News Release for May 8, 2012

For more Information:
Paul Merrill, Public Information Officer - 207-624-3355 or 207-215-9297


MaineDOT Urges Caution Around Pavement Stripers

Maine homeowners aren’t the only ones doing some re-painting now that warmer weather is here. The Maine Department of Transportation has begun the job of re-painting the centerlines, edge lines and other pavement markings statewide and wants drivers to use extra care around their pavement marking vehicles and crews.

“Drivers can expect to encounter paint striping equipment almost anywhere in the state now that warmer weather is here,” says Wayne Arsenault, Traffic Operations Manager for MaineDOT’s Traffic Engineering Section. “We’re focusing on the Interstate and US numbered routes and Maine state routed highways first because they have the heaviest traffic, but before the summer is over, we plan to get to all of the 16,000 lane miles of Maine roads where we’re responsible for pavement markings.”

Although MaineDOT uses fast-drying, water-borne paint, some drivers invariably end up getting fresh white or yellow paint on their vehicles. “The real key to avoid getting paint on your car or truck is using common sense around the striper trucks,” Arsenault notes. For those do end up driving through fresh paint, Arsenault has good news. “If you get any of our paint on your vehicle, you have three to four hours to wash it off. After that, you’re going to need a specialist to get it removed. But the best bet is to stay off the wet paint until it dries.”

MaineDOT uses fast-drying paint that is far better than the products it replaced. “In the old days, it used to take paint markings four to five minutes to dry. With today’s technology, the paint is heated before it’s put down, it goes on hot, and dries in about half that time, depending upon weather conditions,” he explains.

Drivers will know they’re coming up behind a pavement striping operation and should plan to slow down and use some extra caution and patience, Arsenault continues. “As they come up behind our stripers, drivers will see flashing yellow lights, big paint trucks carrying special advisory signs telling them which stripe we’re painting, and very clean, very fresh-looking paint on the roadway. On some roads, we use escort vehicles ahead of and behind the paint truck to warn other drivers. The rear escort also helps keep other vehicles off the fresh paint until it has a chance to dry,” he says.

“Drivers can encounter striping equipment or other pavement marking operations across the state on any given day,” Arsenault continues. “Because of the distances from MaineDOT’s paint warehouse in Augusta, we do saturation striping in Aroostook and Washington Counties. That’s when we send all of our pavement striping equipment and crews into a single county to get everything in that county done in the shortest, most economical manner. Right now our schedule calls for us to be in Washington County the third week in May and in Aroostook County the fourth week in June. Once those are done, we’ll assign crews across the rest of the state as needed.”

Throughout the average summer, MaineDOT goes through about 160-thousand gallons of yellow centerline paint and 90-thousand gallons of white paint, used to mark pavement edges, lane separations, and centerlines on certain types of highways.

Drivers seeing a striping vehicle coming toward them should move slightly to the right edge of their side of the road. “It’s like meeting a snowplow that has to have its blade over the center line to avoid leaving snow down the middle of the road. Our paint guns which shoot the paint onto the pavement have to be directly above the centerline to mark it properly. We try not to crowd the middle of the road any more than necessary, but we do have to get slightly over the centerline to put down a good center stripe.”

“The key messages we’re trying to convey,” he notes,” are that we’re just beginning the prime pavement striping season, that our equipment and crews will be out there for most of the summer and fall depending on how many days we lose to bad weather, and that drivers need to be extra careful and patient around our equipment. Everyone appreciates the value of good pavement markings when the weather turns bad. We need to remember the crews and equipment putting down the markings require that extra bit of safety from everyone else out there on the road with them.”