In August 2000, the Road and Transport Authority applied a blue thermoplastic material to Sydney's roadways to mark the marathon course for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. These samples of powdered and hardened thermoplastic were used to test the road- marking material prior to its application. Specifically, these tests examined durability, friction, retroflection and adherence. Termed the 'blue line', the road mark became a distinctive and ubiquitous symbol of the Sydney Games.
The blue line was applied to Sydney's roadways from 16 to 24 August 2000 to mark the marathon course for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (The Olympic men's marathon was held on 24 September, the women's on 1 October and the Paralympic marathon on 29 October). Starting at North Sydney, it passed through the city and Centennial Park, traversed the City West Link Road and M4 Motorway to finish at Sydney Olympic Stadium. In total, it covered an exact distance of 42.195 kilometres, marking the shortest possible route between each bend. (A marathon runner advised on this course.)
Manufactured from extruded thermoplastic and glass aggregate, the blue line was developed to provide a non-slip and non-reflective surface for marathon runners and motorists alike. In addition, it was designed to sustain heavy ware almost immediately after its application and to retain a fresh appearance throughout the Games. This material differed slightly from the one typically used to mark Sydney roads: it did not include reflective glass beads; and its blue colouring did not comply with the standard specifications of the Road and Transport Authority (RTA).
In conjunction with subcontractors, Zaganite Industries Pty. Ltd, the RTA applied the blue line at night to minimize traffic interruptions. Heated into a molten state, the thermoplastic was extruded onto the dry and cleaned road. Staff at the Traffic Management Centre and on the Harbour Bridge assisted by coordinating lane closures and rephasing traffic signals.
By March 2001, the RTA had received numerous complaints from motorists and cyclists that the line was slippery when wet and distracting when it veered from the kerb. Reluctantly, the RTA removed approximately 3 kilometres of the line from Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Cahill Expressway, the Western Distributor and Anzac Bridge. However, according to RTA tests, the remaining sections would be visible until 2004.