UDOT has a plan to make interstate lane striping around Salt Lake City less awful
Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation, said one of the most common complaints his department receives is about the visibility of the lines on Utah’s roads. And after a rainstorm, those comments come flooding in.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he’s experienced the problem first-hand while driving down I-15 when it’s dark and rainy.
“All of a sudden the lines just disappear. And people aren’t sure, you know, where their lane of traffic goes and it gets a little scary,” Cox said. “You white knuckle it, you hope the drivers around are safe.”
That’s why UDOT is working to replace old lane markings with new markings that Braceras said will be more visible in all types of weather, more reflective and longer-lasting.
According to UDOT, this is the biggest lane striping project in the state’s history. Work started earlier this year on parts of I-15 in Utah County between Lehi and Payson. At a news conference Monday, Braceras and Cox said this September they will start adding the new striping to parts of Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele and Summit counties. This will include sections of I-15, I-215, I-80 and SR-201.
This project will cost about $26 million, according to UDOT. But Braceras is excited that in addition to this one-time funding for the project, UDOT will also start getting more regular funding for lane striping. The budget passed by the Legislature earlier this year allocates $6 million annually for it. Cox said in previous years, there hasn’t been funding specifically for lane striping.
Braceras said that ongoing funding will be a big deal. He said they make different decisions when they get one-time money to complete a project versus when they know they will receive funding every year.
The new markings will be 6 inches wide – 50% wider than the current markings. The agency will use a technique called “contrast striping” for the dashed lines between lanes. This means when crews put down a white line, they will also put down a black line to help make the white line stand out more against the road surface. Braceras called this pattern a “tiger tail.”
The stripes between lanes won’t be painted on but instead will be tape markings. Crews will also create a groove to put the stripes in so that snow plows don’t rip them up as they drive by.
Braceras said they have a four-year warranty on the tape lane markings, but they’re hoping to get seven high-quality years out of them.
“What I expect is for you to be able to see the lanes out there when you’re driving, day and night, regardless of the weather,” Braceras said.
UDOT has been testing different pavement markings along I-84 in Tremonton for the last two years. Braceras said the new lane stripes are one of the products they tested and it performed well over time.
Braceras said the agency has received positive feedback about the new striping already in place in Utah County.
“Usually something as simple as a maintenance activity, you don’t get a lot of accolades. But this has been very positive,” Braceras said.