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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-09-039
Date: April 2010

Pavement Marking Demonstration Project: State of Alaska and State of Tennessee-Report to Congress

Appendix B. Pavement Marking Test deckDdesigns

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Transverse Test Decks

Transverse test decks are the field method used by NTPEP. NTPEP test decks are located around the country, and the data are pooled to be used by any transportation agency. The procedures for conducting a test deck are based on the ASTM D 713 standard. This procedure calls for the site to have the following characteristics: (See references 48-50.)

  • An AADT greater than 5,000 vehicles per day.
  • Free rolling with no grades, curves, intersections, or close access points to minimize turning and braking movements.
  • Four-lane divided highway.
  • Full exposure to the sun with good drainage.
  • Roadway must have been in operation for at least 1 year.

Transverse test decks are installed using the protocol established in ASTM D 713 and by the NTPEP standards and best practices.(48) This protocol indicates the design of the test deck, appropriate installation conditions, and when and how to collect data after installation. An example of an NTPEP transverse test deck is given in figure 18 (photograph courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation), and an example of a transverse test deck in Alaska is given in figure 19 (photograph courtesy of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities).

Long-Line Test Decks

Long-line test decks are installed in the same location and direction as standard pavement markings. This allows the markings to be placed under typical circumstances, and they are subjected to normal traffic conditions. Long-line test decks give realistic installation and wear conditions to the markings. These conditions provide an environment where durability can be accurately measured and monitored.

Long-line test decks do not have a protocol for test location, installation conditions, or data collection procedures. This can lead to variations in design from one test deck to another, which may lead to variations in results between studies. These variations are typical when normal pavement markings are applied to roadways.

Figure 18.  Photograph.  Typical transverse test deck. The photograph illustrates yellow and white transverse pavement markings which lay across the right-hand lane of two lanes of one direction of a divided highway.  A road maintenance crew is working on the transverse pavement markings.  The crew members have placed orange cones along the lane as they work so that drivers do not enter the lane.

Figure 18. Photo. Typical transverse test deck.

Figure 19.  Photograph.  Transverse test deck in Alaska.  The photograph illustrates white transverse pavement markings across two lanes in the same direction of a divided highway.  There is a white edge line on the right lane, and there are white dashed lines separating the two lanes.  Two cars are traveling in the left lane.

Figure 19. Photo. Transverse test deck in Alaska.

As part of this research, a standalone paper comparing the results of the transverse and longitudinal test decks will be produced. A summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each test desk design can be found in table 33 and table 34.

Test Deck Summary

Both transverse and long-line test decks have advantages and disadvantages. Each method of pavement marking testing can provide useful information depending on the information being sought after.

Table 33. Advantages and disadvantages of transverse test decks.



  • Most common form of on-the-road testing.
  • They are used by the AASHTO-NTPEP program.
  • Markings can be placed close together in a relatively short length of roadway, which can help to minimize biases and provide reasonable uniform wear.
  • The close proximity of the materials on a transverse deck allows for quick data collection.
  • Materials in wheel track receive more hits than long lines and therefore act as an accelerated test deck.
  • Transverse decks are easier to organize and implement than long-line decks.
  • Conditions and applications of materials can be closely controlled.
  • The results may be good for comparing products to each other, but they are not representative of how the materials will perform in the field.
  • The criteria used to evaluate the markings are not the same as the criteria used to evaluate long lines, especially the criterion used to assess nighttime visibility.
  • Retroreflectometers cannot measure the retroreflectivity of the lines in the direction that they are worn and as drivers would view them at night. A subjective rating is used to indicate the performance of the line in the direction of travel.
  • Transverse decks require a lane closure to place the material and to evaluate the material.
  • Correlation between test decks is difficult due to traffic and environmental conditions and the subjective measures used to judge durability.
  • Markings are applied with handheld applicators, which do not provide the same consistency and quality of large trucks that are normally used to apply markings on roadways.

Table 34. Advantages and disadvantages of long-line test decks.



  • Marking materials are placed on the test deck with the same equipment that is used regularly to install markings.
  • Markings can be evaluated under real climate and traffic conditions.
  • Markings allow for the measurement of retroreflectivity in the direction of wear as well as the visual inspection of performance and durability in the direction of wear.
  • The results provide the best indication as to how a marking will perform in the field under similar conditions.
  • Retroreflectivity can be measured with mobile devices, increasing the safety to technicians and minimizing the impact on traffic.
  • There is not an established protocol for long-line testing like there is for transverse decks.
  • Evaluation with handheld retroreflectometers and/or colorimeters requires lane closures with a best-case scenario using a mobile operation.
  • Environmental conditions vary not only from State to State but within the State and on the test deck.
  • Location selection may prove to be difficult. Road sections need to be long and similar to provide similar weather and traffic conditions for all material to be tested.
  • Coordinating successful long-line test decks is a significant undertaking requiring a major commitment of those involved.
  • The long-line test decks may require a long evaluation period in order to determine differences between materials.

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