Transportation Defined: Recessed Pavement Markers

Transportation Defined: Recessed Pavement Markers

January 25, 2013

Recessed pavement markers are used in colder climates.

Recessed pavement markers are used in colder climates.

Most drivers are probably familiar with pavement markers…

They’re the reflective objects typically placed on the road in between pavement stripes – you’ll often see them along the solid pavement lines, too, or on exit/entrance ramps. Basically, they’re used to give drivers a better guide at night.

Nothing new there, but did you know that the markers can vary depending on their location?

That’s right … if you travel up north you may notice that the pavement markers are recessed, rather than raised as they are in most other parts of the state.

Any ideas why that is?

We asked ADOT Project Supervisor Rick Schilke for an explanation and he says it has to do with snowplows.


A diagram of recessed pavement markers.

“Up here, we sink the pavement markers down for the plows, otherwise they’d just pop right off,” he said.

Makes sense to us!

Installing recessed pavement markers requires a little more work than the raised markers. Schilke says crews must grind a groove into the road that tapers down at an angle allowing for reflection. The marker is then put into place with an epoxy.

One more thing to note: In areas where snow is expected in the colder seasons, ADOT crews actually recess stripes, too. (We’re not talking about painted stripes, ADOT uses striping “tape” that’s more durable and reflective than paint.) The striping tape is recessed so that it won’t be displaced by snowplows.

Transportation Defined is a series of explanatory blog posts designed to define the things you see on your everyday commute. Let us know if there's something you'd like to see explained ... leave a comment here on the blog or over on our Facebook page!

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