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Using firmer pavement could save us $15.6 billion per year in fuel costs.

Why is that? Something called pavement deflection, the buzzword of a recent study by MIT civil engineers. Translation: When you drive, your car makes a slight indentation in the road—about 1/100 of a millimeter—and, as such, is continually burning fuel to climb out of that groove. Researcher Franz-Josef Ulm compares it to walking on sand—as your feet sink, they create a valley from which you’ll have to emerge. According to the study, stiffer roads, like ones paved with concrete or thicker layers of asphalt, would help reduce gas guzzling by about 3 percent, or more than $15 billion annually. “[It would] reduce the environmental footprint of our pavement systems for generations,” says Ulm, who hopes to achieve a more sustainable national infrastructure. Now that gives new meaning to street smarts. 

 

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