Côte Saint-Luc City Council recently issued its annual public call for tender seeking contractor services for line painting and street line markings. There were two conforming bids and as required by law the Council awarded a contract to the lowest conforming bidder, Lignbec, for a total, all-inclusive price of $81,546.

The resolution requires that all paint shall conform to the most recent government norms. What this means is that the paint must be water-soluble as opposed to longer lasting oil based paints that have higher visibility compounds. The reason for this requirement to only use water based paint is to protect the environment as street line markings will eventually wear off and wash into the drains.

And herein lies the problem. The city spends $81,000 every year to reapply paint in the spring that barely lasts to the end of the year, with rain, snow, road salt and snow plows washing and scraping away at all that paint. By the time the next winter has ended there’s hardly a school cross walk, stop line or lane divider left clearly and solidly in place.

Despite sprinkling powdered glass onto the wet paint to increase its reflective nature to improve motorists nighttime visibility, today’s legally required road paints are not terribly effective, not highly visible at night and not very long-lasting.

Some heavy-duty R and D is needed in the paint industry to improve the quality of water based road line paints.