State tabs alternative material for road striping as paint dries up (UPDATE)
Published: June 16, 2010
Tags: Federal Highway Administration, FHA, highway, Jim Johnson, Notbohm, paint, resin, Sherwin Williams, shortage, striping, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, WisDOT
Road paint shipments to Wisconsin are at a slow drip, leaving the state with few options but to approve a new type of material for limited use.
The shortage of paint is affecting areas such as Trempealeau County, which cannot restripe state or county highways this week because there is no paint, said Highway Commissioner Jim Johnson. He said he ordered enough paint to finish this year’s planned striping projects but does not know if those shipments will arrive.
The Federal Highway Administration last week sent state departments of transportation a letter reporting that 14 states, including Wisconsin, are affected by a nationwide shortage of road paint. The shortage is caused by a decrease in the production of resins and other ingredients used to produce the paint.
“For our routine striping work, it has slowed down in getting that work completed,” said Tom Notbohm, Wisconsin Department of Transportation state traffic engineer of design. “We have contracts with counties to do that work for us and, yes, there have been some slowdowns in that work.”
WisDOT, in an attempt to make sure there is enough paint to last the season, this month approved a new type of paint, which is manufactured by The Sherwin Williams Co. Contractors can use the new paint for temporary road lines drawn during construction projects but not for permanent stripes on finished roads, Notbohm said.
The new paint uses a different resin from material the state previously approved, Notbohm said, so it is not affected by the nationwide materials shortage. The new paint should let contractors keep road projects on schedule, he said, and will lower the demand for the paint counties need for finished roads.
WisDOT earlier this year contracted with Sherwin Williams to supply paint for restriping finished road.
Notbohm said he is comparing paint requests from county highway crews with the amount of paint Sherwin Williams has available to see if there is enough for the restriping work scheduled for 2010.
If the shipments later this year fall short of the planned work, some projects will be delayed until next season. Notbohm said county highway departments are focusing on the highways with the most faded lines.
“Our paint supplier has also indicated that they’re looking at another means to manufacture resins to alleviate the supply issue,” he said. “But we have not been told how much of the supply that would be able to meet.”
The state restripes about 11,363 miles of road lines on highways each year, he said. The state needs 200,000 gallons of paint for that work, and, Notbohm said, counties have enough to handle at least a quarter of that workload.
Johnson said as long as more paint arrives, there is still enough time for Trempealeau County crews to finish the restriping. The county needs another six or seven shipments of paint to close out the year, he said.
But with his stock running dry this week, Johnson said, his crews are working on other maintenance projects while they wait for the next delivery.
“Right now,” he said, “our crews would be out every day if we had the materials.”