Wayne Berry walks in the crosswalk at Sixth Street in downtown Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon. The Colorado Department of Transportation chose thermoplastic markings rather than paint, which they said is more durable in harsh weather. But many are questioning the material's durability this winter. The material costs five to 10 times as much as paint.

Photo by John F. Russell

Wayne Berry walks in the crosswalk at Sixth Street in downtown Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon. The Colorado Department of Transportation chose thermoplastic markings rather than paint, which they said is more durable in harsh weather. But many are questioning the material's durability this winter. The material costs five to 10 times as much as paint.

Crosswalks deteriorating

Thermoplastic added last year still beats paint, CDOT officials say

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Chunks of Steamboat Springs' crosswalks are peeling off, and some residents are unhappy about it.

The Colorado Department of Transportation added thermoplastic at five new spots and replaced markings at 11 spots on and near Lincoln Avenue, CDOT regional spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said in September. The agency chose thermoplastic markings rather than paint. Shanks said thermoplastic is more durable in harsh weather - and it also costs five to 10 times as much. Thermoplastic adheres to the asphalt, but snowplows can scrape it off.

Tracy Barnett, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs manager, said she's frustrated with the crumbling plastic.

"After the first snowfall, they were chipping," Barnett said. "It's in chunks all up on the sidewalk. : It's litter."

Shanks said she spoke to a CDOT expert about the issue Monday.

"He said that, yes, the stripes are chipping on the corners, which that happens, especially in communities like Steamboat, Aspen, Winter Park," Shanks said. "You've got the harsh winter. : Still, the markings themselves will still last longer than the stripes. They'll last several years instead of one season."

The city hasn't needed to do additional street sweeping because of the crumbling plastic, Steamboat Springs Assistant Streets Superintendent Ron Berig said. The thermoplastic is entirely CDOT's project, he said.

The issue could fade in the next year, however. CDOT and Steamboat plan to revamp curbs and add concrete on Lincoln, Public Works Director Philo Shelton said last week at a Mainstreet meeting.

CDOT would stripe differently when using concrete, Shanks said.

"What I believe they do with the concrete is they actually cut a section out : of the concrete and inlay a plastic in there," she said.

CDOT's budget year starts July 1, and the agency could put the project out to bid that month, Shelton said. Work could begin after Labor Day, he said. The city expects the Lincoln Avenue project to take until summer 2010 to complete.

Larry Backus, who said he worked for CDOT for 16 years, said the agency was wasting money.

Thermoplastic "would last longer in California or Arizona, but it's not meant for high-country snow," Backus said.

Shanks said thermoplastic was the best choice.

"Even though the materials for the thermoplastic cost more than paint, you're not saving all that much by switching to paint, because the traffic control and labor costs more," she said. "So for this kind of project, it made sense, especially because they wanted them to last into the concrete resurfacing project."

Comments

Brant McLaughlin 5 years, 9 months ago

Did anyone happen to notice the city road crews out in town today scraping off the remaining remnants of the new thermoplastic crosswalks. As if it wasn't bad enough that this stuff cost 5 to 10 times as much to put down, now we are paying city workers to scrape whats left off the roads.

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Brant McLaughlin 5 years, 9 months ago

Shanks said she spoke to a CDOT expert about the issue Monday.

"He said that, yes, the stripes are chipping on the corners, which that happens, especially in communities like Steamboat, Aspen, Winter Park," Shanks said. "You've got the harsh winter. : Still, the markings themselves will still last longer than the stripes. They'll last several years instead of one season."

"They'll last several years". I'd say about 25% of the thermoplastic was gone after the first two snowstorms. I'd also say nearly 100% of it was gone from US 40 by the end of February.

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