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Journal Article


Malmivuo M. Res. Rep. Finn. Transp. Agency 2012; (29): online.


(Copyright © 2012, Finnish Transport Agency)






The purpose of this study was to examine the functionality of a wide center marking in winter conditions. The study especially sought to find out if the wider center area would gather more snow, slush or ice than the center area of roads with a traditional center marking. The research was conducted in the experimental road stretches with a wide center marking situated in Laitila, Noormarkku and Laihia, Finland. The study included a total of 32 spot-check measurement series that were used to carefully examine the conditions on a specific stretch of the test road compared with a regular road stretch situated nearby. The measurements did not reveal that the center areas of the test roads would have a thicker build-up of snow, slush or ice. However, on the test roads in Laitila and Noormarkku, the snow or slush was often gathered in a wider area compared to the nearby control roads. Yet the control road of the Laihia test road, situated in Mustasaari, had more snow and slush in the center area than the Laihia test road. This seemed to be due to the greater width of the pavement in the Mustasaari control road compared to the Laihia test road. Friction measurements revealed that the center areas of the test roads were not more slippery than normal. However, the friction measurements were difficult to conduct, as the tires of only one side of the measurement vehicle could fit on the center area at any given time. In connection with the spot-check measurements, the effect of audio-tactile-profiled (ATP) lane markings, or rumble strips, of the center area in winter conditions was also evaluated. Situations in which the effect of the ATP marking was clearly diminished due to snow or ice build-up were rare and momentary. The study also compared the images of a road-condition camera mounted on the test roads of Laitila and Laihia with those taken by road-condition cameras of nearby roads. This comparison, as the previous measurements, did not reveal significant problems related to winter conditions on the test roads. Furthermore, the study included interviews with contractors responsible for the winter maintenance of the test roads. The contractors emphasized that the ATP markings (which were located also on the center areas of the test roads, whereas regular roads usually have them on the sides) cause the plough to vibrate, which makes the ploughs break sooner than normally. In addition, the contractors believed that the wider center marking would lead to a greater buildup of slush in the center area due to traffic. However, the wider center marking as such did not bring any additional challenges to winter maintenance. One interviewee even said that it felt safer to plough the test road, because oncoming traffic was farther away from the edge of the plough. Even though the results of this study were partly contradictory and the research design quite challenging, the study did not give reason to believe that winter conditions would cause any such difficulties for the functionality of a wide center area that would overweigh the benefits to road safety it brings in good road conditions (on bare road).



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