Road Paint Supplies Dry Up?

By Bradley Blackburn

May 24, 2010 3:52pm

ABC's Bradley Blackburn reports from New York: As if traffic weren't bad enough already, there's word that a paint shortage could bring some road projects to a screeching halt this summer. Supplies of the reflective road paint used to mark dividing lines are running low, thanks in part to a shortage of a single chemical used to make the paint.  Road paint must be specially formulated to give it durability and luminescence under harsh conditions. "It's a very significant problem," said Brian Deery of the Associated General Contractors of America, who warned that supplies could be 60 percent lower than normal through the summer and fall – prime road construction season.  The shortage hasn't hit yet, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials expressed optimism that supplies will be restored before any roadwork gets derailed. "Most states report that they're getting the same monthly allocations [of paint] that they got last year," said Tony Dorsey of the AASHTO.  "It's not like the tap's been cut off.  They're just not getting more than they got last year." In Texas, transportation officials haven't stopped any projects yet, but they are already taking steps to conserve the use of paint. "We see shortages on the horizon and anticipate slowdowns," said Chris Lippincott, director of media relations for TxDOT.  "What we don't want to do is start a project that we can't finish." TxDOT is prioritizing projects, using alternatives like ceramic buttons, and suspending some repainting work in the hopes of stretching the existing supply until manufacturers can catch up. But if the paint cans do go empty during the summer, it could leave state officials in the lurch as to how to keep projects rolling along. "It's going to force some very significant decisions by DOT's," said Deery.  "You can't open up a project if you can't put stripes on the ground," he said.

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