‘Sustainable Highway’ The Ray Announces New Partnership

Baker Owens

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

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Having already been called the world’s “first sustainable highway,” that 18 mile stretch of I-85 near Columbus called “The Ray” is setting its sights even higher as it formalizes a partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The new agreement seeks to increase opportunity for the living transportation innovation laboratory.

The agreement was laid out in a charter signed by members of the GDOT board, The Ray board  and a representative from the FHWA.

“The Ray is a unique opportunity for Georgia DOT and the entire state to lead during a time of great innovation and change in transportation,” said Lynn Westmoreland, the former congressman representing the area and a current member of the GDOT board. “This broad partnership is also an opportunity for Georgia to attract economic development, R&D, new jobs and tech start-ups in the transportation and infrastructure sectors.”

The Ray and GDOT have already worked together since the founding of the Ray in 2014 but this agreement will help to broaden the possibilities. Previous unanimous resolutions approved by the State Board of Transportation helped to pave the way for technology and infrastructure projects, such as the first solar road in the U.S., the first drive-over tire safety station, a solar-powered EV charging station and innovative land management solutions.

“The Ray is just getting started,” emphasized Harriet Langford, founder, and president of The Ray. “We’re fortunate to have the commitments and partnership of both GDOT and FHWA as we work together to shape our future to one that is safe, smart, and sustainable.”

Langford is the daughter of Ray C. Anderson, the founder of carpet manufacturer Interface Inc. and who was once called the “greenest CEO in America” and who passed away in 2011. Interface was founded in LaGrange in 1973 and became one of the leaders in the carpet tile trend in the 1980’s. Anderson had a realization about environmental sustainability and, over the last 30 years, Interface has also been one of the industrial leaders in this area. The Ray was dedicated in his memory in 2014.

The agreement also brings in the FHWA, which could potentially lead to more funding and innovation opportunities. The Ray will now become more solidified for the future and not be relying on periodic resolutions from the GDOT board.

“Our partnership with The Ray and GDOT exemplifies FHWA’s commitment to support our State and local partners in advancing innovative technologies and practices to improve the safety and performance of our transportation system”, said Moises Marrero, FHWA Georgia Division Administrator.