US States Use Different Shade of Road Paint
According to recent reports, global coatings company PPG (Pittsburgh) is preparing to sell more yellow paint in the coming years as states adopt wider stripe standards, with different states having their own color shade for striping.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ed Baiden, who heads PPG’s traffic solutions business calls it “the beauty of our system in the U.S.” with each state having its own shade of yellow paint for road markings.
“There’s a Kentucky yellow, a Pennsylvania yellow, an Iowa yellow,” Baiden said.
Currently, 24 states have adopted the wider standard of yellow stripes, moving from a minimum of four inches to six inches. PPG estimates that there are 8.8 million lane miles in the U.S., with about 18 gallons of paint to stripe a mile of road using four-inch-wide markings.
Adding the extra two inches can reportedly go a “long way” going across the country.
PPG launched its traffic solutions business in January 2021 after acquiring global coatings manufacturer Ennis-Flint (Greensboro, North Carolina) the month prior. The company was reported to have a board portfolio consisting of pavement marking products, including paint, thermoplastics and other advanced traffic technologies.
The business reportedly has 1,300 employees and about 22 manufacturing facilities, primarily operating in the U.S.
Painting the country yellow: PPG mixes a different shade of road paint for each state in the union https://t.co/WixucjcZ1n— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (@PittsburghPG) December 19, 2022
In addition to paint, PPG makes thermoplastic markings to extrude from a specialized truck and apply to the ground.
While northern states typically use paint, thermoplastic markings are more popular in southern states since snowplows don’t scrape the road. A study from the North Carolina Department of Transportation in 2021 also found that lane-departure crashes were reduced by 13% after rural roads were striped with long-life lane markings.
Baiden added that striping roads is a "seasonable" business, as the pavement can’t be cold or went when new paint or thermoplastic is applied. Because of this, more unpredictable weather in some states can limit the number of days pavement can be worked on.
That, Baiden said, is one of the “industry’s biggest bottlenecks,” but also an opportunity.
“When I travel around the country and I talk to customers, that’s the number one product they ask for: a product that can be applied in much colder temperatures or wet conditions,” he said. “That’s something we’re actively looking at.”
Moving toward wider lane markings is also a move towards accommodating autonomous vehicles. Lane markings should be precise and readable to aid in navigation.
“If you bought a car less than five years ago, it has some type of driver assist [feature],” Baiden said. “If you move or swerve lanes, the cameras in those cars are reading the lane markings.”
However, Baiden added that the kind of autonomy where “you have a car that you can put grandpa into, program it to take grandpa to the doctor, and bring him back safety — I don’t think we will see that for a while,” Mr. Baiden said.
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.
Last month, PaintSquare Daily News reported on a 700-foot-long stretch of decommissioned road in Ontario, Canada, that 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.
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.”
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Jan. 6, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. to correct numerical errors.