SPRINGFIELD, NJ — When a Mountain Avenue resident noticed a road striping application the county put down less than two years ago was coming up, he questioned whether painting the lines might have been a better use of taxpayer dollars.
When the resident, who requested his name not be used, showed up at LocalSource offices, he brought with him several plastic bags of the yellow striping material that is applied to the middle of the roadway and shoulder to define traffic boundaries. At issue, he said, was why the material was coming up in the first place and why did the county use this application if it came up that easily.
LocalSource contacted the county and spoke with Department of Public Works Director Joseph Graziano, who explained the history his department has had with “hot strips.”
“We had an issue with this material in the past,” he said, explaining the county paves approximately 12 miles of roadway a year, which is subcontracted out through competitive bidding.
This paving is costly, but the county receives $4 million from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund, requiring only $1 to $2 million additional taxpayer dollars to do the job. Exactly what roads get repaved and restriped is determined by wear and tear.
“We have a map with all county roads on it and we go out and look at these roads on a regular basis,” Graziano said, noting that a typical county road lasts approximately 8 to 10 years.
Many factors go into why one county roadway deteriorates faster than others, including surface water retention and overall use. The oldest roads get paved and striped first, the DPW director explained, but a road that is not as old but has severely deteriorated could be put to the top of the list.
Graziano explained that while the paving is contracted out, the striping of the roads paved is subcontracted out by the contractor who uses “thermo plastic” for striping on some roadways.
Application of this material involves the use of a hot liquid applied to the road, which usually lasts six years. However, while the county had been using a specific 3M product, in 2011 and 2012, they changed things.
“We used a different product of theirs during those two years that was more expensive and it was supposed to last longer, with reflectivity that could last as long as 15 years,” Graziano said, adding the county only used it on a few roads, or a small part of the overall paving countywide, but it became apparent there were problems with the application.
“It began to come up off the road,” the director explained, but pointed out the 3M company stood behind their product.
“It should be noted that 3M repaired all the striping that came up at their own cost and at no additional cost to the county,” Graziano said, adding the company used a more expensive product to repair the striping.
It actually is not unusual for there to be problems with paving jobs and traffic striping.
“In 2012 we had issues with a product on Mountain Avenue in Mountainside and we repaired it,” he explained, noting the road paving contractor was Schifano, who subcontracted the striping out to a company called Traffic Lines.
The county also had issues with the hot strips on South Springfield Avenue in 2011, Graziano said, but the problems were once again repaired.
The contractor for this work was Smith-Sondey and the subcontractor for the striping was Statewide.
Also in 2011, Graziano said, the 3M product was used on Lamberts Mill Road in Scotch Plains and Westfield, but again there were problems with it peeling up. The contractor in this instance was Schifano and the subcontractor for the striping was Traffic Lines.
Other instances where the 3M material failed to adhere to the roadway included work completed in 2012 on Terrill Road in both Scotch Plains and Plainfield. In this instance the contractor was Smith-Sondey and the subcontractor for striping was Statewide.
“Tracey Drive in Mountainside was probably the worst instance, but that was repaired,” the DPW director said, adding that Smith-Sondey was the contractor in that instance and the subcontractor for striping was Statewide.
Graziano said after LocalSource contacted him last week, he and a DPW crew went up and down Mountain Avenue and was unable to find where the striping peeled up.
“It would help if residents called the DPW when they notice this happening so we know exactly where the striping is coming up,” Graziano said.