This Is our Village

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Dave Israel


  1. One of the most misunderstood processes in the field of traffic engineering is pavement marking. On numerous occasions, I have seen this process referred to as stripping (two P's). Stripping (two P's) is the act of removing, be it clothes, wallpaper, paint, etc. Striping (one P) is the act of making stripes.
    Striping (one P) is not as easy as it appears. (However, stripping (two Ps), is.) Many people assume the county can go to Wal-Mart, buy some paint and a roller, and. . . ta-dah! Stripes! (In two-P vernacular, Strips!) Hand-painted stripes may be acceptable for parking lots and private property, but they are not acceptable for public roadways, as governments must meet certain minimum requirements which do not pertain to private property.
    For the striping of public streets, both special equipment and materials are required. First and foremost is a paint striper. (Again, one P. A two-P machine removes pavement markings.) Stripers range in price from several thousand dollars for the hand-pushed models used for crosswalks and stop bars to several hundred thousand dollars for the motorized models used for the painting of lane lines.
    Unlike many other pieces of equipment, stripers must undergo comprehensive maintenance every year in order for the machine to function. This maintenance consists of disassembly of the painting mechanisms, thorough cleaning of each and every part (to remove dried paint and prevent malfunction), and reassembly. Less-than-comprehensive maintenance will cause the striper to malfunction. This comprehensive (and expensive) maintenance requirement is one reason why many governments do not own a striper.
    The paint used in stripers is not an ordinary paint one would find at Wal-Mart. It is a special paint formulated to dry fast (within two minutes) and not corrode a paint striper. Ordinary house paints, if used in a striper, will corrode the striper due to the chemical composition of the paint. Thus, the need for non-corrosive paints.
    These special paints are not typical available at your neighborhood Wal-Mart. Rather, traffic marking paint is purchased from traffic supply companies. Due to its chemical composition, "traffic marking paint" is considered a hazardous waste, and thus special storage and disposal procedures are required.
    Paint, however, is not the only material used in striping traffic lines. Glass beads are also required.
    A painted line without beads, while visible during the day, is not visible in the night. Why? Because paint is not reflective. Glass beads, when added to the paint line, makes a painted line reflective, and thus visible at night.
    The lines painted by the city of Park Hills are not reflective. The reason they can be seen at night? Light from the street lights. If these same lines were painted in rural remote locations, they would not be able to be seen at night. And night time is when lane lines are needed the most.
    Any lane line placed on a public roadway must be reflective. (Legal minimum requirement)

  2. Strictly speaking then, it's striping, right? But the guys who do it, stripe in strips, don't they—or are they stripes? All a mite straining on the mind, it strikes me.


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