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Driver Ray Miller and striper operator Chris Gandy paint on a rural road in District 3 of Morgan County.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Driver Ray Miller and striper operator Chris Gandy paint on a rural road in District 3 of Morgan County.

Stripes are a ‘ray of light’ for night drivers in Morgan

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com· 340-2437

Street lights help drivers keep their vehicles in the lane at night in cities, but the guiding light for motorists on dark county roads comes from stripes and reflectors.

Morgan County commissioners realize that their roads are dark, and that’s why they strive to keep them edged with white paint on the sides and striped with yellow down the middle.

Commissioners Kevin Murphy and Stacy George and former Commissioner Richard Lyons jointly purchased a striping machine.

Murphy’s District 3 shop is the first user. So far, workers have striped 69 miles west of Interstate 65.

“Some of these roads have not been striped in 10 or 15 years,” said Murphy. “Our No. 1 complaint on our roads is that people cannot see them at night. We all chipped in and bought this machine, and it works wonderfully. It will pay for itself with the money we save on doing our own striping.”

After striping, Murphy added, crews are installing reflectors.

“This gives them more visibility at night,” he said.

Summerford Orr, New Cut Evergreen, Wilhite, West Lacon and Gandy’s Cove roads all got new stripes, Murphy said. Workers continue to work on roads east of I-65.

George said his District 4 shop will use the machine next.

“We’re paving right now, but we’ll be striping in the spring,” said George. “We’ll start in the Union Hill area where there’s a lot of dense fog.

“Stripes are like a ray of light for night driving in the county,” George said. “Without lines in the road, you have no navigational guide. It gives people markings to get around curves and keep them from running off the side of roads.”

District 2 Commissioner Ken Livingston said he’ll wait his turn.

“I talked to the foreman the other day, and currently we are resurfacing Thompson Road,” Livingston said. “We will probably have to use a contractor to stripe the road because none of the employees are trained to use the machine.”

Training workers

After his crews are trained, Livingston said, they should begin striping in the spring.

“We’ve got a lot of paving to do and some roads don’t need repaving, but it’s hard to see the markings,” he said. “We’ll have to re-do the stripes to keep our roads safe for people to travel, especially at night.”

Although his shop is not part owner of the striping machine, District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark said striping county roads in his area is a priority.

“We’re compiling a list of roads to stripe,” said Clark. “We contract ours out, and there are actually some roads so narrow that you can’t edge the sides. The stripes weather every five or six years to the point that you have to stripe, and we’ll do so soon. Off of the top of my head, I can think of 15 miles that we need to do.”

Safe driving

Murphy said stripes help people with vision problems.

“We don’t have street lights, and it’s dark on these roads,” said Murphy. “Striping is really safety for people with vision impairment.”

The machine is mounted on the special bed of a 1˝-ton truck. It takes three workers for the process: a driver, a rear operator and a flagman.

“I’ve gotten the most positive feedback for the striping than for any other project,” said Murphy.

“It’s a great investment. It’s been the cheapest investment. We can stripe and place reflectors on all roads in the district for less than the cost of two miles of contract paving, which is about $60,000.”

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