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Road Systems

This tag is associated with 9 posts

The Solar Roadway

Our dependence on automobiles and the miles of asphalt required for them is considered by many to be one of the greatest problems with our current way of life, but what if these roads could be changed to be part of our green future?

The Department of Transportation has awarded $100,000 to Solar Roadways to build a 12′ by 12′ prototype road section to test their proposals for a solar highway. The idea behind the solar roadway is that the miles and miles of roadways would be able to harvest energy from the sun. With embedded LEDs that will light up for the centre lane and also flash messages to motorists regarding hazards or accidents up ahead.

Solar Roadways creator Scott Brushaw suggests that if every inch of America’s 25,000 miles of roadway infrastructure then the system would generate three times as much energy as the country consumed in 2006. The roadways would replace power lines and the energy would flow straight from the streets into our homes. Embedded heating elements would keep the roads clear of snow and ice, and eliminate the need for snow clearing services.

The Solar Roadways website has a lot of information and answers a number of questions about the uses and impacts of the technology. I suggest checking them out.

From Solar Roadways,


When multiple Solar Road Panels™ are interconnected, the intelligent Solar Roadway™ is formed. These panels replace current driveways, parking lots, and all road systems, be they interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets, residential streets, or even plain dirt or gravel country roads. Panels can also be used in amusement parks, raceways, bike paths, parking garage rooftops, remote military locations, etc. Any home or business connected to the Solar Roadway™ (via a Solar Road Panel™ driveway or parking lot) receives the power and data signals that the Solar Roadway™ provides. The Solar Roadway™ becomes an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized (secure) power grid.

Road Surface Layer – translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide great traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells. It is capable of handling today’s heaviest loads under the worst of conditions. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer beneath it.

Electronics Layer – Contains a large array of cells, the bulk of which will contain solar collecting cells with LEDs for “painting” the road surface. These cells also contain the “Super” or “Ultra” caps that store the sun’s energy for later use. Since each Solar Road Panel™ manages its own electricity generation, storage, and distribution, they can heat themselves in northern climates to eliminate snow and ice accumulation. No more snow/ice removal and no more school/business closings due to inclement weather. The on-board microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a communications device every 12 feet, the Solar Roadway™ is an intelligent highway system.

Base Plate Layer – While the electronics layer collects and stores the energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes power (collected from the electronics layer) and data signals (phone, TV, internet, etc.) “downline” to all homes and businesses connected to the Solar Roadway™. The power and data signals are passed through each of the four sides of the base plate layer. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer above it.

NVS: Driving with the Jones

Produced by Squint Opera in collaboration with Nicola Koller, this short film was commissioned for the Architecture Biennale in Venice.
The film is part of Nicola’s research project ‘Madness in Suburbia’.

Brooklyn Bridge: Hellboy 2’s Version vs. the Weird Truth

The Brooklyn Bridge

There is a great article over at National Geographic that compares the spaces shown in and around the Brooklyn Bridge in Hellboy 2 with the real life spaces that the Bridge actually contains.

In Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, an apocalyptic good-versus-evil battle toggles between antiquity and modernity, myth and reality, New York and New Jersey. So what else is new?

For starters, the “Troll Market,” a bazaar of misshapen, magical peddlers hidden beneath the Brooklyn Bridge’s east tower. That’s where a particularly important scene takes place in the movie—and where Pop Omnivore’s geographic and historical interest was piqued.

Of course, there are no trolls under the iconic span, which was built 125 years ago by John Augustus Roebling and his son Washington and, at 6,000 feet, is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. If there were such a marketplace, its inhabitants would surely be grumpy: 150,000 people traverse the East River each day via the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan bridge.

But it turns out that the span does have its share of surprises. Ted Timbers, spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation, told us about a curious find a couple of years ago. During a routine structural inspection, some NYCDOT workers came across a secret chamber that looked a lot like a Cold War bunker. Inside was an honest-to-goodness survival cache: water drums, boxes of medical supplies (including tourniquet bandages and IV drips), a pile of blankets marked “For Use Only After Enemy Attack,” and some 350,000 high-calorie crackers in sealed tins. Most of the items were dated either 1957 or 1962.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Rain City Bikes

Not your average bike

Not your average bike

The thing with bikes and the city is that it can be hard to haul things. Just because you live in town and things are all pretty close to each other, it doesn’t make having to carry ten bags, boxes, or some other packet of things home easy. But a company called Rain City Bikes in Vancouver has a solution to that: The Bakfiet or box bike. This puppy is a cargo bike designed to help you move whatever you need to move be it your kids, bricks, or your groceries. The bike has a low stand over and its center of gravity is very low to the ground. With a better ride than a trike and easier pedaling, they are great for lugging anything you need to around.

