Recessed reflectors are for safety more than cost-savings

The in basket: As I drove down one of the numerous Kitsap County roads in which the centerline is marked by reflectors recessed into the pavement, I got to wondering if the county has noticed a savings in not having to replace so many of the reflectors that get knocked off by snow plowing or other causes. I also wondered if the county has an ongoing program of recessing the reflectors, and whether all areas of the county are getting them.

The out basket: County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea replied, “This is more a safety issue than a cost savings.  When it rains, moisture on the pavement tends to make painted centerlines difficult to see.  The recessed pavement markers greatly improve the centerline visibility.

“Raised pavement markers are often scraped off the road by winter snow and ice operations making them useless at the time when they are needed most. Recessing the markers prevents the plows from scraping the markers off, and motorists are given an added safety benefit during the winter months.

“Damage to markers during winter operations requires us to replace them during the summer. We don’t own a grinder for this type of work. It is more cost effective to contract the replacement work, as it only takes about two weeks each summer to do that.

“The contractor grinds the locations and we place the (reflectors) in the grind outs. The reason we only have a two-week window this year for our grind outs is that we have caught up with a backlog we used to have. The only grind outs we are doing now are those associated with the county road crews that are doing maintenance overlays and chip seals,” Jeff said.

“We have countywide criteria.  All county roads are treated the same.  First, the road has to have a striped centerline.  Secondly, the posted speed limit must be 35 mph or greater.  If a road meets those 2 criteria it gets recessed (reflectors).  Currently there are lower speed roads with (reflectors) on them, but they will not be replaced when they wear out.”

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