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Road Crews Grapple With Nationwide Paint Shortage

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D.C. is about to start long-term road work on New York Avenue.
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D.C. is about to start long-term road work on New York Avenue.

By David Schultz

Some states are having a difficult time putting stripes on their roads because of a nationwide shortage of paint. And the shortage appears to be the consequence of a recovering economy.

Brian Turmail, with a trade group for general contractors, says many stimulus projects are now coming to term and the companies that make paint can't keep up.

"No one wants to have this problem," he says. "But if you're going to have a problem, it's nice to see it's because of increased demand."

Turmail says the contractors he represents are having a tough time finding highway-quality paint.

"Worst case scenario," he says, "is that you've got a road that's freshly paved where the cones stay up because there's no paint or lane marking on it."

Jeff Caldwell, with Virginia's Department of Transportation, says this shortage could really hurt cold weather states, where almost all road construction is done in the summer.

"This is the peak of construction season," he says. "So this shortage is coming at a difficult time. But we do have other alternatives and those are in ample supply right now."

Caldwell says Virginia will use lower-quality paints until this shortage gets worked out, which he says could be in two to three months.

Maryland and the District are also developing plans to deal with the nationwide paint shortage.

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