It Even Comes with a Fancy Cover!

It Even Comes with a Fancy Cover!

The bike

  • alluminum alloy rims and spokes
  • front and rear roller breaks
  • a heavy duty rear parcel rack
  • built in Axa lock
  • internally geared hubs
  • a springy gel seat
  • a front dynamo powered light
  • rear read lights
  • a removable box with bench and harnesses
  • a cargo cover
  • a load capacty of 70kg in the front
  • 30 kg capcity in the back

This bike is the answer to the question of how to haul all your stuff around town–in the summer at least, and just look how much fun it is!

workbike with flowers

The Bicycle Vault

New Urbanists, bike enthusiasts and pedestrians would love to see more and more of us switching from private vehicle use to mass transportation and bicycles. In order to cut down on the pollution caused by cars and eliminate so many of the parking lot wastelands that are a part of our cities. One of the problems that can come with this is where do we put all these bikes. Anyone who has walked around a major Japanese city, or even Amsterdam can understand that these multitudes of bicycles can be a bit of a jumble to wade through. Well leave it to the Japanese to come up with a high tech way of dealing with them.

Meet the computerised bicycle storage vault, you drop off your bike at the computer valet station and it whisks your bike away until you come back to retrieve it. While definitely not practical for North America where we have way more space, it could be the shape of things to come.

東京都江戸川区葛西駅前にできた自転車地下駐輪場です。収容台数 は9,400台、総工費は70億円です。

The Toronto Waterfront Viaduct

Viaduct Concept

Sweeping elevated highways and expressways are reminders of the modernist era with its dreams of speedy transportation from area to area on elevated right of ways. Le Corbusier and the modern movement glorified automobiles and gave them their own monumental structures upon which to travel so as not to be encumbered by the minor cross streets and other obstacles below. The modernist movement and Le Corbusier himself have in the years following been criticized for their legacy and these elevated freeways and expressways have gone from being glorious examples of the industrial prowess of man to giant eye sores and physiological barriers pretty much universally disliked by all and expensive to maintain. Toronto and Montreal both have extensive elevated systems and both are experiencing major structural issues. In Toronto there has been much debate over what to do about the Gardiner Expressway as many feel that it is a barrier to the successful redevelopment of the waterfront and no longer able to meet the demands placed upon it in terms of carrying capacity. There have been many proposals to deal with the issue of the Gardiner, however, due to both the prohibitive price tags and the question of what to do with existing traffic while these proposals are carried out has stalled the process.

The Viaduct

Jose Gutierrez of Seneca College has come up with a new idea the Toronto Waterfront Viaduct, first the idea of a 6km long cable stayed bridge seems ridiculous, however on further consideration it has some advantages that outweigh other proposals; its aesthetic appeal, the freeing up of land currently occupied by the expressway, and lack of interference with the existing expressway while under construction. Its 1.65 billion dollar price tag is also comparable with other proposals for the expressway.

“I thought about utilizing the existing Lakeshore rail corridor, and merging the Expressway and the rail tracks into one major transportation corridor,” Gutierrez says. “The cable-stayed idea came from the need to provide as few obstacles as possible for train movement and street level traffic (either pedestrian, bicycles, transit or car traffic).” source

Inside Concept

Gutierrez’s proposal has simply the basic plan for the elevated viaduct and also add ons that could be used to either increase the diversity of uses for the viaduct or even offset the cost of building it.Its an exciting proposal and it has the potential to integrate well into other projects such as the union station redevelopment and assorted waterfront projects.

Click here to see his proposal in depth.


The EcoTaxi

The EcoTaxi

Gas, Gas, Gas, its all over the news and anyone with a car has been feeling the crunch. With gas at $1.50 a liter and higher in many cities the stampede for hybrid vehicles is on.

The transportation industry is especially susceptible to price fluctuations and taxi drivers have been feeling the crunch as more and more of their income has been eaten by increases in the price of fuel. Here in the city of Montreal the Mayor has just announced that it was committed to increasing the number of hybrid vehicles on city streets. While an expression of commitment is a lot less impressive then other cities who have set quantifiable targets it is a step in the right direction. Victoria is furthest ahead in Canada with Hybrids making up 36% of its fleet, followed by Winnipeg at 26% while Vancouver is at 10%. Currently Canada’s second largest city only has 4. New York City has legislated that all taxis must be electric or hybrid by 2012.

