Route 66 goes Green

Since its creation in 1926, this popular route has definitely seen better days, but after 90 years it will see some great improvements courtesy of Science and Technology.

Route 66, from Chrysler Blog

Route 66, from Chrysler Blog

Route 66 is one of the earliest official federal highways, and although it cannot be driven uninterrupted from end to end (Chicago to Los Angeles) it is about to go down in history as the first highway to go green. And we don’t mean the color, that would look pretty horrible. The highway is getting a makeover that will rip off old pieces of pavement and exchange them for solar panels. Yes, you read that right. Solar panels.

You might remember a viral video from last year where an Idaho start-up was showing the stuff of dreams. Solar panels that you can drive on. And they showed how they took it one step further. It isn’t just panels you can drive on, they’re also smart. The photo-voltaic circuit is covered in tempered glass that has been specifically designed to withstand all required low, impact and traction requirements.

As per their website, they managed to build them in a modular fashion which enables to replace faulty or damaged units as needed without the need to patch up like regular asphalt would require. Although they admit the cost of installation and maintenance are higher than normal, we’re talking about pavement that pays for itself. Yes, it does pay for itself because it produces energy, which is the same as saying it produced revenue. Take that asphalt! Also, they are programmable and can display images to signal traffic, live notify drivers of animal crossings as they happen and best of all, they’re capable of producing heat to prevent ice forming on the road. So not only are they revenue generating but also cost-saving as cities wouldn’t have to spend your tax-payer dollars clearing snow from the road, painting and maintaining road signs.

Solar Roadways has recently signed a contract with the Missouri DOT to start implementing their solar roadway project in a small area surrounding the Highway 66 Welcome Center in Conway, Missouri, but here’s to hoping that if this project succeeds, we will start seeing more and more of this innovative solutions coming our way. I would very much like to see more green projects, like Solar Roadways or Solar Impulse plane, affecting the travel industry for the better and make sure we’re contributing to greenifying it day by day.

Maybe solar runways are next?


Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Good luck on surviving studded winter tires and getting states to enforce weight limits on large trucks.

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    • Where you see problems, I see engineering challenges that can be overcome with the right amount of research and money. Let’s start with sidewalks and parking lots and see how that goes!

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