Remember the days when you obsessed over the construction of your own intricate Lego worlds, surrounded by towering heaps of pieces as you agonized in creating buildings, roads and a variety of unique structures for your favorite Lego people. And then the joys to be had in their destruction due to roving beasts, unexpected invasions or…Okay, I digress. Well, as it turns out, we children of Lego days past may have proven to be design engineering savants because plastic roads are now on the drawing board as the next trend in transportation. In fact, we might someday end up living in our own Legoland world.
But how can this be possible? Isn’t plastic the most maligned building material of all time, synonymous with cheap, flimsy and inauthentic? The people at the Dutch construction company, VolkerWessels, beg to differ. They are discovering that plastic is three times more durable than asphalt and concrete as a road building material. The company plans to construct their hollow plastic road segments out of recycled plastic bottles that would otherwise make their way into our oceans. They will be installed in prefab pieces onto sand beds in a fraction of the time it takes to build conventional roads.
Are you ready to go to Legoland yet?
Imagine driving on a running track, which is exactly the experience these roads will strive to give you. If all goes as planned, we can all forget about hitting potholes while doing 70 mph and the endless traffic jams that road construction and maintenance create. These roads won’t fall apart and will require very little maintenance. The plastic roads of the future will be quiet, smooth and capable of handling temperatures ranging from 137 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 40 degrees. These roads will also eliminate the carbon emissions that asphalt surfaces produce and have a general cooling effect on the environment.
VolkerWessels thinks it will take three more years of laboratory testing before the roads are put into production.
The next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. Rotterdam is a very innovative city and has embraced the idea. It fits very well within its sustainability policy and it has said it is keen to work on a pilot. ROLF MARS, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision
In the meantime, we can all dream about this coming Legoland utopia and someday tell our grandchildren it was all our idea!