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Delineation in Construction


October 11, 2011



One small construction task could place your company in financial and legal distress. This one task I am speaking of is delineation. You could be the best general contractor, and have placed hundreds of miles of asphalt roadways and the forgetfulness of missing an edge line or centerline could put your company at financial risk.

Placing asphalt concrete is detailed work. This is why roadway contractors are called general engineering contractors. They must have an understanding of slope and grade to construct the proper asphalt depths that can absorb the dynamic loads of heavy and accelerating daily vehicle traffic. You must not forget that you are constructing a roadway for the general public. This is not a trail or asphalt driveway for your home. Thousands of commuters will be using this roadway daily. You must also be aware of this when starting, constructing and completing this operation.

Traffic control is also very important during your operation and an experienced traffic control contractor is important to continue your success. Placing asphalt concrete is difficult. Don’t admire your work when you are finished. Remember you are serving the public. The daily traffic must successfully travel through your recently placed construction zone. A vehicle could be traveling through this zone in night or day and it must travel through this area safe.

Most city and state governments follow the creed that, “It is the Contractor’s responsibility to provide for the safety of traffic and public during construction.” This statement must not be taken lightly. As an example, once you finish placing your final asphalt lift of concrete and the surface has dried to a temperature acceptable for traffic, then what is your next thought? It must be to successfully delineate traffic through your new roadway. Typically, government agencies require that obliteration of pavement delineation must be replaced before opening the travelway to the public. This delineation could be temporary or permanent, but it must be replaced. Remember, vehicles must transverse through this area and with no designated delineation could make this task dangerous.

As a contractor you are responsible to prove this delineation. Most agencies want this delineation to be placed back to the original configuration, either in permanent or temporary stripping. Typically, government agencies follow the following guidelines as follows:

  • Stripping as laneline or centerline pavement delineation shall be provided at all times for travelways open to public traffic.
  • When constructing multilane roadways (freeways and expressways) edgeline delineation shall be provided at all times for travelway open to the public.
  • Drop-offs are dangerous so shoulders or median borders adjacent to a lane being paved shall be surfaced (verb: to the top) prior to opening the lane of traffic.
  • There should not be more than 0.15-foot drop-off allowed between adjacent lanes open to the public.
  • New asphalt must be placed level or tapered on a slope of 30:1 or flatter.

These are only guidelines. You must review your specific contract special provisions, plans and specifications to determine the exact wording. You must always be aware of protecting the public through your construction zone.

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