The History of Pavement Marking

The History of Pavement Marking, Alpha Paving In the early days of the automobile, pavement markings were not a major consideration, especially since paved roads were relatively uncommon outside of major cities. In 1904, there were only 55,000 automobiles in the United States. However, that number skyrocketed to 470,000 in 1910 and approximately 10 million by 1922. With the increased traffic came an increase in accidents, particularly head-on collisions. State and federal agencies, however, were slow to embrace pavement markings until a few individuals stepped forward.

The History of Pavement Marking – The Beginnings

The earliest record of a painted center line dates to 1911. Edward Hines was the chairman of the Wayne County Board of Roads in Michigan, and he was allegedly inspired by a milk wagon that leaked a white trail while traveling down a street. By 1917, California, Michigan and Oregon had embraced the use of painted lines down the center of roadways, but funds were not always available. For example, when a Multnomah County, Oregon, deputy recommended a yellow line to improve safety on the Columbia River Highway, his boss paid for the paint when the county refused to do so. In California, Dr. June McCarroll advocated for pavement markings after having been forced off the road by a truck; when her efforts were unsuccessful, she purchased paint and hand-painted a center line herself.

Over the years, every state adopted pavement markings, but there was no standardization. Some states used yellow paint to mark the center of roads, but some used white paint. A solid line could mean that passing was prohibited, but it could also be used simply to define the different lanes. During the 1970s, however, the system of pavement markings became standardized, using yellow paint to mark boundaries between lanes of opposite travel and white paint for markings in lanes with the same direction of travel. Red, blue and other paint colors are used to designate special areas, including no-parking zones and handicapped-accessible parking spaces.

Paint Types Used

Paint has been the most common material used for pavement markings since the 1950s. It is economical and easily applied, and it can be removed if necessary. The two types of paint most often used for pavement markings are thermoplastic paint and water-based paint.

Thermoplastic paint offers excellent reflectivity and high durability. Depending on traffic, thermoplastic pavement markings can last as long as a decade, but in high-volume traffic areas, the normal life is 24 to 36 months.

Water-based paints are more suitable for pavement that does not receive much traffic. When used as pavement markings, water-based paints seldom last for more than 24 months, and in the right condition 36 to 48 months, and their life is often less than half of that time.

Let Alpha Paving Help with Your Pavement Markings

Alpha Paving is a full-service contractor with more than 35 years of experience in the asphalt industry. We provide parking lot striping and pavement markings for highways, parking lots, city streets and more. We also offer sealcoating, asphalt paving, traffic signage for parking lots, sandblasting and many more services to customers throughout Austin, Texas. Our dedicated crews have the skills and experience to consistently provide quality work at competitive rates. Call us at (512) 677-9001 to request a free estimate or submit our convenient online form.

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