It’s not just you, lane stripes are hard to see

Anyone who has driven through Keizer at night in recent months, especially on River Road North, might have had some trouble determining whether they are maintaining the proper lane. 

Here’s the good news: Your eyes aren’t failing you.

The bad news? It might be a while before it’s fixed. 

“It’s true that the lines are difficult to see at times, especially if it’s wet,” said City Manager Chris Eppley during a Keizer City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 3. “We’re working on it, but it’s going to be a while. Drive carefully until then.”

Marion County’s striping vehicle is offline for a major overhaul. Marion County supplies striping services to Keizer. Mayor Cathy Clark said she had heard from residents with similar complaints on Lockhaven Drive and Chemawa Road.  

As of Monday’s meeting, there were still questions regarding what exactly had gone wrong. Public Works Director Bill Lawyer said his own son was the first to bring it to his attention. 

“I called the county to ask if anything had changed in the way they (Continued from Page A1)

were striping the road and they said they had increased the air pressure as the result of information they got at a conference,” Lawyer said. 

Contrary to intuition, the reflective properties of lane stripes do not come from the paint itself. The source is actually glass beads blown into the paint in a two-step process. 

When a car’s headlights shine on a pavement marking embedded with glass beads, the beads reflect the light back and are supposed make them easier to see at night. Increased air pressure might have blown the beads too far into the painted pavement for them to work effectively, but Lawyer also investigated past invoices for striping work. 

“I hoped to find out how many pounds of beads were used when they did the striping, but the invoices only say what we were charged,” Lawyer said. “It didn’t lead anywhere.”

The city paid $12,000 for beads in 2019, $9,000 in 2018 and $12,000 in 2017. 

Given that the county’s striping machine is out of service, Lawyer looked into the possibility of putting reflectors in place, but the cost escalated quickly. When he found ones that he deemed sufficient quality, they were $9 apiece. Placing reflectors on a half-mile stretch of River Road North would be roughly $3,600, but the costs wouldn’t end there. 

“Reflectors are a maintenance nightmare,” Lawyer said. “Once you put them down, you have to keep them down.”