Can U.S. Highways Evolve After 60 Years of Stagnation?

Reprinted from Robynne Boyd's story on NRDC.org
Feb 16, 2017 9:45 AM ET
Summary: 

Cars are getting smarter—can’t the road get smarter, too? That’s the question Harriet Langford is trying to answer along an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in western Georgia.

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Cars are getting smarter—can’t the road get smarter, too? That’s the question Harriet Langford is trying to answer along an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in western Georgia. With grassy medians and large metal signage, the interstate looks like any other, but to Langford, the president of a green highway project known as The Ray, it’s a “living laboratory for technologies that can transform the road.”

It’s also the site of the country’s first solar road, unveiled in December 2016. About 5,400 square feet of solar panels sit atop asphalt as they farm sunlight near the Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point, off Exit 1. The installation, which can produce 7,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually, is the result of five years of research culminating in a technology called Wattway. Enclosed within thin layers of protective plastic, the photovoltaic cells help power the Georgia Visitor Information Center.

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Valerie Bennett
The Ray
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