The paint shortages hitting county highway crews also are affecting contractors rebuilding state highways.
Paint shipments that used to arrive within a week of ordering now take about six weeks, said Bess Crowley, president of Crowley Construction Corp., a Wauwatosa-based painting contractor that works on state highway construction.
Crowley said the state’s decision to approve a new type of paint for temporary lines on road reconstruction projects will improve the situation. The shipping delays force her to order shipments further in advance, she said, but so far they have not delayed road construction work.
“It isn’t that there isn’t any paint,” she said. “It’s that there is less paint.”
Mike Aders, general manager at Madison-based Mega Rentals Inc., said he ordered 1,000 gallons of the new paint and is waiting for a response from supplier The Sherwin Williams Co. He said the new type of paint may help his company stockpile enough to last the rest of the year.
“It’s hard to gauge whether we have enough to make it through the season,” he said, “because we are still winning jobs.”
The bigger problem, Crowley said, is her company must eat the higher cost of paint on projects. The company, for example, cannot change its contract price for a project to paint 400,000 lineal feet of lines for the Interstate 94 reconstruction in Dane and Jefferson counties. When Crowley orders new paint for the project, it will cost more, she said.
A gallon of regular road paint costs roughly $7, but the newer paint approved for construction projects cost about $1 more, said Tom Notbohm, Wisconsin Department of Transportation state traffic engineer of design.
Crowley said she expects price increases of 15 percent this year, which would not eliminate her entire profit margin on contracts this year.
“I think I’d be a lot more upset,” she said, “if I thought that was going on.”
— Sean Ryan