The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced plans to install solar road panels on Route 66 as part of a pilot program.
Billed as a high-tech alternative to concrete and asphalt, the hexagon-shaped solar panels will capture the sun's energy and feed some of it back into the electrical grid. More interestingly, the panels are equipped with LED lights which can be used to show lane markings as well as messages such as the speed limit.
Another key advantage of the solar panels is the fact that they have an integrated heating unit to melt snow and ice. This will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining the road as crews won't need to apply salt or chemical during inclement weather.
The first solar panels are expected to be installed at the Historic Route 66 Welcome Center later this year. The Department of Transportation hopes to expand the project and will seek crowd-funding to install additional solar panels. As the leader of the Road to Tomorrow initiative explained “We are going to go out there publicly and on the internet… and ask for money to make our solar roadway pilot project even bigger and better."