PlasticRoad: Could These Plastic, Pre-Fab Roads Be The Future Of Highways?

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Plastic is already a ubiquitous element in our daily lives, finding its way into everything from our gadgets to our furniture to…well… everything. It might even become more so with PlasticRoad, a new type of road surface that’s being touted as a more sustainable alternative to asphalt.

Developed by construction firm VolkerWessels, it consists of prefabricated plastic structures that are laid on top of sand, making installing a new road a considerably simpler process than laying asphalt or using other road materials. That means, a huge amount of time shaved on traditional road construction timetables, making it a more economical option for cities the world over.

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Each unit of PlasticRoad consists of board-like panels that are hollow at the center, allowing it to be used as instant pathways for cables and pipes. An entire stretch of road can be installed as a single piece, as well as broken up in numerous pieces for easier transport, giving folks a flexibility not available in existing road solutions. Not only can it withstand the typical abuse roads experience from vehicles, it’s also weather-resistant and corrosion-proof, making it less-likely to require as much maintenance. While plastic does melt, its creators claim their roads will also perform better than asphalt at withstanding extreme temperatures, as it can handle anywhere from low as -40° C to as high as 80° C.

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While PlasticRoad is still at the early stages (they’re still working out how to keep it from being very slippery in wet weather, for instance), VolkerWessels is hoping to lay down their first thoroughfare within the next three years. The Dutch city of Rotterdam has, reportedly, expressed interest at running a trial, so we might actually see them try this crazy thing sooner than later.

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