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So you can actually see I-15 lanes in bad weather, UDOT tries something new

Posted at 9:36 AM, Aug 14, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — It's a constant gripe for many of us.

In bad weather, the lane stripes on I-15 seem to magically disappear. Governor Spencer Cox complains about it, having experienced it personally during his drives from his home in Fairview to Salt Lake City.

"It gets a little scary. You white knuckle it, hope the other drivers around you are safe. That’s the complaint we hear the most," he said.

It's something Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras has heard complaints about.

"This is one of the most often heard improvement opportunities that we get from the public," he told FOX 13 News.

On Monday, the governor and UDOT announced new technology it will be rolling out on freeways across the Wasatch Front to make lanes more visible. Instead of paint, it's a special adhesive tape embedded in the road (so as not to be scraped up by snow plows) that is designed to last about seven years.

"It has reflective glass beading embedded into it," said Lillian Stirling, who operates the machine on overnight road projects for UDOT. "It helps when it’s raining or snowing and wet on the ground. We have another machine behind it, it’s the same setup except it’s black. So the black actually helps make the white brighter. The black contrasts with the white, you can see the white stripes better. We’re thinking it will make it easier to see."

Highway Striping
Striping will be 2-inches wider and expected to be more visible in bad weather

UDOT has been experimenting with it on southbound I-15 from Lehi to Payson with some success. Now, the agency is rolling it out across the urban areas. More rural stretches of I-15 will have paint.

"We have over 6,000 center-line miles of roadway and many multiple miles of stripes, so we’re going to use paint. We’re trying to find the right paint formulation that will last the longest," Braceras said.

You may be wondering — if this reflective tape is so great — why hasn't the state done it before now? It all comes down to budget. Gov. Cox personally pushed for it in last year's budget, pressing the legislature to fund road striping alone. Before now, it has always been wrapped up into a wider road budget.

"I've never had a governor come to me and say 'highway striping is important to me,'" Braceras told FOX 13 News. "When we put this proposal in his budget, he supported this and we were able to get it through the legislature."

The legislature funded $26 million for ongoing road projects that included the new striping. They also agreed to fund $6 million a year just for road striping, allowing it to happen.