There are some who would like to see that change Philippe St. Jean is the mastermind behind the Ecotaxi Initiative.

The ultimate goal of the Ecotaxi venture is to fast-track the adoption of “green” vehicles in the Montreal taxi industry that offer improved energy efficiency while reducing urban pollution levels. Ecotaxi will operate a call center dispatching a fleet composed exclusively of hybrid, “plug-in” hybrid and electric taxis. The Ecotaxi project will analyze the performance of each vehicle technology, as well as repair and operating costs. Taxi owners will have access to a detailed study of each technology, as well as a technical support team to help them with the purchase, certification and preparation of hybrid, “plug-in” hybrid and electric taxis.

As part of its initiative, Ecotaxi will install several electric vehicle rapid-charging terminals around the City of Montreal. In order to promote the purchase of “plug-in” hybrid and electric vehicles, access to these terminals will be free-of-charge and open to the public. The rapid-charging infrastructure will provide “plug-in’ hybrid and electric vehicle owners the ability to fully charge their vehicles in as little as fifteen minutes.In an effort to further promote “green” transportation alternatives, Ecotaxi will provide each subscribing taxi with a bicycle rack to ensure the accessibility of the taxi service to bicycle users.

To learn more about the Eco Taxi Initiative click here.

Stackable Cars

Stackable Car Concept

The smarty pants over at MIT have come up with a design for a stackable city car ideal for large scale car sharing programs, or integration into a city’s transportation system. The City Car is a stackable two person electric vehicle that they hope will revolutionize the way that urbanites conceptualize (and use) personal transportation.
Take a look at the Inhabit Article here.

The Technology Review Article here.

France's Big Bridge

The Millau bridge in France currently holds the record for the worlds tallest road bridge. At a towering 343m (1,125ft) at its highest point, it is definitely not for anyone afraid of heights. The bridge crosses the River Tarn and the valley of the same name and has been termed by some as “one of the most breathtaking ever built.” source The bridge was designed by architect Norman Foster who wanted it to have the “delicacy of a butterfly”… “A work of man must fuse with nature. The pillars had to look almost organic, like they had grown from the earth,” the world-renowned British architect said in an interview with regional daily newspaper Midi Libre.

The Bridge was constructed by French construction group Eiffage – that built the Eiffel Tower. The bridge was built to relieve the traffic bottlenecks that frequently occurred in the french town of Millau by connecting the two portions of route A-75 which is a major artery to the Mediterranean.

The bridge is also impressive for its embedded electronics, the structure contains 30 km of high-current electrical cables, 10 km of low-current cables, 20 km of fibre optics, and a total of 357 telephone jacks to allow maintenance workers to speak with the command centre and with each other while doing work on the bridge.

The structure also has some is state of the art safety infrastructure. There are sensors embedded in the pylons, deck, masts and stays. These sensors can detect the smallest movements in the structure and keep track of the both the structures resistance to, and degradation that occurs naturally overtime. The sensors are able to detect movements down to the micrometre, and are designed to take as many as 100 readings a second. In high wind conditions the structure is designed to constantly monitor the viaduct and its reactions. There are also, two piezoelectric sensors intended to gather traffic data, such as: the weight of vehicles, average speed, and density of traffic flow. The system is intelligent enough to categorise its traffic into fourteen different types of vehicle.The construction of the bridge was done with a number of segments prefabricated. The pylons were poured and constructed, and a couple of intermediate temporary pylons were also put up, then prefabricated deck pieces were pulled across the piers using satellite-guided hydraulic rams that moved the deck 600 mm every 4 minutes. The masts were then pushed out over the new deck, that was erected on top of the pylons, connected to the deck and the temporary pylons removed.

The construction of the bridge faced some opposition from international and local groups; including the WWF, France Nature Environment, the national federation of motorway users, and Environmental Action. Opponents argued that the bridge would never break even, even with the toll, they also argued that the bypass would negatively affect the town and its economy, and that the toll would cause motorists to bypass the bridge.

Some of these predictions have turned out to be very untrue, the town has approved more then 100 building permits in the 18 months following the viaduct’s construction, three of which are for new hotels, and the town has experienced and economic boom termed “the viaduct effect” and two other neighbouring industrial zones have also seen economic expansion that is attributed to the bridge and reduction in travel times.

Either way this Viaduct is a truly impressive structure and the pictures confirm it.