Painting city streets white may seem like a strange project. After all, they aren’t going to remain pristine for long once people start driving over them. However, there is a purpose behind it, as it has the potential to make the city a cooler place to be. But it also comes along with a hefty price tag, $40,000 per mile.
Los Angeles has begun covering some of the city’s streets with a white seal coat, produced by a company called GuardTop, according to a report by Business Insider.
The seal is sprayed by trucks onto the roadway, and teams of city workers then use squeegees to distribute the paint across the entire road surface.
The purpose of the project is to cool down the roads. Typically, dark or black asphalt can absorb between 80 and 95 percent of the sun’s rays. This can lead LA streets to reach a temperature of up to 150 degrees. Not only can this be painful to the touch, but it also radiates heat throughout the area.
Streets covered in the light-colored coatings reflect more of the sun’s rays than darker colored asphalt. On average, they remain 10 to 15 degrees cooler than their uncoated counterparts.
By keeping the streets cooler, less heat is reflected back at the buildings along the road. This could reduce air-conditioning costs and may reduce the impact of climate change.
Additionally, it may reduce the odds of a heatwave turning deadly, as even a handful of degrees can make a difference.
Adding the paint isn’t cheap, as it costs about $40,000 per mile. But, the coating used in LA is said to last for seven years, so it isn’t a process that would have to be repeated too often.
And the benefits could be substantial, making it easy to see why the city is exploring the option.