Imagine roads that maintain themselves, free of needed repainting or repaving and with added features such as heating. Now imagine none of these features require energy input from the grid. These roads would power themselves.

Scott and Julie Brusaw have a plan for solar-powered LED roadways. The idea has been met by much skepticism, but with added funding in 2009 and 2011 approaching $1 million, prototypes are currently being tested to see if solar might offer some unique solutions to road maintenance and management. The most significant barrier to implementation is testing to ensure the roads, which resemble a thick plastic layer of honeycomb, would be safe for constant vehicular traffic and added outdoor elements roads are made to withstand. Solar Roadways also believes application would be feasible on a smaller scale such as for pedestrian walkways. This presents another safety concern in the form of traction for pedestrian traffic.

So far, testing the feasibility of the roadways has been on the smaller scale in the form of parking lot projects. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken an interest in the project and awaits tests for the application of Solar Roadways on a grander scale. Should the DOT approve the project for use on public roads, the possibilities are as endless as America’s highways.

Read the full story from New Geography here.