funding totaling $999,900 will go towards developing new features for the robot, including:

  • Precision vision-based symbol painting;
  • Precision mapping and coordinate-based painting;
  • Automated creation and use of a database of precision road markings; and
  • Enhancement and validation of road-painting capabilities.

According to RoadPrintz, the traditional method of road painting using “hand work” stenciling is 40,000 years old, with an estimated $15,000 per mile for crews to paint the road markings.

In an interview, Bell estimated that their robotic system can do the work for $5,000 per mile, or less, utilizing a robotic arm that can safely use hot paint that dries in less than a minute. The truck is also equipped with a computer that provides GPS measurements to outline the markings.

Workers can sit safely inside the vehicle controlling the computer, while the robotic arm paints the road.


Tagged categories: Coating Application; Coating Materials; NA; North America; Paint; Paint application; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Roads/Highways; Testing + Evaluation; Waterborne coatings

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