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UDOT testing new reflective beads to improve lines on highways

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Aug. 12, 2011 at 9:46 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Transportation is testing three types of new beads in their paint to make the lines on highways even brighter.

Several states nail markers into their pavement to help commuters see lines on the highway; however, because of snowplows, Utah is not able to install permanent markers to the roadway.

That's why UDOT is testing new super-reflective beads, which would allow commuters to see the lines easier in all weather conditions.


Once the beads get covered with water, it loses its reflectivity. It disperses all over and so the lines look like they disappear. These beads which we are actually trying now have been developed to help shine through and be much brighter in wet, night conditions.

–Dan Betts


"It looks a lot different," said UDOT Pavement Markings Manager Dan Betts. "We want to evaluate which one we think works the best -- holds up the best."

Betts said UDOT is trying the new paint beads because the current stripes can be difficult to see at night when it is raining.

"Once the beads get covered with water, it loses its reflectivity," Betts said. "It disperses all over and so the lines look like they disappear. These beads which we are actually trying now have been developed to help shine through and be much brighter in wet, night conditions."

Although the beads are more reflective, the cost has UDOT officials stumped. The paint UDOT currently uses is about $0.38 per pound, and the new paint is about $5 per pound.

Instead, UDOT has put grooves into roads for the paint so plows won't scrape it off. In the end, UDOT said if it is for the safety of commuters, it is worth it.

"We're always trying to improve. We're always trying to look at what's new out there," said Adan Carrillo of UDOT.

"We'll come through when it's raining. We'll go from regular paint to this paint," Betts said. "We'll video it, she what the driver sees."

The three beads have been painted on Bangerter Highway between Redwood Road and I-15 in Riverton. UDOT said they'll test the beads over the next two years to make sure they pick the right one.

Email: acabrero@ksl.com

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