SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — After years of driver complaints, high visibility lane markings are coming to the Wasatch Front. The lane striping upgrades are wider, more durable, and designed for high visibility and reflectivity, no matter the weather.
The upgrades will start rolling out throughout Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele and Summit counties in September. Upgraded sections will include sections of I-15, I-215, I-80 and SR-201.
UDOT spokesperson John Gleason said it’s the issue they hear about more than anything else, especially during poor weather such as rain storms or when it’s dark at night. Utah residents have called for the state to use reflective paint on the roads to provide more visibility, which Gleason said it’s a misconception that the state doesn’t already.
“All of the lane markings in Utah that we place are reflective in nature,” said Gleason. “When you have snowplows going over them, you have some of the materials that we use to clear the roads for snow, it can cut down how just how effective those reflective methods are over the years.”
UDOT tries to repaint and restripe Utah’s major highways at least once a year to help with lane visibility, but the elements and cleanup continue to wreak havoc. That will begin to change as UDOT enters the next phase of a $26 million project to enhance lane visibility across Utah.
It’s called tiger tail striping, or contrast striping. Lane striping includes a longer, thicker white line, immediately followed by a black line. The black line makes the white line pop off Utah’s highways, making them more visible. UDOT has been experimenting with tiger tail striping in Utah County since early spring and Gleason says they’ve already noticed a difference.
“We have had a lot of people that have driven past it that have called or emailed in and told us what a difference it makes,” said Gleason.
Gleason said UDOT is committed to making sure Utah’s lane markings are as visible as they can be, which are essential to creating a safe environment. Along with the $26 million contrast striping project, the Utah legislature also approved an additional $6 million for UDOT to maintain lane striping.
Aside from contrast striping, UDOT has experimented with several alternatives. One potential alternative was glow-in-the-dark paint. UDOT said researchers focused on improving the paint in wet conditions. Lab results in those experiments showed a “significant” improvement in water durability, but more research increasing brightness and retention of brightness throughout the night was recommended before deploying onto Utah roads.
UDOT also has sections of both asphalt and concrete on I-84 in Tremonton dedicated to testing different striping methods. The “test section” is routinely evaluated throughout the year, day and night through various weather conditions, for performance.