Making a mark: Pavement markers guiding drivers home

Winter is here and with it brings snow. During those snowy conditions, snowplowable reflective pavement markers are here to help guide drivers home.

These markers are key to increasing road visibility and safety during wet, night conditions. Their reflectivity allows drivers to see road outlines and lane markings more clearly while withstanding the impact of weather and snowplows.

A snowplowable reflective pavement marker rests along I-70 after installation.

Here to tackle these challenges are Illinois Center for Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation’s researchers in their joint project, “R27-151: Investigating the Optimum Performance of Snowplowable Reflective Pavement Markers.”

Carmine Dwyer, senior engineer at Applied Research Associates Inc., along with Technical Review Panel co-chairs Kelly Morse and Kyle Armstrong, IDOT’s chief chemist and engineer of traffic operations, respectively, helped lead the project.

“The intention (of the project) is to improve installation, maintenance and use of SRPMs to ensure the safest and most efficient use of the devices,” Morse said.

To identify the best practices for Illinois, the research team tested SRPMs in northern, central and southern Illinois, checking for functionality and service life after three winters. They also studied the safety benefits of SRPMs, analyzing crash data provided by the Illinois Tollway, which was able to provide crash data from roadway sections before and after the installation of SRPMs.

“IDOT Bureau of Operations plans to use the research results to update and modify our SRPM usage and maintenance policies,” Armstrong said.

To further improve SRPM performance, the team developed an installation inspection guide to help SRPMs reach their target service life.

From these efforts, IDOT will be able to reduce maintenance costs and improve safety by increasing the performance of SRPMs and calling attention to places where SRPMs may less effective, such as six-lane suburban freeways.

As for the impact on the public?

“(This) will provide the public with roadways with markers that have longer service lives as well as fewer and shorter roadway sections with markers needing maintenance,” Dwyer added.

Written by: McCall Macomber

Posted: Jan. 29, 2020