Lenexa may become first city to implement large-scale smart pavement project

Leah Wankum - November 6, 2019 11:54 am
Lenexa City Center may be getting smart pavement soon. Image from Integrated Roadways

Lenexa City Center may become the first place in the country to showcase the real-world application of major smart infrastructure technologies.

Integrated Roadways, a Kansas City, Missouri-based supplier of smart pavement materials and transportation technology, posed the idea to the Lenexa city council Tuesday night.

The company has a similar but smaller-scale project on Brighton Boulevard in Denver, but if Lenexa city leaders agree to allow the company to install smart pavement at City Center, then the city would become the first to host a large-scale smart pavement project in a live-traffic environment.

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Integrated Roadways hopes to invest roughly $8.5 million into the showcase, which involves upgrading 72 driving lanes at five intersections along Renner Boulevard and West 87th Street in Lenexa City Center. The technology includes precast concrete sections that have embedded fiber optics and digital technology. Those installations allow vehicles to easily connect to the internet and provide real-time traffic monitoring as well as a full record of traffic history.

Miguel Jaramillo, director of business development for Integrated Roadways

Miguel Jaramillo, director of business development for Integrated Roadways, said Lenexa would benefit from the installation of smart pavement with real-time traffic data analytics for improved management, operation and planning.

“This showcase will be a way to demonstrate new technologies and will be a platform for the connected electric vehicle industries that have evolving demands from roads that cannot support them currently,” Jaramillo said, adding that the smart pavement can also be a platform for federal research and development projects as well as research at universities that lack commercial opportunities.

Todd Pelham, deputy city manager, said the deployment of smart pavement at City Center could become part of the city’s strategy to implement recommends from the Vision 2040 plan. That plan calls for integrating new technologies into the city’s existing infrastructure. He noted that smart infrastructure is also in line with the city’s desire to attract innovative, entrepreneurial commercial business partners within City Center.

The result would move traffic through the city more quickly, Pelham added.

Tim Sylvester, chief executive officer of Integrated Roadways, said the company staff is “really excited” to be working with Lenexa on the smart infrastructure showcase.

Tim Sylvester, chief executive officer of Integrated Roadways

“When we first started talking to them, they shared their vision for 2040, and as we were reading it, we thought wow, what they want to do is exactly the same kind of stuff that we want to do,” Sylvester said. “It just seemed like such serendipity. They had really laid it all out for us, and they were now looking for opportunities to take steps towards that.”

Lenexa city councilmembers on Tuesday seemed interested in moving forward with the project. They wanted to ensure the company does not collect private data about users and that the pavement would not negatively impact operations for things like snow removal. Company leaders said they do neither of these things.

Jaramillo said that if Lenexa allows the project to move forward, the city could gain a reputation as a thought leader for smart infrastructure and attract entrepreneurs to develop this type of technology.

Sylvester said Lenexa would also have improved traffic data collection and insights for transportation systems management and operations and make more informed decisions in transportation planning processes.

“To have the opportunity to work with Lenexa in such an incredible area, to help them take the next steps towards what they see as being the future of their community, it’s an incredible time for us, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with the city on this,” Sylvester said.

The Lenexa city council will likely consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 19. If approved by the council, the project will undergo final approvals and design over the next few months. On this schedule, operations of the smart infrastructure system in Lenexa City Center could begin in 2025.

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