An unexpected delay is backing up road projects around the country but not in Georgia.
According to Associated General Contractors of America, a shortage of thermoplastic — reflective paint — is causing some state departments of transportation to delay road striping projects.
The paint is becoming scarce because of a shortage of methyl methacrylate — or MMA — and titanium dioxide. MMA gives the paint its reflective quality, while titanium dioxide is used as a paint brightener. The titanium compound is used in a variety of products — including sunscreen and printing inks, so the shortage may affect multiple industries.
Citing production problems, a few of the companies that manufacture the paint began reporting shortage issues in late April. Among other things, the paint is used for crosswalks, separating road lanes and delineating road shoulders.
Because the Georgia Department of Transportation limited its summer road work, it isn’t experiencing the same delays that other states are seeing.
“We have not experienced a shortage when we order thermoplastic, but we aren’t doing as much resurfacing — except emergency work — due to budget constraints,” said Teri Pope, GDOT spokeswoman.
While Georgia has escaped the shortages, the cash-strapped department hasn’t avoided the crisis altogether.
“Current contracts for paint and thermoplastic have not been affected, but according to our maintenance activities unit, new contracts will have approximately a 10 percent paint price increase,” Pope said.
Pope said that increase has been attributed to the shortage of product.
With more than 19,000 miles of federal and state roads to maintain, that increase may create a costly problem for the department, which recently had its annual maintenance budget slashed by more than $200 million.
Transportation departments in Texas, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin have reported having their summer work schedules delayed because of the paint shortage. Because roads have to be repainted after extensive sealing and paving is done, some departments are having to put off those projects.
Industry experts said it may take up to six months for the shortage to end.