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Downtown Crosswalks Actually Made of Confectionary Sugar

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[Photos via Viewfromaloft]

More proof our city can't handle rain: Twitter reports are surfacing of Downtown crosswalks being washed away by this week's rainstorm. The posts say the water is wiping away the markings that designate where pedestrians are supposed to walk. View From A Loft has pictures of the wash-away at 7th and Broadway.

No, it's probably not the DWP's fault. Martha Stephenson, a transportation engineer for the Department of Transportation tells us the DOT isn't sure exactly what's going on here. Stephenson says the white and yellow markings that cover many city crosswalks, including the one pictured, is covered in treatment called thermoplastic, which doesn't just wash off in the rain. Stephenson suggested vandals may have had a hand in this, but also said the DOT should know more soon.

But Eric Richardson, Blogdowntown's resident Encyclopedia Brown, believes he knows what's going on. The white signage isn't made from thermoplastic, he says. He believes it's just white traffic marking paint. And he tells us that those fake brown bricks at this particular crosswalk don't attach to the paint very well which is why the paint is disappearing in the rain (and also why the DOT no longer uses such bricks at crosswalks).

For more about more what is and what isn't thermoplastic, check out this web site. For example, the crosswalks in Little Tokyo, where the new purple fans are placed, have thermoplastic, according to Richardson.

UPDATE: Reader/resident Curbed fact-checker MapNerd points out we've spelled hermoplastic wrong.

· StormWatch: 7th and Broadway [Viewfromaloft]