City needs more money to paint road mark­ings

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­ twit­

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.


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