Q: Are my eyes fading, or is it the pavement striping? Lately when I’m driving, it seems like I can barely see the lane lines. It’s worse at night and in the rain.
It is particularly scary when merging from Interstate 5 southbound (from the Tacoma Dome) onto state Route 16. The lane lines aren’t reflective at all and fade away into nothing.
Is that place due to be striped soon, and if not, could you pass along the request?
Lisa K., Fircrest
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A: A solid question. Alas, we could not ascertain a concrete (ha!) answer.
Most state highways, city streets and county roads are on a rotation for striping. Some roadways get restriped every year. Others are on an every-other-year schedule. It might be longer on lightly traveled byways.
The stretch of Interstate 5 that has Lisa fretting is a special case, at least for the time being. It’s part of a state project to provide congestion relief between Portland Avenue and M Street.
The work will add carpool lanes both northbound and southbound and build other improvements on that stretch of interstate at a cost of $723 million.
The regular state restriping schedule does not apply during a construction project, said Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
“Construction zones are a completely different animal,” she said.
This one in particular is challenging, given the scope of the work, including tearing out the Pacific Avenue overpass for replacement, and the fact that more than 150,000 vehicles travel the stretch each day.
Contractors working on the project have needed to reroute lanes across the work zone frequently and will need to do so again as construction proceeds, Bingham Baker said. That makes striping challenging.
What’s more, it’s a bad time of year for any outdoor painting project.
“If it’s too cold or too wet, they can’t do it,” Bingham Baker said. “And when the weather’s good, they can only do it at night because they have to close lanes to accomplish the work.”
All to say, we’re not sure relief is imminent.
Bingham Baker did assure us she’d pass Lisa’s concerns along to the right people for consideration.
The project is expected to be completed by 2020.