Predicting the retroreflectivity degradation of waterborne paint pavement markings using advanced machine learning techniques

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Waterborne paint is the most common marking material used throughout the United States. Because of budget constraints, most transportation agencies repaint their markings based on a fixed schedule, which is questionable in relation to efficiency and economy. To overcome this problem, state agencies could evaluate the marking performance by utilizing measured retroreflectivity of waterborne paints applied in the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP) or by using retroreflectivity degradation models developed in previous studies. Generally, both options lack accuracy because of the high dimensionality and multi-collinearity of retroreflectivity data. Therefore, the objective of this study was to employ an advanced machine learning algorithm to develop performance prediction models for waterborne paints considering the variables that are believed to affect their performance. To achieve this objective, a total of 17,952 skip and wheel retroreflectivity measurements were collected from 10 test decks included in the NTPEP. Based on these data, two CatBoost models were developed with an acceptable level of accuracy which can predict the skip and wheel retroreflectivity of waterborne paints for up to 3 years using only the initial measured retroreflectivity and the anticipated project conditions over the intended prediction horizon, such as line color, traffic, air temperature, and so forth. These models could be used by transportation agencies throughout the United States to 1) compare between different products and select the best product for a specific project, and 2) determine the expected service life of a specific product based on a specified threshold retroreflectivity to plan for future restriping activities.

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Transportation Research Record

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