CHOKEPOINTS

Orange lane stripes debut on I-5 in Fife

Jun 9, 2023, 6:59 AM | Updated: 9:13 am

cars and stripes...

WSDOT didn't paint all of the stripes or over the stripes. They just added some orange paint to the stripes between lanes.(Photo from Chris Sullivan/KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo from Chris Sullivan/KIRO Newsradio)

New orange lane stripes debuted Thursday morning in both directions of Interstate 5 (I-5) in Fife, and it will remain in place until the fall.

The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration want to know if adding orange to the lanes inside construction work zones will make drivers pay better attention.

Tom Slimak is the WSDOT project engineer for this work zone in Fife. WSDOT didn’t paint all of the stripes or over the stripes. They just added some orange paint to the stripes between lanes.

“Everybody’s used to seeing skip stripes that delineate the lanes,” Slimak said. “What we’ve done is we’ve augmented that with an immediate preceding orange stripe.”

So half the stripe is white. The other half is orange.

When I first heard that WSDOT was doing this, I assumed it might paint the fog lines and everything inside the zone. I was a little confused when I drove through the area, so I asked Slimak why not do more.

“If we just did the lane lines, do we get better compliance with speeds? Is there a better lane assignment?” Slimak said.

Since this is a pilot project, WSDOT decided to try this first. It might try again in another work zone with more paint. 

“We’ll just have to see what the data tells us and then see what kind of conclusions we can draw,” Slimak said. “Was this beneficial, or should we maybe look to something else?”

Slimak mentioned data, WSDOT is going to track how this new paint job impacts driver behavior or if it does.

It is installing cameras inside the work zone to monitor how people are driving, and a driver survey will be put up to get your feedback.

“Coming up here in July, there will be a public survey, and we want the public to comment and give us the feedback,” Slimak said. “What did you feel like when you were going through the work zone? Did you notice it? Did you slow down? Did you notice our work zone and our workers out there?”

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That will determine whether you might see orange paint popping up in other work zones around the state.

This is the first time this has been tried. Four other states are trying it too.

“This is just another potential tool in our toolbox for work zones,” Slimak said. “It’s just a low-cost solution, some simple paint on the roadway. Does that enhance the worker safety and the safety of the traveling public going through our work zones?”

We’ll post a link when the public survey goes live next month.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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