How much do those lines on the street cost?

There is nothing so ubiquitous as pavement markings. Have you ever seen a pavement without some guide lines for cars? Some are minimal like the dashed white dividing line running the center of the street forever. Others are a veritable drawing board of options and guides and limits.

Illustration from a recent SFMTA plan for a really dangerous intersection.

They are everywhere and we take them for granted. That’s just one more reflection of what a rich society we are. We don’t even know what the most basic things cost. Not even those lines on the road that we have seen since we were babies.

In our recent photo essay on the thermoplastic work on 17th Street we observed the actual installation of some of these various lines but we paid little attention to what went into that effort behind the scenes. A lot of planning goes into these endeavors, and allocating where the money comes from and goes to is part of that. Many people take part at many different levels, each timing their efforts like a chess master hitting the clock.

The cost of the lines on the pavement is a combination of the cost of the workers and materials and equipment and all the planning steps that are never seen but have to happen. Upon review of a document related to a bunch of safety and street pavement marking upgrades on Arguello Boulevard. I pulled a few tables of costs for various types of pavement lines and some additional tables of backroom planning costs which are really eye opening. You can read that entire document yourself here.

This is the SFMTA San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet, an absolutely fascinating list of cool facts and figures that you can cite with authority. It is Dated December 30, 2013 but that is not so long ago. It helps one to understand the magnitude of the situation here in San Francisco.

Now, lets throw some charts up here.

These are the ten basic steps to do anything.





And on the application that we have been extracting the above figures and saleries from the source of the money was specified: Proposition K sales tax money was to be used:costs-moneyisfromPropK

All of which means that every intersection on 17th Street that they did that thermoplastic work on was costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000, if my figuring is correct. They did three intersections for a total of $15,000 dollars. This work is not cheap.

The City has approximately 7,200 intersections and over 1,000 miles of painted streets. I think it is fair to say that maintaining and improving this system is a challenge of the highest order. For more food for thought and a few interesting numbers you really should take a look at and perhaps save this cool transportation fact sheet specific to San Francisco. Fascinating stuff.

And check this article and video clip out on our sister site to see what happens if you don’t maintain and organize your surface streets.

And we will leave you with this picture showing Mission High School at 18th & Dolores with practically no crosswalks. Where’s their bright yellow continental pedestrian crossing stripes for the opening day of school? And it goes on all the way up Dolores Street.vlcsnap-2016-08-31-13h13m41s990

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