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State Blames Paint Shortage for Lack of Bids for Brown County Road Restriping Project

No one wants to stripe Brown County’s roads:

Contractors chose to stay on the sideline rather than compete to mark 613 miles of pavement on South Dakota roads belonging to counties in the Aberdeen region.

The reason probably was a temporary shortage of marking material, according to Sam Weisgram, who works for the state Department of Transportation.

He told the South Dakota Transportation Commission that the project probably would draw bids when it’s offered a second time, but the work might not be done until 2022 [Bob Mercer, “No Bids Received on S.D. Road Project,” KELO-TV, 2021.05.28].

Traffic Solutions Inc. of Harrisburg and Dakota Barricade LLC of Rapid City were willing to bid on 76.8 miles worth of striping around Pierre, and even amidst the shortage of striping material, both companies were able to bid around 6% below the engineer’s estimate of $103,572 for the job, but evidently no one has the paint or time for 613.5 miles of striping up around Aberdeen.

The pavement-marking shortage appears not to be a new problem. The roadbuilders’ industry spoke of shortages of paint, epoxy, and thermoplastic last year. The pandemic caused a slowdown in road construction activity, but evidently that decrease in demand has been outpaced by the decrease in supply due to coronavirus shutdowns of plants producing the raw materials for road markings. February’s winter weather and power outages in Texas also froze the chemical industry and our paint supply; severe weather in Texas in April further slowed paint production.

But in 2010, the American Traffic Safety Services Association reported a similar shortage due to the global economic downturn, a Dow Chemical plant shutdown in Texas, and competition  with more profitable industries for key chemicals. One industry observer contends that the current shortage in road-marking materials results from longer-term market forces to which the paint industry has not responded:

None of this news is good, and most of the problems are being blamed on some combination of COVID-19, the “Great Freeze of 2021,” and increasing consumer demand. To an extent, it is reasonable to lay the current problems at the feet of these three sources of disruption, but I would posit that all three of these sources of shortages, compounded with late deliveries; force majeure declarations; the sharp and rapid increases in the price of raw materials; the resultant price increases in finished products, such as paints, coatings, varnishes, stains et al., have merely decreased the timeframe in which our current problems manifested themselves, rather than caused them.

The handwriting has been on the wall for quite some time. Erratic oil prices during the period 2014–2020; rising consumer demand during this same period of time; historically low mortgage rates, which have fallen steadily from a high in 16+% in 1981 to ~2.5% in early 2021, before rising to ~3% in early March, fueling a major residential housing boom; serious problems, during the past decade, with insufficient personnel and equipment in the trucking sector, that is galloping into the current decade with a vengeance; an extremely high savings rate; high consumer confidence; and the list goes on, have all been acting, over the past several years, on the economy to bring us to the point where we are today.

There is no point blaming COVID-19, the Gulf Freeze, or any other factor or set of factors. The problem is that U.S. industry, in general, and the paint and coatings industry, specifically, have failed to build resilience into their supply chains, and are now paying the price for their negligence. The United States is now putting an additional $1.9 trillion in new stimulus funds into circulation at a time when many experts feel that we are on cusp of a consumer boom, and this will only exacerbate the situation for the most prepared of all manufacturers and potentially wreak havoc on less-prepared producers of raw materials and finished goods, who have failed to build sufficient resilience into their supply chain philosophies and practices [George R. Pilcher, “Paint and Coatings Raw Materials in 2021: It’s All About Resilience,” Coatings Tech, April 2021].

Whatever it takes to resolve this shortage, Brown County had better find some paint or groove tape fast. Clear lane markings save lives.


  1. John 2021-05-30

    The latest republicant counter-proposal to President Biden’s infrastructure plan calls for spending about what the US already spends on infrastructure. In other words, the bad-faith dealing republicants counter-proposal is flat-lining infrastructure spending. It’s impossible to negotiate with them. The democrats have barely a year left until the next campaign season nonsense begins (Memorial Day to Election Day 2022). The democrats better get something done or the US voters will throw the bums out, in the never-ending cycle of throwing out bums, which will rinse and repeat in 2024 if nothing changes.

  2. Richard Schriever 2021-05-30

    Evidently the shortage doesn’t exist in Nebraska. 10 miles of road I just finished up a couple weeks ago got temporary paint striping every night on sections of road, that were promptly turned into rubble the very next morning. Or maybe Nebraska is causing the shortage?

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-05-30

    Jeez, I just saw 4 gallons of that type of paint at lowes on their reduced rack, super cheap. Are you sure South Dakota didn’t paint itself into a corner?

  4. leslie 2021-05-30

    Numbers need to be painted in red on SD streets and highways to bring public awareness to who and the why that is behind this continuing nation-wide Republican insurrection.

    There is no shortage nor excuse for these bastards, imo.

