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Title: Those Remarkable Lines

Baltimore County Line Paintingby Chris Cadorette,
Traffic Signal and Marking Crew Chief, Bureau of Traffic Engineering

Depended on, but often overlooked, the yellow and white lines on the road are a necessary part of safe driving. The only thing that’s more overlooked than the lines, are the crew responsible for painting them. Every year Baltimore County’s paint truck and its crew try to keep up with 2700 miles of painted lines. At eleven miles per hour, it’s a daunting task.

When the weather cooperates, the truck and crew depart the shop loaded with 500 gallons of paint and 3000 pounds of glass beads (for reflectivity). Depending on the road, several passes painting – up and back – are necessary for completion. Since the truck can only paint approximately 7 ½ miles of center-line per load, there is always a delicate balance of maintaining older roads and getting freshly paved roads completed in reasonable time. We try to paint about three-quarters of the lines each year (about one-quarter are painted about every other year).

The paint truck never leaves the shop without 2 follow-up trucks. These trucks are fitted with plenty of strobe lighting, and large message boards, to deter citizens from driving in wet paint. Occasionally paint shows up on tires and in wheel wells, despite the county’s best efforts to protect vehicles with follow up trucks, signage, and fast-drying paint which is designed to dry in 90 seconds.

As of the end of August this year, the crew has already painted 1200 miles of lines and they are hoping to complete about 2000 miles before the season is over. It’s a big job!

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