Plastic roads may put asphalt to shame

VolkerWessels' plastic road

The days of putting up with crumbling asphalt streets might just come to an end. Construction company Volker Wessels has revealed plans for recycled plastic roads that are both more sustainable and more practical than old-fashioned blacktop. Besides reusing material, they’d last about three times longer and survive greater temperature ranges (between -40F and 176F) — despite their fragile look, they’re less likely to crack under the strain of vehicles or the weather. You can pre-assemble them to lay them down faster, too, and their hollow structure is handy for cabling and pipes.

This is just a concept at the moment, but VolkerWessels fully intends to test it and make sure that it holds up in the real world. That’s not idle talk, either. The Dutch city of Rotterdam is interested in trying out these plastic surfaces in its “street lab,” and the company hopes to have an honest-to-goodness route in operation within three years. If the idea still sounds outlandish, look at it this way: it’s likely the closest you’ll ever get to driving a Hot Wheels track in real life.

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