Iowa DOT News

Iowa affected by shortage of pavement marking paint

AMES, Iowa – June 10, 2010 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), in partnership with the state’s highway contracting industry, Federal Highway Administration, the cities and counties, and material suppliers, is working to address problems caused by a global shortage of and demands for the raw materials used to produce acrylic waterborne pavement marking paints.

The shortage primarily involves two products: (1) titanium dioxide (TiO2), the pigments used in all white and yellow roadway paints; and (2) methyl methacrylate (MMA), a main component in the production of acrylic resin used in the paint. 

The shortage has resulted in unprecedented delays and increased costs in the production of these products.  According to the Associated General Contractors of America, a leading association for the construction industry, the cost of resin from domestic suppliers is up 20 percent from 2009, and off-shore resin producers have increased their prices by 80 percent in that same timeframe.  Additional price hikes are possible mid-summer.  

Other factors contributing to the shortages and price hikes include shutdowns and repairs at production facilities. Manufacturers are operating far below past production levels. In addition, China recently discontinued exporting TiO2 to North America because the chemical was needed for their domestic market. China previously supplied approximately 15 percent of the U.S. market.

The adverse effects of the shortage are just starting to be felt in Iowa. According to the construction industry, and based on the Iowa DOT’s efforts to restock its paint inventory, shipments for orders of pavement marking paint are being delayed or, in some instances, paint is simply unavailable.  

The Iowa DOT’s number one priority remains transportation safety. If it becomes necessary to ration limited paint supplies, planned repainting of centerlines and edge lines of state roadways, and runways, taxiways and other key operational areas of public-owned airports, will be performed where it is most needed based on the condition of the existing pavement markings. The Iowa DOT will also work with the state’s contractors to assure that roadways under construction are reopened as quickly as possible.

The shortage has prompted the Iowa DOT to:

  • Identify alternative materials that can be used for temporary pavement marking, which still meet the high-quality construction standards.
  • Develop contingency plans that prioritize use of limited paint supplies for painting existing and new roads, and repainting airport operational areas.
  • Assess its contract bidding requirements.
  • Evaluate contracts out for bid or scheduled to be bid in the coming months.
  • Assist contractors with permanent pavement marking when they are unable to obtain paint.

In a typical year, the Iowa DOT’s maintenance crews paint the centerlines of all 9,400 miles of the Primary Road System and the edge lines of those same roadways not painted the prior year.

Iowa’s Runway Marking Program provides safety critical markings that offer operational information to pilots on the ground and from the air. Generally, airports are remarked every four years, if needed, and based on available state funding.

The Iowa DOT plans to continue to work with the contracting industry and suppliers to address the shortage, which is expected to persist through the end of this construction and maintenance season. The goals are to ensure that critical highway projects move forward to completion, and that any negative ramifications of events outside the control of contractors, subcontractors and suppliers are minimized.


For more information, contact:   Dena Gray-Fisher at 515-239-1922 or [email protected]




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