Smart Pavement: KC company using Lenexa road to innovate street tech

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LENEXA, Kan. — Imagine electric car chargers implanted in the street. Kansas City company Inte is teaming up with a metro city to make this a reality.

It’s called Smart Pavement, and Renner Road will be the guinea pig. They plan to install blocks of pavement in five different intersections along with road. It’s what’s they’re putting inside the pavement that has many excited.

“It’s like big Lego blocks for roadways,’ Tim Sylvester, Integrated Roadways founder, said. “And then inside we put sensors and communication tech and what we call expansion ports, so you can add new technology in the future time.”

Video from Integrated Roadways out of Kansas City shows how they make these blocks of roadway. The material used is sturdy, expected to last 35-to-50 years, which is much longer than asphalt.

“What we basically do is build the road as sections in a factory and then deliver them to the site, install them,” Sylvester said. “When it’s done, it’s totally invisible. You’d never notice that it’s there.”

The sensors and ports inside the concrete will allow Lenexa officials to gather a bunch of information right away, like how many cars drive over that road each day along with their speed and the type of vehicles. The city can then use that information to help businesses grow.

They also see a future where new tech can be easily installed in the road. Instead of tearing it up and repaving it, they can simply lift the block and put in the new devices. They dream of adding sensors that will help keep driverless cars on the roads, or tech that will keep electric cars fully charged.

“The future technology is in positioning Lenexa to be that leader,” Lenexa Deputy City Manager Todd Pelham said. “We really get excited about autonomous vehicles and also the electrification of charging electric vehicles as they go along the street.”

The total cost of this pilot project is $15 million dollars, paid for by private investors and a state grant. Lenexa officials expect leaders from all over the country to come here once it’s installed to see the capabilities of these smart roads and decide if they want to take it to their cities as well.

“What we’re really doing here is improving the road network for the next generation of cities, of vehicles, devices, services and everything else,” Pelham said.

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