In 1996, Pavement magazine published an article informing its readers about the converging chevron pavement markings being used in Japan. In 1999, Wisconsin became the first state in the U.S. to use this pavement marking pattern. It was a new pattern for the country and the state as well as an unfamiliar project for the pavement marking contractor who took on the job.
Converging chevrons are painted markings on roads used to reduce drivers? speeds and, in effect, decrease the amount of accidents that occur where the chevrons are installed. The chevron pattern consists of ?v-shaped? stripes and straight bars that gradually grow closer together. The narrowing of space between the chevrons gives the illusion that a car is going faster as the road is narrowing.
Early in 1999, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) gave the Wisconsin DOT approval to install a converging chevron pattern on an Interstate 94 interchange exit ramp as an experimental pilot test project. This spot was chosen because of its higher crash rate, which was above the statewide average, according to Southeast region traffic engineer with WisDOT Tom Heydel. Trucks, in particular, were having difficulty negotiating the ramp when driving in excess of the speed limit. WisDOT had previously installed overhead signs to depict the curve for drivers and included overhead speed warning signs. This had some success in reducing crashes, according to Heydel, but something else needed to be done to have a more significant impact. Heydel says that WisDOT had seen the research done on the converging chevrons in Japan and decided to ask the FHWA for permission to complete an experimental chevron pattern on I-94.
The project approval process involved WisDOT submitting a report showing the crash rate, speed of traffic, and prior methods used to reduce crashes along with other requirements. After the FHWA approved the project, WisDOT then solicited for bid quotes. Century Fence Company, Waukesha, WI, was the lowest bidder, according to Heydel, and the company was awarded the project of installing the new pavement markings.
Larry Frank of Century Fence was the project superintendent for the converging chevron I-94 job. Frank says he had never heard of the converging chevron pattern before the WisDOT project. However, Century Fence decided the new pattern was something it could and wanted to do.
Frank says they put their bid together, presented it to the state, and then the project was started. ?The unique prospect of the whole situation, being involved in a new situation, was very intriguing to me,? he says. ?It was something I very much wanted to do and be involved in.?
The project was completed over a two-night period in May of 1999. Because the painting was being done on an interstate, Frank says Century Fence had to do all the work at night. The chevrons were being painted on two lanes of I-94, and Frank estimates it took his five-person crew eight hours per lane to complete the markings.
The particular pattern installed on I-94 is 610 ft. long from the first chevron set to the last and is made up of 16 sets of chevrons as well as a line of parallelograms on both sides of each lane. Heydel says the WisDOT coordinated the installation of the markings while Century Fence did the actual installation of the chevron striping. Frank adds the state was in charge of positioning the chevrons because of the precise increments, but Century Fence was in charge of positioning the parallelograms as well as striping the entire pattern.
?Everything was measured and very precise right down to the quarter inch,? Frank says. ?This was no small task.? A large template had to be used for the chevrons. Frank says the template was so big it took four people just to lift it.
When it came to the actual striping, Century Fence used company built striping trucks. Century Fence manufactures most of its own equipment, Frank adds. Two pieces of equipment were used to complete the chevron and parallelogram pattern: one long liner truck was used for the long lines, and one hand unit (stencil truck) was used for easier maneuvering in the lane.