Route 66 Hi-way Makes Environmental History

Known to be one of the first official hi-ways in the US, Route 66 starts in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica California totaling 2,500 miles. In the 1930’s those traveling West often used this hi way.  That hi way is about to become more than just a hi-way.

Idaho Startup Solar Hiways will make history by installing solar panels on the road surface in order to generate solar energy. It is estimated that if all the roads, pathways, and other walking surfaces in the United States were covered in these solar panels, there would be three times more energy available than needed. The environmental and economic benefits of this are immense creating less pollution and lowering energy costs drastically.  Hi way 66 will be the first hi way to have these solar panels installed.

Although the initial phase of the project is small targeting the walkway around the hi-way around the welcome enter in Conway, Missouri, it is expected to extend to the hi-way itself. Founders of Solar Roadway Julie and Scott Brusaw explain that these solar panels produce clean energy and can even be programed to act as roadway signs such as animal crossing alerts. In additional, during the winter, they can be heated up to remove the need for snow removal on the roads.


As with any other technology, there are a few drawbacks. For one, the installation of the solar panels would be more expensive than regular asphalt roads. In additional, although the panels are rough, they would easily wear requiring constant replacement. Another concern is the safety of driving on glass panels in extreme weather. The company has since cut installation costs and increased energy produced per panel to 25%. Concerning the cost for installation and replacement, the company calculates that the panels would be cost effective over time being able to “pay for themselves”.

The question as to how long it would take before citizens would get returns on their investment isn’t sure until the panels are actually installed on the walkways and roadways. Although the idea seems risky, if they work as they are expected to, energy would become cheaper and more important cleaner.

Solar roadway has partnered with the Missouri Department of transportation to launch the project on Route 66. The governor Jay Nixon expressed appreciation to the Missouri Department of Transportation for being open to new technologies that could have an impact on the country’s future.