Where maintenance work is restriping existing but faded markings, construction work involves layout and switching lanes from one place to another around a construction work zone. A construction striping job can be redirecting traffic onto a newly paved shoulder or wedge to enable a paving contractor to repair or repave a lane or it can involve redirecting traffic from one lane of a bridge or one side of a road.
“Basically we stripe to shift traffic from old asphalt to new asphalt just after the paver is done,” Younce says. “We have done so much of the construction-type work that when we pull up on a job it’s like a picture appears without ever seeing the plans,” Younce says. “We’re able to shave some time off and that’s really what it’s all about because the prime contractor can’t go to his next phase until a lane switch is done. So time is essential and we’re able to work quickly because of our experience and because of our equipment. If the equipment breaks down we often have a backup right on the site. Not many pavement marking contractors have that much equipment where they can afford to put two pieces out there just in case.”
Construction striping involves eradicating old lines and creating a new layout for the proposed switch. A surveyor comes in ahead of A Annandale and plots GPS points where a wall or lane line is going to be and A Annandale designs the layout based on those points.
Younce says sometimes crews do have to go back and tweak the layout. “Sometimes you don’t see things until you’re actually out there and have traffic going through it,” Younce says. “The state gives us the set of plans with lanes widths and points of ‘turniture’ and we lay it out based on that. If doesn’t work it’s not our responsibility because we put it in according to plans.”
He says maintenance projects have time restrictions because the temperature must be 45°F and rising before paint can be applied. “But on a construction contract they need us in there regardless of the temperature and they sign a waiver to get us in there and get it done. They need us to get that road marked because they can’t move on to the next phase until we finish our work.”
Younce says most highway work they do amidst live traffic “but for the most part we’re working behind the prime contractor because he’s already got the work zone blocked off. The prime contractor has a lane closure set up and we get in that buffer zone and stripe within that zone,” Younce says. “The only time we work outside of that zone is at each end. If we have to stop traffic it’s only at the entry and exit of that work zone.”
He says some construction striping jobs can last as long as two days and oftentimes A Annandale brings in two crews to handle the work – but often one crew will complete the entire project.
“Sometimes the GC doesn’t want the crew to leave the site because the first crew knows what’s going on and they have already been fitted into the construction process and the GC doesn’t want to change them. They don’t want to have to teach a new crew what’s going on and they figure they have the same guys paving the whole job so let’s have the same guys striping it.”
Reinvesting in Equipment
Having worked in the pavement marking industry for 38 years, Younce learned from the ground up, eventually rising to general superintendent in 1994. He started working as a consultant, “showing contractors why they weren’t making money or how to make more money,” when the opportunity to buy A Annandale came along in 2007.
“In 2007 the company was smaller and did a lot of parking lot work and some lane switches but not any long-line work,” Younce says. “They’d tried it but lost their shirt on it.” When the original owner died and the company was looking for some guidance, Younce bought it, very soon started bidding long-line maintenance jobs of hundreds of miles, and a shift in focus had begun.
Today, after moving into a new facility on 5 ½ acres with 34,000 square feet under roof, A Annandale Inc. employs 70 people – 20 fewer that Younce thinks he’ll need to pull off the jobs this summer so he’s hiring. The company operates 42 vehicles including six M-B Companies long-line paint trucks, two M-B long-line thermoplastic trucks, two Arrow Striping & Manufacturing marking eradication trucks, eight TMAs, four walk-behind thermoplastic handliners, three M-B Companies thermoplastic melter trucks, and assorted support vehicles and equipment. Younce says 80% of the fleet is two or three years old and he says he’s bought a new piece of equipment every year since 2008.