U.S. Route 66 is more of a legend than an actual highway these days. Route 66 was decommissioned as an official thoroughfare decades ago, giving way to more modern interstate transit ways. Portions of Route 66 still remain, however. And there are plenty of guides that can help you drive an approximation of the old route from Chicago to Los Angeles, if you want to indulge in some nostalgic Americana.
In its heyday, Route 66 was emblematic of the mid-20th century American dream. Cars were cool. Gas was cheap. The open road beckoned with a sense of adventure. Much has changed since those times. Cars are seen now more as functional devices than modern works of art. Even when prices are down, most drivers still groan over the cost to fill up a gas tank. Conveniences like GPS and mobile data have taken some of the adventurous edge out of a long road trip.
Change is inevitable. Yet, it seems somehow fitting that Route 66, an icon of 20th century fossil fuel consumption, will become the first road in America to be partially redone with special solar-power generating pavers:
The street pavers were developed by Solar Roadways, a company created by inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw which raised more than $2.2 million in crowdfunding in 2014 to bring their technology to market. The Brusaws claim that replacing all of America’s roads and parking lots with their solar pavers would generate more than three times the country’s electricity consumption in 2009.
It seems like a no-brainer. Why not replace all of the world’s roads and parking lots with solar-generating pavers? It’s all open space that’s just sitting there, waiting for a solar upgrade. The state of Missouri’s transportation department will be spearheading the installation of these photovoltaic pavers on Route 66. They’re hoping to have them in place by the end of the year.