They said it wouldn’t last, but they were wrong. The Pac Man that had been spray-painted onto the pavement of Highway 55 in Buffalo, Minnesota, was fading, but he recently received a fresher, thicker coat of paint, seemingly making him a more permanent fixture on the road.

For the uninitiated, during the summer of 2006, the Minnesota Department of Transportation embarked on a $15,000 project to paint large white dots 225 feet apart in the middle of the lanes on a section of Highway 55 that has a high accident rate. The theory is that if every driver keeps two of these “Distance Dots” between themselves and the driver in front of them, there would be fewer incidents of tailgating and accidents, as this is how much distance you’re supposed to leave anyway. The project has apparently met with success in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Last December, on one wintery Minnesota night, someone braved the elements and the traffic to spray-paint a giant Pac Man onto the road, strategically placed so that it appeared he was simply gobbling up the long line of white dots stretching down the highway. Officials in the county had hoped that the addition would wash away with the winter snows, and indicated as such in a Star Tribune Article that is no longer in the archives. However, they were stymied on repeated occasions, as whenever Pac Man’s shape started to fade, inevitably it seemed some unseen hand would re-apply yellow paint in the middle of the night.

This spring, however, there has been a dramatic change.

Previously, the yellow paint had been opaque and was not quite thick enough to block out the blackness of the pavement beneath it. Now it appears that whomever is painting the popular video game character has gotten serious about his or her craft, as quite recently a fresh coat of bright yellow paint has been applied, far thicker and more defined than before. It would take some cash, serious scrubbing, and lane closures to remove Pac Man from the pavement at this point, in fact.

The painting adds a bit of amusement to that stretch of Highway 55, and brings attention to the tailgating project. The project here is still young, so there were no statistics for Minnesota’s project available at the time of this article, but according to one Pennsylvania statistic the program resulted in a 65% drop in tailgating accidents in those areas from November 2000 to March 2001 compared to the previous year.

This article can also be found at Sense & Serendipity.

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