Monday, November 10, 2014

Dr. E.D. Botts: WWI Veteran, Public Servant, and Creator of Botts' Dots

Dr. E.D. Botts
Ever heard of Botts’ Dots?  If you’ve ever driven on a freeway in California you’ve seen Dr. Botts’ dots, which are also known as raised pavement markers, buttons or traffic markers that help to guide freeway traffic and remind (bump, bump) motorists that their vehicle is crossing into an adjacent lane.

In 1950 Dr. E.D. Botts joined the Department of Public Works, Division of Highways, (now known as Caltrans) as a Senior Chemical Testing Engineer in the Materials and Research Department in Sacramento. 

Moderate to heavy rainfall or darkness caused the painted white lines on freeways to disappear.  In 1954, Botts developed a type of raised button or dot made of concrete to substitute for the painted white line.    Eventually, it was discovered that dots made of polyester or epoxy-type resin plastic were more durable.  In 1966, “Botts’ Dots” was mandated for Los Angeles area freeways in 1966 – millions were installed. 

Botts was widely known for his work with paints used by the Division of Highways for improved traffic striping and the protection of structural steel.  He also pioneered the use of epoxy resins in binders and adhesives, and received national recognition for his work.

Model shows arrangement of dots with reflectorized pavement markers in 1966.

Botts, born in Missouri in 1893, served in the U.S. Army during World War I, received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.  In 1924 he became chief chemist for American Marine Paint Co. in San Francisco.  From 1928 to 1944 he was a professor of chemistry at San Jose State College (now University).  He was a technical adviser to the Small War Plants Corporation and the U.S. Department of Commerce in Los Angeles.  He also served for two years as a research chemist with the Veterans Hospital in San Fernando Valley.  Botts stayed with the Division of Highways until his retirement on January 1, 1960.  He passed away in 1962.     

Source: California Highway and Public Works, January-February 1960 and Caltrans Headquarters Library