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Chicago Pilots Solar Bus Shelters, Rubber Sidewalks

Chicago officials unveiled a solar-powered bus shelter and a 550-foot sidewalk made of recycled rubber this week, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The bus shelter is the first of about 100 to be built starting in 2007 and its lights will be powered by solar cells. Officials say each shelter will save the city an estimated $200 per year in electricity.

Under the current street furniture contract, operated by JC Decaux, the city will not have to cover construction or maintenance costs. The French company will build and service the shelters for free, even though the solar shelters will not have advertising because of the extra power required to illuminate ads.

The rubber sidewalk, from Rubbersidewalks, a California company that transforms old tires into 2×2 1/2 foot squares, is part of a 12-month pilot program to determine whether the environmentally friendly material can hold up to foot traffic and Chicago’s weather. The rubber sidewalks cost two to three times more than traditional concrete.

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