In October 2006, the extension of the I-355 north/south section of the Illinois Tollway was listed by Road & Bridges as No. 1 on its Top 10 Roads list. It was likewise in May 2006 that the Midwest division of NES Rentals took delivery of their first Stripe Hog Waterblasting System . From then until now, the Illinois Tollway and the Stripe Hog have shared a timely and productive relationship.
In 2007, the NES Traffic Safety Division was purchased by a private equity firm and renamed RoadSafe Traffic Systems. One of the managers who remained with the company throughout the transition was Mark Long, the Midwest district manager for RoadSafe. In a recent telephone interview with Long, he provided the following insight into the NES/RoadSafe and Stripe Hog experience.
The Stripe Hog was not the first time NES had experimented with water blasting for road-marking removal. However, their previous experiences had been less than impressive. Most notably, all of the other systems had not included vacuum recovery and only complicated the work of removal rather then enhance and expedite it. The highway engineers were less then impressed and NES was forced to look at other options. According to Long, “right out of the chute” the Stripe Hog performed as acclaimed and their success with the first unit led RoadSafe to recently purchase a second one. Long went on to state that his crews are even more impressed with the latest version of the Stripe Hog. They appreciate the fact that Waterblasting Technologies does not simply offer a machine and say, “Here is what we build, take it or leave it.” However, their commitment to innovation has led to a new generation of units whose operation is superior to the precious models.
On the Illinois Tollway, the continuing expansion and rebuilding has provided a lot of work for the Stripe Hog. From the Wisconsin line to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the widening of the tollway, lane changes, new exits and new toll plazas have required a lot of pavement-marking removal on new asphalt. Waterblasting has quickly become the only accepted form of removal.
Since the Illinois Department of Transportation has been slow to specify water blasting on its own highways, the tollway has proven to be the ideal setting for introducing successfully the Stripe Hog way of removing lines.
In conclusion, Long stated that highway engineers are taking notice and there are signs that a change is in the air. And when that change does come, RoadSafe will be well-positioned and ready to meet the need with their Stripe Hog units .