We wouldn’t bank on any LEGO-based interstates being constructed in the United States any time in the near- or midterm future, but one day, the construction of new roads could be as simple as interlocking broad slabs of reinforced, hollow plastic.
Well, in theory, anyway.
As Car and Driver reports, Dutch construction firm VolkerWessels has floated the idea of someday building plastic highways. The idea has not yet come to fruition – it’s not even ready for testing yet – but if the idea proves feasible, it has the potential to make building and servicing roadways far more simple and cost-effective.
Beside ease, another upside to the idea of the plastic highway is that the material ought to prove far less susceptible to cracks and potholes from freezing water than either asphalt or concrete. Prototype slabs have been designed with hollow cavities, allowing plumbing and wiring routes to pass right through.
Of course, we also see a couple of obstacles. First: what sort of tire traction could be provided by a plastic highway, and how would the road’s friction surface hold-up over time – especially against high-horsepower cars? Second: how much material would be needed to support the heaviest of freight transporters? Third: what’s to prevent a plastic highway from melting due to the constant friction of passing traffic?
We look forward to seeing how VolkerWessels manages to overcome such hurdles, but we anticipate we’ll be waiting for years to come. Until then – and this goes double for Michigan residents – while you traverse the holey swiss cheese slabs that are our roads, keep your eyes peeled, your mind sharp, and brace for impact.