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Extra paving causes line painting delays

Why does it take so long for VDOT to paint lines on newly paved roads?

An above-average number of road-paving projects across the area this year has delayed painting yellow and white lines on some primary roads in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Lynchburg District.

“We did a much greater quantity of paving this year districtwide … as compared to previous years,” said Terry Meadows, VDOT’s district construction engineer. “And what that’s done is … there’s a limited number and limited resources with pavement marking as far as contractors go. All the resurfacing that we’re doing has put a strain on our pavement marking subcontractors who are supposed to follow in and paint these roadways within the contractual time frames.”

Meadows said the issue is one that VDOT has been working hard on all season.

Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward are in the Lynchburg District.

“A lot of paving contractors who have, as they can by contract, they have put off

paving very late in the season … So they’ve really put an added strain on the subcontractors … We have had cases where they have not met the timeframes for getting the roads remarked. We’re very concerned about that and we’re working hard to ensure that our contractors comply with their contract,” he said.

Within the past several weeks, numerous paving operations have been performed across the area. Some roads still don’t have white lines along their edges, which prompted concern from Buckingham resident Linda Davis.

“When a road is repaved it needs the permanent lines immediately. I can’t believe they are saving money putting temporary lines down, then weeks later permanent lines. It is not safe! In Buckingham [Court House] there are permanent lines, temporary lines and no lines all with in a half-mile.”

“Those contracts to have specific timeframes for when the roads have to be remarked,” Meadows said. Typically, he said contractors have to either paint temporary markings or permanent markings “anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after completion of that section of roadway after that completion of paving.”

Meadows said that number of hours was “dependent on the classification of the roadway and the traffic count.”

“Regardless of whether they put temporary or permanent down within the 24 to 72 hours, they have to have the routes permanently marked within 30 days of the completion of paving,” he said.

“Next season, we’re looking at an even higher tonnage of paving that will be done around the district. …,” he said of the upcoming projects.

“We don’t mark every route. Some of our rural secondary routes have a very low traffic volume, and some of those roads are also very narrow, so they don’t lend themselves to being marked.”

Markings on some roads, such as narrow roads, can work against safety, Meadows said. It could create “erratic driving behavior,” he said.

“We do have some secondary routes that have a higher traffic volume or [are] wider or … we may have an accident history. There’s a lot of factors that go into the decision whether or not we mark a route.”

Lines are not always placed on rural routes, according to VDOT spokeswoman Paula Jones. “There are several criteria, including traffic volume, roadway width, accident data, etc., that determine whether any markings are used or not.”

Most rural roads do not have the minimum lane width needed to apply markings, she said. “Overly narrow lanes can cause erratic and inconsistent driving behaviors which can lead to more crashes. That said, safety is a very important factor. During our Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) reviews and when concerns about unmarked rural roads are brought to our attention, traffic engineering does conduct reviews.”

Jones said the cost for permanent line markings is dependent on a number of factors, including the number of roads to be marked in a contract, the type of markings applied and variables in paint costs. “On average, the cost to apply permanent markings to one mile of new asphalt pavement is about $10,000. For latex overlays, the average cost to apply permanent markings to a one-mile section is about $19,500 (higher because existing lines must be eradicated).”