Northland resident Emma J. Ludwig said she has perfect vision but often has trouble seeing lane markings at night, especially if it's raining.
She wonders if the yellow and white lane markings could be put down with a reflective paint that would be more visible.
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The quick answer is that many stripes do contain reflective material, but they fade over time.
For every gallon of paint put down, the Missouri Department of Transportation adds close to 10 pounds of tiny glass beads to make the stripes more visible at night, said MoDOT traffic operations engineer Derek Olson. The beads are applied after the stripe is put down.
“Major roads, such as interstates, are striped every year,” Olson said. “It is true that over time, and especially in the rain, the pavement markings become harder to see. MoDOT combines performance maintenance glass beads and wet reflective glass beads to help with the wet, nighttime visibility issues.”
On many roads, he said, the stripes are recessed into the pavement so traffic and snowplows don’t damage the beads as easily.
Last year, MoDOT said, the nine-county Kansas City district spent about $950,000 on striping and applied 49,000 gallons of white paint, 40,000 gallons of yellow paint and 825,000 pounds of glass beads.
Years ago, said MoDOT spokesman Steve Porter, the agency installed raised pavement markers that consisted of a prismatic reflector encased in an iron casting. But they were eventually removed because the iron castings broke loose from the pavement and damaged vehicles.
Overland Park also uses the glass beads with several different kinds of striping material. A thermoplastic material, now used on new projects, lasts about seven years, but paint must be restriped yearly, said Brian Shields, interim director of public works.
In some places, he added, the stripes have been widened a little for greater visibility.
The Watchdog says this discussion reinforces the adage that new is better than old. But there are exceptions: spouses and houses.
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