Route 66 Welcome Center to Test Solar-Panel Sidewalks
Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has announced plans to install solar panels made of recycled glass at a rest stop alongside the iconic Route 66 as part of the department’s Road to Tomorrow Initiative.
Laurel McKean, an assistant engineer for MoDOT, says the department will be testing an environmentally friendly way to keep snow and ice off the sidewalks.
“Usually, any time that we build a roadway or a sidewalk it’s usually your typical asphalt or concrete,” she states. “These are actually tempered glass-topped panels that essentially allow the sun to come through, produce power to run the panels themselves.”
Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup, worked with the Department of Transportation to develop the panels.
McKean says it’s an innovative way to save electricity and cut down on the fumes generated by gas-powered snow blowers and plows.
“If we were to install these on a road or sidewalk on anywhere, it creates heat so you don’t have to use chemicals or ice melt or anything to remove snow and ice off them – and being able to use recycled products and not have to maybe use the asphalt that has chemicals and stuff in it,” she points out.
McKean says it’s nice to be able to take the history of Route 66 and use it to promote the future.
“We can help them move towards actually putting it in a place where cars and trucks are going to travel on, and seeing how much we can expand it,” she states. “You know, putting it on an actual roadway is still a little bit, you know, down the road but seeing how we can help them progress and really test its viability.”
The Solar Roadways program is one of several of MoDOT’s pilot projects to promote transportation technology in the state.
MoDOT also is working on smart pavement, smart traffic control and truck platooning, which connects commercial trucks via wireless technology, allowing the trucks to follow at a closer distance to get better fuel mileage and for safety reasons.