City needs more money to paint road markings
The city says it needs more money in its annual $2.95-million road painting budget to keep the standard markings from vanishing.
More people have been complaining about the quality of road markings in Ottawa since the federal government forced changes to the composition of the paint, a city analysis shows.
Coun. Diane Deans asked staff to explain in writing how federal regulations on road paint have impacted the city’s operations. The response was released publicly this week.
The city used solvent oil-based paint prior to 2012. Federal legislation in September 2012 required road-marking paint to be formulated with “low volatile organic compounds” and applied between May 1 and Oct. 15.
Since 2013, the city has used an acetone-based road marking paint.
Curious about the number of complaints since then, staff pulled complaint data for the periods before and after the regulatory changes.
The city didn’t take into account the weather and year-to-year road operations, but the data suggest people are more salty about the road markings in recent years than they were before the changes in paint requirements.
Between 2008-11, the number of annual complaints ranged from 92 (in 2008) to 153 (in 2011).
Between 2013-16, the number of annual complaints ranged from 273 (in 2016) to 372 (in 2014).
A massive jump in complaints happened in 2017 when the city received 507 contacts about road markings. The city believes it might have something to do with the number of painting days lost in May and June because of rain.
The city also looked at crash data for the periods before and after 2012, keying in on any notation by officers about “faded” pavement markings.
There was no significant change in the rate of collisions where faded markings were mentioned on the reports, the city says. There was no fatal collision that noted faded markings in those periods.
A more durable paint is the likely answer to the faded lines, the city says, but it wouldn’t come cheap, especially since the road inventory grows with an expanding city.
Applying a more hardy paint everywhere would cost an extra $5.3 million annually. Only doing the arterial roads would cost $2.6 million.
Even using more of the existing paint would come with a steep cost. Doubling applications everywhere would be another $3.2 million and only doing arterial roads would cost $2 million.
The city has managed to free up money to at least repeat “longitudinal markings,” such as centre lines and lane lines, but staff believe a second paint truck is needed to deliver the annual paint program. The city says it could re-stripe all arterial roads with a second truck.
It will come down to whether the next council allows a budget increase in the pavement marking program.
The city says it will also test 3D road markings like other municipalities are doing.
The optical illusions, sometimes appearing as floating crosswalks, attempt to slow down traffic. The city ’s test street will be Othello Avenue behind the Elmvale Shopping Centre.
The yellow line down the centre of Sherbourne Road was repainted recently. Ottawa is looking at switching to a more durable paint for road markings but doing so would come at a much higher cost.