When the rain comes, Colorado drivers have a hard time staying inside the lanes

CDOT working on ways to make roads reflective


Blame it on the rain, but when the roads get wet in the metro area, drivers have a hard time staying in their lanes. But they're not always at fault.

"That water takes away some of the reflectivity of the striping that's out on the roadway," said Charles Meyer, a traffic engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

It turns out that only about two percent of CDOT roads have the best tape that's able to be seen in bad weather.

"Some of the best stuff is what we call, 'wet, reflective tape,'" said Meyer.

That tape has a four-inch white strip, with two inches of black on each side, and a honeycomb like texture to wick water away.

When asked why this tape is not in every location in the metro area, Meyer responded it has to do with the cost of putting it there in the first place.

"We can't afford it. In the locations where we do use it, it can last up to five years, but it's very expensive; it's about 10 times the cost of some of our other materials."

CDOT spends more than $20 million a year on road striping. Other materials include epoxy, acrylic and water-based paints. All stripes have microbeads blasted into them to help the stripe reflect light.

"We have a program that analyzes what's the best material that we place in the best location," said Meyer. "We look at the amount of traffic. We look at the weather. We look at how much trucking is in the area. We look at temperatures."

Other problems exist at areas like the construction zone at Interstate 25 and 6th Avenue. With so much lane-shifting, drivers can still see "ghost lines" from previous lanes.

"We're moving lines in order to move traffic around and phase construction," said Meyer.

Construction crews are supposed to grind out the old lane lines to make sure they don't interfere with the current striping.

On I-70 near Floyd Hill, CDOT recently installed LED lights in between stripes. Meyer said they haven't been cost-effective or reliable over the last few years, until now.

"We're putting them in strategic locations because we can't put them everywhere. We just can't afford to put them everywhere," said Meyer. "Being responsible stewards of the taxpayer dollars, we wouldn't want to put them everywhere."

He said that even the best material, like the expensive reflective tape, is no match for standing water.


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