Paint test proves a trial

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

While mo­torists con­tinue to play their part on a daily ba­sis, mys­tery sur­rounds the long­stand­ing ‘‘Paint Trial’’ on Fer­gus­son Dr at Sil­ver­stream.

The 150-me­tre stretch of hor­i­zon­tal lines across a south­bound lane has been in place for eight years and, in much re­duced form, is con­tin­u­ing to help iden­tify the best paints to use on New Zealand’s high­ways.

When the NZ Trans­port Agency first ap­proached the Up­per Hutt City Coun­cil to use their favoured lo­ca­tion the trial was meant to be for three years.

The longevity is, in part, a re­sult of the trial hit­ting a bu­reau­cratic speed bump mid­way through the orig­i­nal 2010-2013 work when the road was dug up and resur­faced by the coun­cil.

‘‘That was in­ter­est­ing and I can imag­ine there were a few tough con­ver­sa­tions around that at the time,’’ NZTA lead ad­vis­er­pave­ment John Don­ba­vand said on site at Sil­ver­stream.

That trial was con­signed to his­tory and started afresh in March 2013, the same time a sim­i­lar pro­ject on State High­way 1, half a kilo­me­tre south of Te Horo got un­der way.

They are the only paint tri­als in place in the coun­try, Don­ba­vand said.

Many of the paints tested at Sil­ver­stream were also un­der scru­tiny at Te Horo and its al­ter­na­tive chip seal sur­face.

Sixty-eight prod­ucts from five paint man­u­fac­tur­ers were used at Sil­ver­stream.

Four lines were laid for each, two di­rectly onto the ‘‘as­phaltic con­crete’’ and two laid down over mark­ings put in sev­eral months ear­lier in prepa­ra­tion.

With Opus Re­search car­ry­ing out the tech­ni­cal work the lines were in­spected af­ter they had been crossed by 500,000 ve­hi­cles, then 1 mil­lion and then, in Oc­to­ber 2014 at 1.5m when the bulk of the anal­y­sis was com­pleted.

Each line’s skid re­sis­tance, vis­i­bil­ity (in the day and with head­lights), wear and colour fad­ing was in­spected to re­veal just how safe, vis­i­ble and durable each prod­ucts was.

‘‘Some were tri­alled longer, to the five mil­lion count which we hit in Septem­ber last year

‘‘The ma­te­ri­als we use to mark the road are just as im­por­tant as the mark­ings them­selves,’’ NZTA re­gional trans­port sys­tems man­ager Mark Owen said when the Sil­ver­stream and Te Horo projects were launched.

‘‘They have to be bright enough to see in the day­time, re­flect enough light at night to be eas­ily seen and stay vis­i­ble in wet con­di­tions when we most need them. On top of all that, they also have to be pretty tough.’’

The Sil­ver­stream lo­ca­tion of­fered sev­eral ad­van­tages, Don­ba­vand said.

‘‘It is a straight stretch which is im­por­tant and we needed an area where the speed was more than 70kmh.

Don­ba­vand said the paint trail was ‘‘quite ex­pen­sive’’ to set up and main­tain but be­cause the costs were met by the paint man­u­fac­tur­ers it was cost neu­tral for the NZTA.

PHO­TOS: COLIN WIL­LIAMS/STUFF

John Don­ba­vand of the NZ Trans­port Agency at the eight-year old paint trial at Sil­ver­stream.

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