Canada paved its first highway, from Toronto to Hamilton, a century ago. Film footage shows gangs of workers dumping wheelbarrows filled with gravel or cement onto the roadbed, then, on their knees, working elbow to elbow, using trowels to make a smooth and level surface. Google “First Paved Highway 1912” for a two-minute documentary glimpse of this historic event. You can count 20 or 30 workers in a single gang, showing why this kind of shovel-ready work became such a favourite of governments. In the beginning, at any rate, paving roads employed a lot of people.
Canada now has something approaching 900,000 kilometres of paved roads, the United States 6.4 million kilometres – taken together, a vast expanse of heat-absorbing surfaces. Yes, road building has changed. Work crews are smaller, paving machines bigger; and highways are faster and safer than ever. But highways fill essentially the same single, simple function they filled a hundred years ago – roads without bumps.
This could soon change. This year, U.S. inventor Scott Brusaw will build a small prototype of the world’s first solar-powered, electronically controlled, glass-surfaced highway on a parking lot near his lab in the small community of Sagle, Idaho.
The U.S. government will fund the experiment, which will cost a mere $750,000 – less than the cost of paving one kilometre of road.
Source : Globe and Mail : Read the whole story here.