Uh what? You heard correctly, solar powered highway. I cannot stress enough how many creative thinkers and innovative engineers are coming together to accomplish amazing feats around the world. I want to make sure you hear about these positive steps toward a better future.
Zero Deaths. Zero Waste. Zero Carbon. Zero Impact.
That is the mission of The Ray which will cover an 18 mile stretch of Georgia’s I-85 highway corridor near West Point’s Visitor Center. Here are some engineering highlights of The Ray and how they plan to achieve their aforementioned mission taken from their website which you should all DEFINITELY check out!!!-
The Ray is the testing ground for Wattway’s pilot project in the U.S.: a pavement that uses photovoltaic techniques to provide renewable energy in the form of electricity, while allowing for all forms of traffic. The 50 square meter installation will be installed in the fourth quarter of 2016 and is located next to West Point’s Visitor Information Center.
Located along The Ray, the Visitor Information Center in West Point, Georgia is home to the state’s very first solar-powered PV4EV (photovoltaic for electric vehicle) charging station. It’s one giant step toward creating the infrastructure that’s needed to support electric vehicle transportation.
Improperly inflated tires are dangerous and reduce fuel efficiency, but tire inflation and monitoring methods of today are a hassle. Our roll-over WheelRight Tire Pressure Monitoring System, located at Exit 1’s Georgia Visitor Information Center on The Ray, sends drivers a text message with critical information about their tire pressure & tread depth. Simply drive over the monitor to get your text!
One of our largest untapped assets is the land around the interstate, called the right-of-way. We’re maximizing that land use with a farming pilot. Kernza® plants are a breakthrough from traditional annual wheat grasses and have deep 10-foot roots that helps to enrich the soil, retain clean water, and sequester carbon. By growing and harvesting wheat in the right-of-way, we’re creating a new economic opportunity, all while drawing down carbon.
To clean water runoff on The Ray, we’re constructing bioswales, which are shallow drainage ditches filled with vegetation or compost to slow water movements and capture particulate pollutants during rainstorms. Made from plant species native to Georgia, our bioswales will also help beautify our stretch of I-85.
In the coming years, we’ll be adapting The Ray based on recommendations from a comprehensive vulnerability assessment that anticipates the way weather patterns and climate change will impact our geographical area. This research will guide everything we do—from how we transform right-of-way to the materials we use, making The Ray an example for other roadways in the Southeast and the world.
The first of its kind at any GDOT facility, The Ray’s 7,000-square-foot pollinator garden at the Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point not only serves as an important habitat for honeybees, monarch butterflies and other species, but it also adds color and beauty to our stretch of I-85.
Rubber roads first piqued our interest because simply adding recycled tires to an asphalt mixture reduces road noise and increases road durability, extending the life of the pavement by 15 to 20 percent. Scrap tires can also help control public health dangers common to roadways, like tire fires and disease-carrying mosquitoes that breed in pooled rainwater.
In 2018 a new surface road, Tom Hall Parkways, that runs adjacent to The Ray was paved with a a rubberized asphalt mix, a first for Troup County.