Insourcing Pavement Marking Operations

Fall 2020

Client: City of Somerville, MA

Team Project

In this project, a team of classmates and I evaluated what it takes for a mid-sized municipality to insource its municipal pavement marking operations. Below is an extract from the introduction I wrote.

Urban planners and allied practitioners have increasingly recognized that street design has a strong relationship with behavioral practices on city streets. Successful and safe streets organize public right-of-way to achieve the following:

  1. Balance the dimensional requirements of different modes of travel;

  2. Ensure that people moving in lights modes – walking, bicycling, or riding transit, scooters, skateboards, and wheelchairs – can move comfortably and with low risks of injury; and

  3. Make driving a less dangerous activity by ensuring that roadway design speeds match those of posted speed limits (in other words, 20-mph streets should be sufficiently narrow so that driving at 45 mph would not feel comfortable).

To implement capital improvement plans and routine maintenance work, many cities opt to outsource pavement marking operations. However, in contexts where a limited number of vendors are available to supply this service, some municipalities may face difficulties scheduling work during peak painting months. As a result, pavement marking quality may lag behind a municipality’s preferences, and the pace of work may not be fast enough to match local needs and planning goals. To remedy these issues, local governments may consider insourcing either a portion or all of their municipal pavement marking operations.