SEATTLE - Road crews around the Northwest know they have precious little time to get their work done during the dry summer months. This year, though, they're not battling rain as much as they are a dry spell for road paint.

A nationwide shortage is idling work crews, frustrating transportation officials and causing safety concerns.

This is the worst I've seen it in my 27 years in the business, says Steve Bateman of Stripe Rite in Sumner. Normally, we're worried about the rain, but right now we're having a hard time just getting going.

The problem stems from a shortage of one of the key ingredients used to make the paint that stripes our streets and highways. One major producer, Dow Chemical, is having production problems, which is causing backlogs in work orders across the country.

Work is starting to stack up. It's terribly frustrating, says Bateman.

Terry Buol of Apply-A-Line in Pacific says he's had a crew of seven workers sitting for more than two weeks while the company waited to get paint.

We just got some paint in on Friday which helps, but it's getting bad everywhere, says Buol.

If the supply lines don't open up soon, some road striping projects in Washington may have to be delayed indefinitely. Fading lines on streets and highways could be a safety concern, especially if they can't be repainted until next year.

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