Ask the PAC: Stripping the stripes

The pavement restoration process, although seemingly easy, requires a lot more planning and stages than expected.|

Ask the PAC

This weekly feature aims to get to the bottom of Petalumans’ burning questions and provide insight into vexing daily curiosities.

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Driving around Petaluma, there seem to be several changes: Lush green lawns replaced with browning grass as we work towards reducing our water consumption, students returning to in-person school after a year, a giant rabbit art structure in the Bertotti’s nursery backyard.

Observant drivers who focus on the roads while driving may have also noticed road marking stripes missing on certain roads. It was this observation that led a reader to check in and question “what’s up with all the streets being scraped off?”

Question: Road markers are being scraped off ahead of road work and then take a long time to be repainted. Is there a standard in place that the city aims to hit? Are there safety concerns?

Answer: Road markers are important. Correct.

It should be easy to repaint them. Wrong.

The pavement restoration process, although seemingly easy, requires a lot more planning and stages than expected. As explained by the city’s interim public works and utilities director, Gina Benedetti-Petnic, the process requires the original markers be removed, the pavement restored, and the marking replaced. While this happens, temporary markings need to be installed and the sealing process has a “curing” time before the final markings can be installed (14 days is preferred).

Residents have also wondered why the city doesn’t take the opportunity to adjust traffic lines and markers after performing slurry seal work. More specifically, why is the city not using this work as a time to create more bike lanes?

“Our slurry seal work is being done as preventative maintenance on existing roads to enhance safety and extend the life of the road for all users. The newly sealed surfaces with filled cracks and refreshed crosswalk and lane stripes were not intended nor budgeted to reconfigure the roadway,” Benedetti-Petnic said via email. “Active transportation improvements, like bike lane striping, are always considered during design of road improvements. In the current project, many of the slurry sealed streets are small residential streets with “share the road” bike lanes, appropriate for neighborhood streets with low speeds and low volumes of traffic.”

The process of changing traffic lines is tricky and involves community engagement (gauging if neighborhoods are OK with potentially losing parking or narrowing the flow of traffic) along with engineering work.

“We are currently looking at redesigning the striping of many streets in town to accommodate more bike lanes when appropriate and make the curbs, ramps, sidewalks, and crosswalks safer for strollers, pedestrians, and other mobility devices like wheelchairs and scooters,” said Benedetti-Petnic. “Our priority with the current pavement sealing project is to maintain the integrity of those road surfaces which are not too far gone, prolonging the life span of these streets in a cost-effective way for the safety of those using them.”

The city is working with the contractor to ensure this process proceeds as seamlessly as possible and safety is not impacted. The project plans and specifications include City Standards, and the project is designed and inspected for consistency with those plans and standards. More information about the 2021 Pavement Restoration project information page can be found at

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