Lawrence city officials are looking to accelerate a program that brightens lane markings on major streets in town, even as a national shortage of marking materials threatens to curtail such work later this year.
Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works, is asking for additional money for 2011: up to $100,000 to put down markings along major intersections of Kasold and Wakarusa drives, plus another $68,000 to repaint lanes, crosswalks and stop bars all over the city.
“We definitely need to do more striping,” Soules said. “I wish we could do more.”
Soules concedes that his proposal comes with several potential roadblocks:
• Money. The city currently budgets $15,000 to paint lane markings in Lawrence, and Soules said he understands that boosting that total by $68,000, which would be a 450 percent increase, could be a tough sell in tight economic times. “We have a lot of good ideas, a lot of programs,” he said. “It comes down to setting priorities.”
The intersection of 31st and Louisiana streets usually gets its stop bars and lane markings spruced up with a fresh coat of paint each year.
Not this time.
The intersection — which officially is the crossing of North 1300 and East 1400 roads in the unincorporated area of the county — will get some heavy-duty treatment this time around, said Keith Browning, county engineer and director of public works.
As crews repave a half-mile stretch of 31st Street in early August, crews will apply plastic lane markings that will be expected to shine bright and last longer, Browning said.
• Durability. Road paint typically lasts for only a year before needing another coat — even less if applied in high-traffic areas, such as for crosswalks or stop bars. That’s why the city now typically applies “hot plastic” markings when a road is resurfaced; the plastic markings are considered more durable.
• Availability. A nationwide shortage of materials used to add reflectivity in road paint is complicating matters for many buyers. The supply squeeze could postpone projects into 2011, adding to the potential for higher prices and increased demand for contractor services.
Keith Browning, Douglas County engineer and director of public works, said he considers himself fortunate that he secured a painting contract in 2007 that remains renewable for 2010 and 2011.
The county’s contractor, Midwest Striping in Grand Island, Neb., placed its orders for road paint early in the season, Browning said, and therefore does not anticipate any supply problems later this year.
That means drivers can expect to see trucks moving slowly and methodically along the county’s major paved roads — all 163 miles of them — in the unincorporated areas outside of Lawrence, likely in September, Browning said.
“We’ll be doing all of our roads,” Browning said. “We typically do them every year.”