    List of 561 voter suppression legislative bills. @billpascrell New Jersey House of Representatives Chairman, House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

  5. leslie 2021-05-30

    Excuse me: 361. (Pixel fuzziness)

  6. LCJ 2021-05-30

    Once again Leslie, you show your crack residue thinking.
    Please provide proof and not conjectures. Can you name one person who was stopped from voting that had a right to vote. Remember please provide proof, not pipe dreams.
    You are one of just many reasons why the Democratic Party in SD is in such a poor position ,financially, ethically and electability.
    Also, Mark 4 gallons of paint doesn’t go far on 613 miles.

  7. mike from iowa 2021-05-30

    Chicago Tribune, 2019…. According to PennDOT spokesman Ron Young, PennDOT goes through 1.6 million gallons of paint on road projects statewide every year. As Young pointed out, you could fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools with that much paint and still have about 300,000 gallons left over. All that paint can cover 114,000 miles. To put that in perspective, the Earth has a circumference of 24,901 miles.

    Someone with a calculator should be able to transpose numbers and deduce the paint needed foe 613.5 miles of striping in South Dakota.

  8. grudznick 2021-05-30

    Stay on your side of the road. Problem solved. Why does it always take simple grudznick common sense to solve these problems for you people.

    “You can stay on this side or you can stay on that side, but stay out of the middle!” – the cry of those who fear the Conservatives with Common Sense

  9. mike from iowa 2021-05-30

    Once again, the simple one totally missed the content of this post. Had nothing to do with driving on the wrong side of the road.

  10. leslie 2021-05-30

    14 states have passed voter suppression so far. ABC

  11. leslie 2021-05-30

    Brennan Center of Justice, not crack cocaine.

    BTW the Democrats are in the majority in the nation and in SD Dem and Independent voters dwarf your dying party. I must have missed your past electrifying posts!

  12. leslie 2021-05-30

    Chamberlain has actively limited voting quite recently. Lawyer Sarah Frankenstein is the west river champion of slippery voter suppression. Proof is in dah books.

  13. Jake 2021-05-30

    LCJ -the only PROOF necessary, even for someone dense as you, is to READ the bills proposed by your GOP Party (formerly with Lincoln supposedly as an ‘Idol’ -now with your hero Trump as its head) that so are so restrictive to voters that your party is afraid of and would like not to see vote because they are considered “unworthy’; only to clean your toilets, pick up your garbage, pick your fruit/produce, produce and prepare your meats and other foods but not choose what kind of government they deserve/want!
    What say you, Maga man?

  14. LCJ 2021-05-30

    Les, this is the suppression of illegal voting not legal voting. ABC news is not a credible news organization.
    “Dah” is not a word! You are a poor wordsmith.
    Mike, your link is to the ACLU which is not a credible legal org. If they were they would be up in arms about Facebook and other media suppressing the free speech of DJT while allowing radicals muslims to tcontinue to threaten Americans unchecked.
    Why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate America? Why do you hate SD? Why do you hate at all?

  15. Jake 2021-05-30

    LCJ-idiocy reigns in your world, for sure.

  16. LCJ 2021-05-30

    Thanks, truth hater, Jake. Also it looks like the Chinese virus really did come a lab in China. On purpose or by accident, time will tell. one thing is for sure, Trump was right again !!!! God bless America! God bless South Dakota and God bless Donald J. Trump! ABC news called Trump a racist when he first suggested it. Now the main-stream media are falling over themselves to get the juicy story!
    Makes all of the liberals look pretty foolish. Walk away from the liars and join freedom!

  17. LCJ 2021-05-30

    I clean toilets for a living, hater Jake. LJC is a Law Changing Janitor.
    Why do you hate janitors? Looks like the election audits are gaining steam, too !!!
    What you say about that lying Jake?

  18. LCJ 2021-05-30

    Oh, I get it!!!
    You just hate white janitors!
    How racist of you Jake the hater!
    You are as racist as the KKK
    Another Democrat society!
    Walk away and think for yourself

  19. grudznick 2021-05-30

    Mr. mike is from Iowa, so he doesn’t understand subtle or deep references.

    And before any of the out-of-state name-callers get their undies in a bunch, let it be known grudznick is a big fan of janitors. The biggest fan, probably. So you libbies get your selfs back in order.

  20. M 2021-05-31

    So, once again, since you Republicans don’t have a site of your own that’s intelligent and informative, you come to this site to trash us libbies. I’m sick of you and I’m tired of being criticized because I do believe in liberty but you don’t. I’m tired of fighting and being defensive because as a woman I’ve had enough. I’ve had to work twice as hard as you lazy ass fat white men and then make half as much.

    Can’t we just have something of our own that you won’t trash or take away? Let us have a forum for intelligent discussion so get your stupid self off this site. Grudz, you are the kind of man I’ve always stayed away from, please leave me alone. Don’t tell me what to do, and go jack off somewhere else.

