Why Not Solarized Plastic Highways?

Posted: January 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

4387.55a57883981dcA recent story in our local paper reported on the environmental and safety problems posed by our current method of de-icing highways. Our public works director has come up with innovative ways to lower the danger, but the costs and pollution problems are still mounting. The solution, as I see it, won’t be found within the scope of conventional methods, but rather by looking outside the box.

Currently, America’s road systems are constructed using bitumen asphalt products that are reliant upon the fossil fuel industry. De-icing technology for those roads are confined to the use of sodium or calcium chloride and sand. Yet, the same fossil fuel industry has been producing byproducts – plastics – for years that we also struggle to dispose of. Europeans have struck upon an answer that should be obvious to all of us, but isn’t considered because it’s not within our conventional scope – solarized plastic.

I suggested this at a Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee meeting of the Keene City Council last year, but was met by blank stares suggesting that I had three heads. Like when Mr. Robinson said “plastics” to young Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate.”

“There are no sources of this material or technology,” said the public works director.

Not among the conventional industry vendors maybe, but they are all invested in the fossil fuel approach and wouldn’t make money suggesting other solutions.

Municipal leaders here must be authorized to go outside the conventional marketplace for solutions, just as European governmental bodies have done.

We operate a recycling center, as do many towns and cities around us, that produces thousands of tons of recyclable plastics. Rather than sell these raw materials to companies who manufacture ski jackets and deck planking, maybe we could seek out a company to produce the same solarized plastic highway sections produced in France. And maybe we could persuade them to produce them in Keene. Maybe on the Kingsbury property.

Having three heads may not be liability after all?

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