Lane restriping never-ending cycle for city crews

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Driving the wet, slick streets of Austin under the nighttime glistening glare can be tricky, especially if some lanes are hard to spot. Austin restripes its roads constantly, but there is only so much they can do, the transportation department’s top man said.

Austin will spend $2.5 million this year restriping roads across the city. They get to one-third of all city roads every year, so all lanes are eventually restriped every three years. But if you still have trouble spotting the lanes, as KXAN did in a recent road test, the transportation people say don’t blame the stripe, blame the road.

“It is a problem that cities have in the southwest, especially where we don’t get regular rain,” said Director of Transportation Rob Spillar. “The dust and grease doesn’t get washed off and the pavement and stripes start to blend into the same color.”

Incidentally, it is not reflective paint that is put down to make stripes. It is a thermo-plastic melted onto the road surface. The reflective qualities come from little glass beads mixed into the product.

Downtown roads are the focus now. “We know we need to refresh those, it’s normal maintenance,” said Spillar, adding all downtown streets will be restriped in time for the 2015 legislative session. “It brightens them up and cleans them up. We’ve even recently tried on cross-walks to steam them clean in between.”

The city is responsible for thousands of miles of streets that run through 1,000 lighted intersections spanning 690 square miles. With all stripes redone after three years, they can handle three such coating treatments before they become a bump and have to be grinded down smooth. Then a new stripe is put down in their place.

If you have trouble spotting your lanes, the city says call 311 to report it. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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