That’s why the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s public works department is embarking on a pilot project to see if there is an option available that will prove to be more durable on local roads.
Ray Boudreau, manager of public works central division, appeared at the CBRM council’s general committee meeting Tuesday and said staff is well aware of the reduced amount of durability in pavement markings.
He said that in 2012 Environment Canada passed environmental regulations that limit the amount of volatile organic compounds permitted in traffic paint, as a result they have had to change the product used, to a water-based paint.
Those sorts of paints are more susceptible to grease or oils found on road surfaces. They must also generally be applied in warmer weather conditions, so that has also shortened the window when road painting can occur.
“Extensive plowing and salting in the winter takes its toll on the pavement markings,” Boudreau said.
Currently, the CBRM repaints all of its lines in the spring, with touchups in some areas like major collector routes in the fall. The painting is done both in-house and by contractors.
Boudreau said CBRM staff has spoken to other municipalities about their practices, spoken to contractors and others dealing with similar issues and looked at options for more durable pavement markings.
The three main other options available — plastic pavement markings, preformed marking tape and epoxy paints — claim to have lives ranging from two to five years, depending on the method, and they also cost from seven to 10 times as much as traditional road paint.
They also have their own pluses and minuses. Epoxy paints can be applied at colder temperatures and dirtier conditions but tend to be more susceptible to plow damage if not inlaid to the asphalt, Boudreau said.
For this year, public works plans to do a second application of road paint in the fall.
“The proof will be in the pudding, we’ll be able to look at it this time next year and see if they hold up,” Boudreau said.
Public works will also carry out a test program that will see the alternative methods applied in the same area under the same circumstances and exposed to the same traffic and weather conditions and then evaluate their performance.
“It will allow us to have a good clean snapshot to be able to compare the technologies,” Boudreau said.
They also plan to test some of the methods that can be inlaid in new asphalt in new road construction this year.
The project was already approved in the 2017-18 capital budget.