TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – Potholes and asphalt roads could eventually be relics of the past if transportation officials are able to successfully replace them with solar roads and lanes.
Paul Steinman, FDOT District 7 Secretary, says a small team is researching the feasibility of solar roads in the Tampa Bay area. The panels are made of glass and can generate energy that could charge electric vehicles as they drive.
The technology could also help ease congestion by creating additional lanes. “You could actually increase the number of lanes because the lane markings would be using lights, rather than paint,” said Steinman. “You could actually flip the roadways, and you could provide more inbound traffic, for example. Then at night, you could increase the number of outbound lanes, if you have distinct traffic flows."
There are no cost estimates and no timeline for implementation, although Steinman said FDOT will spend two years in the research phase before considering launching a pilot solar road project.
“Right now, it’s [about] getting something that’s durable enough to survive the beating of the traffic…and that’s really what’s holding up the technology at this point is that we don’t want to put anything out there that wouldn’t be durable,” he said. “Projects are just getting so expensive, we just can’t help build congestion, we’ve got to start using technology to be smarter about how we’re moving this forward as our area continues to grow.”
Read more about solar roads here.