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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
Have a problem with the new yellow striping on local roads? Get in line. Although if it’s anything like the recent striping, it might not be a straight line.
Residents around Ketchikan are noticing the new road stripes painted by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities this week on much of the Tongass Highway, and the main thoroughfare through town.
Some residents are complaining about the unsightliness of the poorly drawn lines, some about the large swaths of yellow paint smeared across the highway, and others are grumbling about the apparent paint damage to their vehicles.
“That’s the poorest job of striping I think I’ve seen on a state highway,” Ketchikan City Council Member Bob Sivertson said during Thursday’s meeting.
Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Landis also had harsh words for the new lines on Friday.
“First of all, I’ve never seen striping paint applied so thick and wet, in particular,” Landis said. “It just goes on and on for miles.”
“You come to expect having highway striping like that to be straight and have orderly looking lines and be professionally applied,” Landis said. “It looks almost like someone was playing a joke with all of the squiggly lines. Something was clearly wrong with the equipment or the operation of that equipment to have so many things wrong all at once.”
DOT Spokesperson Meadow Bailey on Friday told the Daily News that the recent striping operation in Ketchikan was not a typical one.
“Well, we are working with a new striping system and we’re testing a new water-based paint and we’re having some challenges with the paint due to humidity,” Bailey said. “It’s not drying as quickly as it should due to humidity in Southeast Alaska.”
“We’re working to improve and refine the process,” Bailey later added.
Bailey went on to say this is the first season that DOT has tried using this new paint in Southeast Alaska. Although she said the paint is standard across much of the United States.
Landis said he has been getting calls from residents saying there were no signs warning of the wet paint. Bailey explained that putting up signs for striping is not typical: “There aren’t usually signs or cones out during striping because it’s a moving operation.”
Regardless of signage or the lack thereof, a number of vehicles can be seen around Ketchikan bearing the distinctive yellow paint. Even the borough mayor was not immune.
“I’m actually one of the victims,” Landis added. “One of our cars has got yellow paint all over it and it just looks terrible.”
In an email, Bailey explained the process for residents who want to remove paint that might have gotten on their vehicles.
“The paint manufacturer recommends that a pressure car wash as soon as possible if paint gets on a vehicle,” she wrote. “This will loosen and remove most of the paint. If the car wash doesn’t remove the paint, allow the water to dry off of the vehicle and then spray the paint residue with WD-40, allow it to remain for 1-2 hours and rewash the vehicle. The WD-40 will soften the traffic paint without harming the vehicle’s finish. If there is a heavy concentration of paint, repeat the WD-40 procedure.”
“For heavy accumulations or paint that has dried for several days, apply a liberal coating of Vaseline to the dried traffic paint and allow it to remain overnight. The next day, take the vehicle to a pressure car wash to remove the paint. If this doesn’t remove all of the paint, repeat the procedure,” Bailey added.
Bailey said that DOT would not be repainting the yellow lines. “Any tire tracks will wear off very soon,” she added.