News | 18 September 2023
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Trial starts to remove ghost road markings

Ghost markings left behind on roads may be a thing of the past with Wellington City Council trying new treatments that could remove old marks in a faster, more effective and cheaper way.

Ghost markings on a two way road.
Ghost markings on Whitmore Street that will be removed in the upcoming trial.

When the layout of a road changes in the city, there are occasionally ‘ghost markings’ left behind from where the old road was marked out.

Wellington City Council has heard complaints over the years asking for better management of road marking across the city when they are changed.   

In the past, one method to remove the old lines would be to resurface the street – a task that would be costly and time consuming, says Council Transport and Infrastructure Manager Brad Singh.

“We’ve tried painting over the redundant markings with black paint, to covering them with long life black out material such as a cold applied plastic. And we've had to move away from removing the old markings by water blasting them off as it leaves an impression in the road and fills with water in wet weather – under head lights at night they still reflect like a road marking."

Brad says that all these treatments have their pros and cons with every one of them leaving some impression of the old markings. 

“More recently we have been covering markings with a long-life product that starts to blend with the road over time and permanently covers the original marking rather than the marking showing through over time as happens with black paint as it wears off. This treatment however still looks like a marking in certain lights.
“The cheapest method is to paint over the lines with black paint and this is used in situations where we expect the changes to be temporary, such as at road works sites or when we expect to come through to resurface the road within a year.”

Now, the team have two different promising treatments that they are trialling that will properly remove the marks from the road. 

The two treatments will be trialled on Bowen and Whitmore Street.

Ghost markings on a two way road looking up the street.

“On Bowen Street, we will be using a vapour treatment that is similar to sand blasting but less destructive. On Whitmore Street, we’ll be trialling an emulsion technique which blends the marks into the road and doesn’t cause any destruction, with a longer lasting effect.”

Brad says the team have been looking for new solutions since the current methods weren’t working, and the Council recognised how these markings affected safety on the roads. He says they're working towards a long lasting, more efficient option. 

“We recognise these shortcomings of ghost markings across the city and have been looking at trials for when the weather improves and the road temperatures increase, which provides the best conditions to apply the new treatments." 

 The trials will begin over the next few weeks dependant on the weather, and the results will be compared to figure out the best solution.