Monday, August 17, 2015

New zigzag pavement markings

By Mike Allende

WSDOT maintenance crews worked over the
weekend of Aug. 15-16 to install new zigzag
pavement markings in Stanwood.
Folks on State Route 9 in Arlington may think a new type of pavement marking approaching the pedestrian/bike crossing near Stanwood-Bryant Road is a prank or perhaps a lane striping crew got a little too creative.

But no, the new zigzags in the road? We meant to do that.

That’s right; over the weekend our maintenance crews painted new zigzag pavement markings to warn people as they approach the Centennial Trail pedestrian/bike crossing. Later this month crews will add the same zigzag pavement markings to the areas approaching crosswalks on SR 20 near Superior Avenue and E Street. The markings run for about 200 to 250 feet down the middle of the roadway in each direction.

The zigzag markings are a test – the first of their kind in Washington state – to see if they might help improve driver’s compliance with slowing down approaching a crosswalk. While we haven’t had any specific safety problems in these areas, this is a low-cost way for us to try something that we believe will increase the level of compliance at crosswalks.

A few states, including Virginia and Hawaii, have implemented similar pavement markings near crosswalks and have seen positive results. These markings are also used extensively in Europe – they are even at the iconic Abbey Road crossing in London.

When you get in some of these rural locations, drivers can start to tune out and all of a sudden you come upon these particular crossings. A recent study of the SR 9 crossing showed that 18 percent of vehicles did not slow down or stop for a pedestrian at the crosswalk, which currently also has a flashing beacon that can be activated by pedestrians and cyclists. The new zigzag crosswalks will help give a visual indication that you’re approaching a crosswalk and you should slow down and be aware.

New zigzag pavement markings are being tested on State Route 9 in Arlington
as a way to catch the attention of motorists approaching the
Centennial Trail pedestrian/bike crossing.

The cost of installing the new pavement markings in the three locations is expected to be $5,000-$6,000. The paint is the same as is currently used in crosswalks and railroad crossings so vehicles – including motorcycles – should have no issues traveling over them. If the test program at these sites is successful, we may evaluate other areas that could benefit from the unique pavement markings as a low-cost alternative to electronic crosswalk indicators.