WALLA WALLA -- A national shortage of the paint used to stripe roads is leaving its mark in Walla Walla County.
A chip-sealing project on Touchet North Road is completed, but re-painting the road "is problematic" due to the shortage, county Public Works Director Randy Glaeser told county commissioners Monday.
Another project that could be affected is McDonald Road, which is scheduled to be chip-sealed next, Glaeser said.
Road crews in Kennewick and Benton County are also lacking paint to stripe road projects there, the Tri-City Herald reported today.
At a meeting of the Benton County commissioners in Prosser, Norm Childress, engineering services director, said it could be "three weeks, three months or six months" before he receives the paint he needs.
The problem stems from a shortage of two key ingredients used to make road paint, according to Brian Deery, senior highway and transportation director for the Associated General Contractors of America.
One component is methyl methacrylate, or MMA, a pasty product that mixes with the paint to make it easier for drivers to see. The other product, titanium dioxide, makes white paint reflective, Deery said in published reports.
The paint shortage has not affected Walla Walla or College Place, officials in both cities said today.
"We ordered our paint months ago, so we're OK," said Tom Purcell, city of Walla Walla public works director.
College Place likewise is having no problems, said Paul Hartwig, city public works director.
Fortunately, Glaeser said, Walla Walla County placed its order for road paint early this year "so we're fairly confident we'll get our paint."
The county buys its paint on a state contract and is fifth in line to receive its order, he said. That should allow county crews to re-paint all roads scheduled for chip-sealing this year.