Siouxland Stories: Painting on a concrete canvas

Siouxland Stories

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Taking a summer vacation is a highlight for many folks. Driving there might not be. Since summer also offers road crews ideal conditions for making improvements, traffic often is slowed. However, the temporary tie-up offers years of safe driving, thanks to the “Picasso’s” of the pavement.

When interstate traffic is backed up for a mile or two, it’s probably because these guys are hard at work.

“Get up to Riverside and hold tight,” said Adam Ponsor of Quality Striping Inc.

Ponsor is project supervisor, alongside some 20 professionals applying new road markings on I-29 through Sioux City.

“On this project, we probably have close to $3M worth of equipment. Multi-millions of equipment across the state of Iowa,” Ponsor adds.

To the everyday driver, this might be a painting project. But when your canvas is concrete, a masterpiece takes more than a brush.

“Grinding truck on this project is operating at about one and a half miles an hour,” said Ponsor.

A laser guiding the way. Each grinder carving a path. 

“We want the surface as clean as possible,” Ponsor adds.

A watchful eye, focused as the ground trembles below. By night’s end, hundreds of shiny new 20-foot stripes will blanket one of Iowa’s busiest interstates.

“The type of paint we’re putting out here is a multi-component epoxy. So, it’s a two-part mixture of a catalyst and a resin,” Ponsor said.

“It’s a shadow marking to emphasize the white stripe to keep the driver’s attention.  It helps with a lot of the newer vehicles have lane assist to keep you in your lanes,” said Ponsor.

Hundreds of gallons of product expected to endure Iowa’s extreme weather and your screeching tires.

“All this paint is getting inlaid into the concrete,” said Ponsor.

Yet, visible day or night and in good weather and bad. 

“In the paint line, you will see little balls called the 3M element. They are used as a light-reflecting material where when they are dry, half the element will reflect and then when they get wet, the reflection index changes and they will then reflect with water on them,” said Ponsor.

Like slow-moving visitors at an art gallery, drivers pass by each warned, ‘Do not touch!’

“When you see the lights, the flashing lights please slow down. Make sure you are vigilant of the signs on the roads. We want our guys home to their families at the end of the night just like everybody else,” said Ponsor.

On this night, it takes about three hours to stripe some two miles of pavement. Like any paint project, mistakes can happen.

“Luckily, we have this thing called the Magic Eraser. A water blaster that shoots water at 40,000 PSI that can fix the mistakes for us, and we get a second chance,” added Adam.

The arrival of the Magic Eraser marks the end of another classic piece of work.  A supercharged pressure sprayer peels back any problem areas, leaving a smidge-free finished product. It can be thankless work.

The next time your speed is slowed, and you get ready to flash these folks a one finger greeting

“It happens every single night and our policy is just kill’em with kindness, that’s all we can do,” says Adam.

Think about sending them a smile instead. Sit back and enjoy this one-of-a-kind painting that helps keep you safe whether coming or going.

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