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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Temporary Work-Zone Pavement Marking Products

Status: Complete

Description: Work zones by nature present transitions and changes to motoristsÂ’ expectations. Given these conditions, providing proper guidance to motorists is critical. With respect to pavement markings, the challenge is to provide sufficient markings but in a temporary setting. Various pavement-marking products are currently in use within work zones; however, their effectiveness and cost can vary widely. This research evaluated the effectiveness of several common removable pavement marking products in terms of daytime presence, retroreflectivity, and removability. The evaluation was completed on an active work zone in central Iowa and included both white and yellow edge-line markings within the taper and crossover sections of a work zone. Presence was evaluated in terms of the amount of product remaining at the end of the evaluation period. Retroreflectivity was measured using a 30 meter geometry retroreflectometer. Product removal was evaluated in terms of internal tape strength, adhesive bond, and the amount of discernible markings after removal based on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP). Findings showed that the temporary pavement marking tapes performed satisfactorily over the 56 day time period with the exception of materials placed over very rough surfaces (rumble strip) or where vehicle maneuvering directly over the marking led to tearing or similar damage. Based on these findings, the research team recommends that agencies who are not currently specifying the use of temporary pavement marking tape products on temporary roadway surfaces (eg. within the cross-over area of a work zone which will be removed after the project) should reconsider their policy. The cross-over area receives the majority of wear, due to traffic weaving, and these markings are placed over a variety of, smooth to very rough, pavement surface conditions. Removable paint products are rapidly evolving and are a potentially promising alternative in terms of installation, cost, and removal (no scaring) which should be further investigated.

Report: work-zone_markings_w_cvr.pdf 2.31 mb (published 2012)

State conducting research: Iowa


  • Hawkins, Neal (Iowa State University)
  • Aldemir-Bektas, Basak (Iowa State University)
  • Smadi, Omar (Iowa State University)
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