We have a new line paint that is committed to stand up to BC winters…and we’re not done yet!
This spring, we’ll start using this environmentally friendly water-based paint that allows for thicker (and thus longer-lasting) application, on sections of key highways around BC. In addition to delivering durability, the formulation will be combined with newly designed-for-BC glass beads, which improve light reflection to boost the paint’s visibility.
The new paint will be specifically applied to sections of on some of our busiest roads including Highway 1, 3, 5, 16 and 97. On less-travelled routes that don’t get the wear and tear of winter maintenance, we’ll continue with the paint that we have been using, which performs well on many of our roads. The new glass beads will also be used with that paint, in key areas where reflectivity on wet nights is an issue.
The performance of both paints and paint/bead combinations will be monitored in a variety of areas to ensure the best formulation for different locales. At the same time, we’ll keep watching for other paints being developed that can take a pounding and stay bright.
How We Got Here
Our search for a peak performing paint has been ongoing since summer 2015, when we began testing line paints for improved wear and visibility. There were 18 types of paint, tried in three areas of the province with vastly different weather and traffic conditions – Highway 97 near Prince George, Highway 5 north of Halston Road near Kamloops, and Highway 7 near Maple Ridge. Various application methods were also put on trial. Then we piloted the selected paint on Highway 1, 3, 5 and 5 north, over the winter.
What We Need
Road markings must endure BC’s extreme weather on mountain passes, stay solid under scraping snowplow blades and studded tires, and withstand scouring as vehicle tires roll over winter traction grit. Chains, sometimes required on commercial vehicles, are also brutal on line paint – acting like small milling machines.
Our paints are a low volatile organic compound alkyd and a water-based formula. They meet federal regulations that in 2010, discontinued the use of oil-based paint.
The selected paint also had to be at a price that makes sense. The ministry occasionally applies other products like inlaid durable thermoplastics, which are installed on the road surface or slightly recessed into the pavement. However, these materials can be up to eight times the cost of paint. Another product used on extreme weather routes (like parts of Highway 16) is a methyl methacrylate resin, which is a two-part, epoxy-like plastic that disperses water quickly and has extra glass beads, but is also extremely expensive.
As part of our efforts to find the best paint solution, we shared research information and testing results with our neighbouring highways organizations in Alberta, Alaska, Washington and Idaho. These jurisdictions most closely match our geography and climate which are far harsher than most – if not all – other North American jurisdictions.
When you paint more than 30,000 kilometres of markings annually, you want those lines to last!
Did you know that we maintain more than 50,000 kilometres of roads and about 4,000 bridges/structures provincially? Check out more of what we do.