  21. mike from iowa 2021-05-31

    Kudos, M. Grudzilla’s only subtlety is in the way he tried to hijack posts with screeds against out of state posters who tell him what he needs to know but, but doesn’t want to hear.

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-31

    [Hey, how about we not hijack threads at all? There are enough other posts about voter suppression; let’s focus here on road paint.]

  23. LCJ 2021-05-31

    M, may I introduce you to Dakota War College ? It is run by an intelligent and honest conservative that allows comments on almost anything but I doubt he would allow your filthy masturbation comments.
    Also Fox News allows comments on their page. MSNBC,CNN,CBS ,ABC and other communist type news feeds do not .
    Your comments make for easy trashing. Sorry about your education or lack thereof.
    I Owe the World an Apology Mike, if you hate SD so much why are you here?
    If you are in Iowa, can you stop illegal immigrants from raping and murdering young girls?
    Why do your lib news feeds [Kelo storm central and SF Argus Liar] just call the sadistic SOB a farm worker and not what he really is?

  24. mike from iowa 2021-05-31

    Maybe Noem is waiting for libs to pony up guv funds to paint roads before she gives a contract to out of state buds who can help her 2024 campaign. The fed has ponied up the runway improvements pesos Noem wanted.

  25. mike from iowa 2021-05-31

    From the looks of certain hiways in iowa, paint might be all that holds them together, and iowa has been diligently resurfacing hiways and blacktops around my area for several years. That dime a gallon gas tax hike a few years ago must spur major construction of roads.

  26. cibvet 2021-05-31

    Corrupt capitalism, create a shortage, drive up the price. Create new billionaires.

  27. LCJ 2021-05-31

    Corrupt communism, make everyone stay home because of the Chinese virus. No one works, nothing gets manufactured causing shortages and high prices. Stop oil pipelines causing shortages of oil based products. Like road paint.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-31

    “No one works”? LCJ, while you were hijacking the thread, did you see the figures on South Dakota’s workforce participation levels? Most Americans are working.

    No one made me stay home, but out of good sense, I and millions of other Americans stayed home to prevent the spread of a deadly virus that does not care what country you are from.

    Stopping Keystone XL did not cause any shortage of oil-based products. Keystone XL never existed, so you can’t blame any current problem on its stoppage.

  29. LCJ 2021-05-31

    You do know oil is traded in a futures market, don’t you?
    Thank you,Gov. Noem for keeping SD free and working.
    Michigan Gov. Whittmer is shutting down 2 active pipelines and the liberal states are the last to go back to work.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-31

    Well, gee whiz, LCJ, maybe we need to conserve fuel, drive less, and convert more of our fleets to electricity so we can free up existing supplies of oil for making plastic and paint.

  31. grudznick 2021-05-31

    Only grudznick and Mr. H could have predicted a blogging about road paint that Mr. H. tried to turn into an attack would end up thusly.

  32. Lcj 2021-05-31

    Maybe if the 48 year veteran of Washington DC would not have killed thousands of energy jobs on his first day of office we would not see the rising energy prices we have now.
    How many un- recyclable electric cars do you have in your garage?
    Also if you look back,M turned your paint comments into some kind of sexist race card dilemma I just can’t resist putting people like her school
    Democrats can’t even get qualified candidates to run for half the open seats in the legislative elections
    You couldn’t even find money or a candidate to run against the worst candidate in Rapid City district
    J Castleberry who likes to throw police under the bus
    Yes I know GKN appointed her but I am sure that is a regret now that it is known she can’t keep her big mouth shut
    You guys missed a good opportunity again . You guys should pay me consulting $$$

  33. mike from iowa 2021-05-31

    The chemical toilet is calling you back, Lcj. Don’t let the door hit you where the phony kristian gawd split you.

  34. Richard Schriever 2021-05-31

    LCJ – Futures markets are GAMBLING – nothing more and nothing less. They don’t deal in real anything until the payment is due.

  35. LCJ 2021-05-31

    Violence from liberal Democrats and your racist ilk are expected as displayed this past year from your BLM incorporated and your antifa brothers and sisters,”Mike not from South Dakota “

  36. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-01

    Again, off-topic: the Left is not perpetrating violence nearly as much as the Right (Capitol insurrection), but even the Capitol insurrection appears not to be related to the shortage of road paint… unless all those right-wingers are too busy plotting insurrection and storming Capitols instead of doing real work.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-01

    Energy prices are rising because people are out traveling and buying gasoline again.

  38. mike from iowa 2021-06-01

    Biden to suspend oil and gas drilling in Arctic refuge, a move sure to make gas prices go up into the next 5 cents per gallon range and make certain magat trolls here whine some more.

  39. mike from iowa 2021-06-02

    People were laid oiff during drumpf’s hoax because drumpf and others were in charge, a term I use loosely. Blame drumpf for people not working.

    Biden restored 3 billion bucks more for food stamps for the year. To help people magats tried to punish because magats don’t want to force businesses to pay livable wages.

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