White grooved epoxy with 3M AW Elements after three winter seasons.
White grooved epoxy with 3M AW Elements after three winter seasons.

As residents of the Upper Midwest know, cold climates generate a number of issues for roads. One significant problem is the severe wear and tear on pavement markings. Frequent snowplow passes in areas with harsh winters can cause considerable harm to pavement markings: damage and removal of reflective materials, scratches, and lost adhesion reduce the lifespan of markings and, as a result, necessitate frequent replacement.

Researchers with the North Dakota Department of Transportation evaluated application techniques of various materials to reduce maintenance and maintain high-quality pavement markings in cold climates. Over a three year period, the researchers compared the performance of surface-applied pavement markings and grooved pavement markings using water-based paints and epoxy paired with standard glass beads and 3M All Weather (AW) Elements on portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement.

Using surface-applied epoxy—one of the current standards for application of liquid markings—as a control, researchers discovered that white and yellow grooved pavement markings—regardless of bead type—had higher dry retroreflectivity than the control after three winters. Additionally, the depth and surface texture of the groove was determined to be a factor in the survivability and retroreflectivity of markings using both standard glass beads and AW elements.

Download the research report (35.1 MB PDF)
Download the research abstract (31.7 KB PDF)
• This project also supplements previous NDDOT research:
Evaluation of Wet-Reflective Elements for Pavement Markings (3.8 MB PDF).