Allie Kelly wants to use 16 miles of Interstate 85, between Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama, to raise environmental awareness about roads.

Highway photo

Kelly is executive director of “The Ray” – a project to make the Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway the world’s first sustainable road.

Kelly: “We’re committed to driving the conversation about what we can do to innovate transportation. And there’s a lot of opportunity, because we haven’t innovated transportation since we started building highways sixty-plus years ago.”

The Ray logo

Building and maintaining roads is energy-intensive, and cars and trucks emit carbon pollution.

So Kelly and the Ray’s trustees are turning the highway into a living lab that demonstrates how a road can have a net zero environmental impact. It may one day include noise-canceling solar panels, trees to capture carbon pollution, even embedded technology to help driverless cars navigate.

Allie Kelly
Allie Kelly, director of ‘The Ray’

And when it’s resurfaced, they want to use recycled materials like tires and shingles. When added together . . .

Kelly: “We have the technology to build a carbon negative road. That blows my mind, I hope it blows yours.”

”The Click To Tweet

The Ray – which is still a work in progress – is a tribute to the late Ray Anderson, a pioneering business leader in sustainability and conservation.

Reporting credit: Justin Bull/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Highway photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
The Ray
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
Can A 16-Mile Stretch Of Road Become The World’s First Sustainable Highway?

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...