Wisconsin DOT first in U.S. to test reflective orange lane paint for making work zones more visible to drivers

An articulated dump truck hauls fill for the new southbound ramps on a jobsite for the new Milwaukee Zoo interchange. Credit: WisDOTAn articulated dump truck hauls fill for the new southbound ramps on a jobsite for the new Milwaukee Zoo interchange. Credit: WisDOT

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has announced that it will be the first DOT in the United States to test a reflective orange paint in an attempt to make construction work zones more visible to drivers passing by.

WisDOT has applied the paint to three sections of pavement on Interstate 94, to the east and west of construction on an interchange to the Milwaukee Zoo.

The orange paint replaces the traditional white and yellow lane and edge markings. WisDOT said many drivers had difficulty seeing the traditional lane markings last winter due to salt residue on the roadway.

According to both federal safety data and survey results from the Associated General Contractors of America, work zone crashes are responsible for a high number of injuries among construction workers.

From 2003 to 2010, more than 962 workers were killed at road construction sites. In a survey conducted last spring, the AGC found that 45 percent of contractors experienced work zone crashes on their jobsite in the past year, with workers injured in 20 percent of crashes, and killed in 6 percent of crashes.

WisDOT received permission from the Federal Highway Administration to test the paint which has been used to denote work zones in Europe, Canada and New Zealand, but never before in the U.S.

The DOT hopes the orange paint makes lanes more clearly defined and will track the paint’s performance in diverse weather and time of day conditions. WisDOT will also be monitoring the reaction of motorists to the orange lane markings. The DOT also plans to issue a survey to motorists in order to gather further reactions and opinions on the paint.