ODOT Recognizes Historic Transportation
Innovation in Southeast Ohio
Photo depicts first-ever edge line machine invented by John White, Sr.
MARIETTA – (Wednesday, August 6, 2014) – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 10 held a ceremony today to recognize former ODOT employee John Edward White, Sr. for his invention of the first-ever edge line machine in 1956.
“Today we not only recognize Mr. White’s contribution to the world of transportations safety, but acknowledge his pioneering spirit which continues on today in ODOT District 10,” said ODOT District 10 Deputy Director Steve Williams, P.E.
Before Mr. White’s invention, only a centerline pavement marking was consistently used to separate traffic on two lane roads. In District 10, all state, U.S. route and interstate highways have edge lines – which is nearly 4,000 lane miles across southeast Ohio.
In honor of this historical innovation to highway safety, a display created by John’s son, David White, will travel around the state making stops at various rest areas. The display will stay at the Washington County Interstate 77 northbound rest area until October.
And the story goes like this…
In 1956, Mr. White and his family were driving along State Route 60 on their way to visit relatives in Detroit, Michigan. During his trip, they encountered heavy fog, making it nearly impossible to navigate the road. Mr. White had to drive with his head out the driver side window using the centerline as a guide. It was during this drive that Mr. White devised the edge line concept. Upon returning from vacation, Mr. White and another ODOT District 10 employee, James Science, used a paint spraying machine to demonstrate his idea. The first edge line was placed on what is now SR 550 just south of Marietta, Ohio. During the winter of 1956, Mr. White eventually took his concept of the edge line and built the first-ever edge line machine using the body of a Crosley car. This machine was used in conjunction with the District 10 centerline truck to efficiently paint the centerline and edge line simultaneously.
Following 1957, other states began to add an edge line to two lane rural roads and eventually modern four lane highways. In 1961, the American Association of Highway Officials (AAHO) released their updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) illustrating and recommending the use of the edge line. Prior to this update, no other MUTCD included the edge line.
John Edward White retired April 28, 1979 after 33 years of service at ODOT. Mr. White passed away on Halloween night in 1980