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

Assistant Traffic Technician x 2

Devon County Council
£19,554 - £21,589
Devon County Council are seeking two enthusiastic and skilled people to join its Traffic Orders, Policy and Programme Team Devon
Recruiter: Devon County Council

Regeneration Delivery Manager - Heritage Action Zone

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£42684 - £45585 per annum
(Fixed Term Opportunity until March 2024)Woolwich town is undergoing a period of intensive regeneration with huge investment in new housing, transport England, London, Woolwich
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Local Engineer

Birmingham City Council
£27,741 - £34,728
The Senior Local Engineer role is to provide technical service at senior level to Local Engineering teams Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Traffic & Transportation Engineer

Conwy County Borough Council
£41,881 - £44,863 per annum
You should have a degree or diploma in civil engineering or other relevant discipline, and extensive experience in... North Wales
Recruiter: Conwy County Borough Council

Principal Development Co-ordinator

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
Leading on the review of Major Development Proposals. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Highways Development Management (HDM) Manager

Gloucestershire County Council
£53,445.00 - £58,008.00 + MRS
To oversee all aspects of Highways Development Management from pre application discussions to road adoption. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Principal Development Engineer

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
You will be responsible for undertaking design audit of third party developer works under Section 38 and 278 of the Highways Act 1980. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Director of Environment

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Parks Development Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£26,999 - £29,636 per annum
You will work with community groups, organisations, ward members, residents and colleagues in order to... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Head of Infrastructure & Facilities

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
circa 100k
We are seeking a Head of Infrastructure & Facilities to lead the strategic management of the service in a unique and exciting opportunity for a... Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Senior Professional and Technical Officer – Project Manager

Bristol City Council
£32,910 - £34,728
We are seeking to appoint a Project Manager, to work in the Transport Service, to help support the delivery of the above plans. Bristol
Recruiter: Bristol City Council

Policy Advisor – The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN)

Department for Transport
£37,803
Look to the sky for a great career opportunity Woking, Surrey
Recruiter: Department for Transport

Skilled Road Worker (TRR)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£26,025 - £31,536 depending on knowledge, skills and experience
Do you want to be part of a supportive team and use an innovative method of working on the highway? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Director of Transport & Sustainability

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£93,098 - £102,841
This dynamic role will see you provide strategic leadership to our transport strategy Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Highways Customer Communications Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
£27,741 to £30,451
We are looking for a strong communicator to join our Highways Team in Boroughbridge.   Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 2

Northumberland County Council
£24,313 and £26,999
We are looking for candidates to fill the post of Assistant Engineer. Morpeth, Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Street Cleaning Operative / Driver

Barnet London Borough Council
Competitive Salary
We are looking for hard working, motivated, reliable people to join our team. Barnet (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Highways Manager - Operations

Lancashire County Council
£46,566-£50,514 Per annum
Lancashire is a vibrant and striking place to live and work and it’s also one of the fastest growing locations in the UK. Lancashire
Recruiter: Lancashire County Council

Highways Inspector

Hackney London Borough Council
£28,752 - £32,577
We are looking for an organised and self-motivated individual to join our Streetworks Team based in Hackney Central. Hackney, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • Shell celebrates 100 years of bitumen
  • Why we need to be more strategic about safety
  • Major reforms aim to close cycling gap
View the latest issue

Latest Video