Comment: Making ghost markings disappear

16/07/2019

Highways England is investing almost £700,000 on research to improve road markings and tackle confusing ‘ghost’ markings. Corporate group leader Martin Bolt explains why.

Most drivers will be familiar with frustrating ‘ghost’ markings which can cause confusion on sunny days. These are removed or masked lines – white lines painted black – which still appear as faint markings in certain light, making lanes appear unclear. But removing road markings brings its own problems.

That is why Highways England has launched a £685,000 research project to make the problems posed by road markings disappear.

The international competition has seen products from around the world submitted and put to the test – with the road markings subjected to some two million ‘wheel overs’. The results of the research will set a new benchmark standard for the industry and highlight the most effective and safest products to use.

Why was the competition launched?

As well as ‘ghost’ markings causing confusion for motorists, removing markings can cause damage to the surface with the repairs adding to the overall cost of road schemes and creating additional work. We know ‘ghost’ markings on any roads, not just ours, can be confusing for drivers so we set out to find a solution that makes a real difference not just for road users on our network but across the globe.

With new products, improved technology and a greater focus on innovations and more collaborative ways of working we are asking our supply chain to raise the bar above the standards that we previously set.

What is involved?

The Transforming Road Markings competition was launched through Highways England’s Innovation Designated Fund, in conjunction with Roadcare and Kier, and received 36 entries from across the globe. The aim was to find the most effective road markings that will also reduce damage to the surface when the lines are removed. Entries were separated into five material categories: thermoplastics, cold plastics, tapes, water-based paints, as well as ‘others’ – products not specified in the other categories or the use of a combination of them.

Applicants were asked to send samples of their product for testing, which has been taking place at an industry-recognised centre in Madrid. The materials were tested for skid-resistance, contrast and wet and dry retro-reflectivity. They were subjected to two million ‘wheel-overs’ to test the durability of the markings. The winning entries are:

Thermoplastics

  • l–WJ Roadmarkings (England)
  • l–Geveko Roadmarkings (Sweden)
  • l–Swarco (Germany)

Cold plastics

  • l–SWARCO (Germany)
  • l–MEON (England)
  • l–SWARCO (Germany)

Tapes

  • l–3M (England)

Others

  • l– MEON (England)

No water paints product reached the minimum requirements.

What happens now?

The materials submitted by the winners have been laid along the M5 in the South West where they will be tested in all weathers over the next 12 months. As well as testing the materials, further testing will also be carried out on five removal systems.

What impact will this competition have on the industry?

We hope the outcome of the competition will be to set a new benchmark standard and give us a greater understanding of the materials and processes we, and the road industry, should be using in future schemes. Once complete, the most successful products will be highlighted in research shared around the world and setting new high standards for the road industry.

There was a high standard of entries and many of the products performed to a level above the existing specification. We were pleased to see some different and innovative approaches. This is a worldwide problem with road marking removal and it is the first time the industry has been challenged like this.

What our partners say

Kevin Dawson, managing director of Roadcare, said: ‘Competitors from across the globe have told us how refreshing and inspiring it has been that Highways England is leading the way in looking for solutions to what is an international issue. It is fully supportive in helping to find a sustainable solution to the road markings challenges.’

Scott Cooper, managing director of strategic highways at Kier, commented: ‘By working collaboratively with our client and supply chain partners such as WJ, Wilson and Scott, and Roadcare, we have been able to continue to develop and deliver new ideas, products and processes.

This will help deliver safer roads as scarring and ghosting will disappear. The customer experience through road works will improve as a result of clearer markings and finished schemes will have a cleaner appearance.’

How is Highways England investing in innovation?

Highways England is committed to investing in research and innovation to enable us to remain at the forefront of ensuring our strategic roads are more dependable, durable and safe.

Our Innovation Designated Fund provides £150m in the first Road Investment Strategy for capital projects to discover and implement emergency technologies, new materials and ways of working.

For more details of Highways England developments visit the Innovation Hub at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/innovation-hub/

Highways jobs

South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) Director

£96,192 - £108,213 per annum
This is a highly visible, senior role, working with local government chief officers as well as sub-regional and regional organisations.  London (Greater)
Recruiter: South London Waste Partnership

Grounds Maintenance Operative

£19,312 - £20,493 per annum
This position is Seasonal/Fixed Term from 22 March to 29 October 2021. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Head of Highways

£53,984 - £63,449
You will have a proven track record of success in delivering effective highway services and substantial capital programmes as... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Vehicle Technician x2

£24,982 - £29,577 per annum
These positions are fixed term contracts for 12 months with the prospect of a permanent role once the Class C Driving Licence has been obtained.  Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Commercial Vehicle Technician

£30,000 per annum
We are seeking a fully trained HGV technician to work as part of the team who maintain the Council's fleet to the highest standards.  Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Clerk of Works

£32,234 - £35,745
We are looking for someone who... Warrington, Cheshire
Recruiter: Warrington Borough Council

Executive Director of Place, Economy & Environment – West Northamptonshire Council

Up to £140k
Be part of shaping the future Northamptonshire
Recruiter: North Northamptonshire & West Northamptonshire

Director Public Protection and Licensing

circa £123k
At Westminster, we are passionate about the place and the people who live, work and visit here. City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Westminster City Council

Senior Data Centre Engineer

£41,952
The successful candidate will have a BSc in relevant discipline, or equivalent industry experience. Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Lead Network Engineer

£46,756
We are going through exciting new changes, which require the need for Lead Network engineers who can redesign, architect, document and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Community Protection Regulatory Officer

£26,112 per annum, rising to £28,785
The successful applicant will provide support to the team’s Environmental Health Officers while also benefitting from their experience and guidance. Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Grounds Maintenance Supervisor

£26,112 per annum, rising to £28,785
The successful candidate will show enthusiasm and a commitment to effectively deliver excellent service to... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Drainage Engineer & Senior Drainage Engineer

£32,234 - £35,745 (Engineer), £35,745 - £39,880 (Senior Engineer)
Lincolnshire County Council has exciting opportunities for a Drainage Engineer (x1) and Senior Drainage Engineer Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal S106 & CIL Officer (Infrastructure Planning)

£43,860 - £46,839 p.a. inc.
To be successful in this role, you will bring strong S106 & CIL collection experience, be able to... Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Head of Built Environment

£67,036 - £76,613 per annum
The post holder will deliver the effective strategic improvement, co-ordination and management of the planned... Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Highways Maintenance Engineer

£30,492 - £32,851
We are looking to recruit a suitably qualified and experienced Highway Maintenance Engineer to join our Key Projects Team at... Worcestershire
Recruiter: Worcestershire County Council

Street Cleaning Operatives / Drivers

£21,795 - £22,995 Per Annum
We are looking for hard working, motivated, reliable people to join our team. Barnet (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Senior Infrastructure Design Engineer

£35,745 - £38,890 per annum
Do you want to work in an innovative, positive team that shapes and develops the places we live and work in? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Sustainable Travel Delivery Specialist

£32,234 - £34,728 per annum
Are you passionate about Active Travel and Sustainable Transport? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Asset Inspector

£20,092 - £21,748 per annum
Do you enjoy an active life and have an interest in Heritage, Environment and Engineering assets? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also inside:

Big Interview: IHE President Stephen Webb

ADEPT Traffic Managers' Conference

Legal: JV or not JV?

View the latest issue

Latest Video