For the past several weeks, motorists driving through Sacramento  have seen many phases of construction on US 50 highway. This project is known as “Fix 50” and has already completed two phases on the Eastbound highway, and has completed one phase on the Westbound highway. These roadways were constructed decades ago, and their  heavy use has caused the roadways to crack and crumble. The last time the roadbed was managed was in 1968. In order to enhance safety and reduce maintenance costs, the road must be fixed.

On the Fix 50 Project webpage, there is a brief explanation of the project’s aspects. This includes:

  • Creating a new, 4 inch concrete deck, to place on top of the previous deck.
  • Repairing the cracks on the concrete.
  • Adding steel column support to give the roadway protection from earthquakes.

The Fix 50 project ensures the highway a new lifespan of 20+ years, and a reduction of maintenance cost for the future. It promises better roads, railings, energy-efficient lighting, and safety. The cost of the entire project is estimated to be $40,500,000.

Recently, a new and revolutionary invention has dominated the news and social media. This invention is known as the “Solar Roadways”project.

Solar Roadways are made of individual “Solar Road Panels” which give roads a dual purpose. Instead of the use of concrete on our roads that serves no purpose besides travel, these solar panel roadways absorb the sunlight and transform it into energy to power our homes and cities. Solar Roadways also have many other benefits from pollution control to national security.

The Solar Roadways Parking Lot Prototype, with Julie and Scott Brusaw, the proprietors of Solar Roadways.

Solar Roadways is currently going through production and has raised over 1.5 million dollars, well over their goal of 1 million, with their indiegogo campaign. The campaign started on April 21st and ends on June 20th.

The current amount of money raised so far? 1.9 Million dollars.

All generated by public support and donations.

In theory, what if we used Solar Roadways on our Fix 50 project instead of traditional concrete?

It is estimated that each prototype 12×12 inch panel would cost under $10,ooo to produce. (This is only the prototype cost, not the mass production cost.)

So let’s do the math:

On the Fix 50 webpage, they state that the section of freeway is approximately 2,530 feet long.

So if we calculated the length of the road, 2,350 feet, and multiplied it by 10,000 for each 12 inch panel, we can calculate the theoretical cost of the “Solar Fix 50 Roadway”.

2,350/$10,000=$23,500,000 

Times that by the width of the lane, 12 feet, and we get:

($23,500,000)(12) = $282,000,000 Per Lane

 But that’s not it. There are six lanes on the roadway, so we must times that by six:

($282,000,000) (6) = $1,692,000,000 Per Side

 We also must add the price of the shoulder lanes.

($23,500,000)(10) x 2 (cost of length x 10 feet (shoulder) x 2 shoulders) = $470,000,000

 

Therefore, the cost to change Fix 50 into a Solar Roadway would theoretically cost: $2,162,000,000 per side, or $4,324,000,000 total.

 This means that the Solar Roadway project would approximately be $4,283,500,000 more than the cost of the traditional project with concrete. The Solar Roadway project is 105.76 times the cost of the current Fix 50 project.

 In conclusion, the theoretical cost of the roadway equals 4.324 Billion dollars.

In the end, the question we all face is:

Does the tangible price of Solar Roadways matter?

 Solar Roadways generate many beneficial aspects for our commuting lives, rather than the traditional use of concrete.  Here are a few benefits of Solar Roadways taken from the Solar Roadways website:

  • Solar roadway panels can heat themselves up in order to remove ice and snow buildup on roads, possibly saving many lives from sliding and collisions.
  • Solar Roadways have the capability to track and monitor trucks and cars with hazardous material, all in real-time. This may possibly help our National Security in terms of tracking down terrorist and potential security breaks.
  • Solar roadway panels can also be programmed to illuminate roads at night, making it easier to see the boundaries of the road. This may reduce the rate of night-time accidents.
  • By replacing electric energy with solar energy, Solar Roadways have the capability to help clean up the environment by reducing the production of CO2 for electric energy.
  • Solar roadway panels are made up of recycled material.
  • Solar Roadways could produce over three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States.

So disregard the money. Money is something that comes and goes and is ultimately a material object. The real question we face is:

How much would it cost us environmentally and socially if we don’t apply the Solar Roadway Panels today?

For more information on Solar Roadways, you can click here.