Grooved Pavement Markings Improve Cold-Weather Performance

Terra Newsletter, March 2015

grooved pavement markings
White grooved epoxy with 3M AW Elements
after three winter seasons.

As residents of the Upper Midwest know, cold climates generate a number of issues for roads. One significant problem is the severe wear and tear on pavement markings. Frequent snowplow passes in areas with harsh winters can cause considerable harm to pavement markings: damage and removal of reflective materials, scratches, and lost adhesion reduce the lifespan of markings and, as a result, necessitate frequent replacement.

Researchers with the North Dakota Department of Transportation evaluated application techniques of various materials to reduce maintenance and maintain high-quality pavement markings in cold climates. Over a three year period, the researchers compared the performance of surface-applied pavement markings and grooved pavement markings using water-based paints and epoxy paired with standard glass beads and 3M All Weather (AW) Elements on Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement.

Using surface-applied epoxy—one of the current standards for application of liquid markings—as a control, researchers discovered that white and yellow grooved pavement markings—regardless of bead type—had higher dry retroreflectivity than the control after three winters. Additionally, the  depth and surface texture of the groove was determined to be a factor in  the survivability and retroreflectivity of markings using both standard  glass beads and AW elements.


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