Prototype: Interstate Traveler Project
There are mainstream projects for sustainable development -- things like building material recycling centers, electric bikes, solar powered water heaters -- and then their are projects on the... shall we say "fringe". So, as you read the next few paragraphs, bear in mind that this is more of an exciting idea than a definitely feasible one. With that disclaimer in mind, the Interstate Traveler Concept is the answer to everything from replacing highways, to switching to hydrogen power, to revitalizing the steel industry...Mention "Maglev train" at your run of the mill urban planner's dinner party, and you'd probably get laughed out of the room. High speed train projects in the US have flopped, foundered, and fizzled since the 60's. But now, with oil shortages peaking over the horizon, and a growing interest in a hydrogen economy, The Interstate Travel Company(ITC) thinks that the time is right for a fresh attempt.
What makes ITC's concept so unique is its multi-functionality. Since they plan to install thousands of miles of new rails, mostly through abandoned through-ways of old railroads, and along the existing through-ways of the National Highway System, they also plan on installing fiber optic communication lines in the same track. Other concepts they have are handling water and gas delivery to help offset the costs of operation. But perhaps the boldest idea is to sheathe the majority of the track's supports with solar panels.
They claim that these panels would generate electricity, which could be sold, or used to make hydrogen for sale at highway stops along the tracks. So much electricity, in fact, that once built, this system would regenerate 300% of the power needed for its operation. The excess power would be sold back into the grid, and into the hydrogen supply system as part of the business plan.
Like we said earlier, this concept is obviously in the early stages -- with a huge idea like this, the early stages can stretch out for years. But the idea of building energy-generating transportation infrastructure is interesting, even though it seems awfully expensive. More than anything else, we wanted to get this idea out into the global consciousness so that maybe people who are connected to these kinds of projects could get inspired or help ITC out.
And like all out prototype babies, we wish them the best of luck.