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Sleepy Sandpoint Marvels at Pre-Dawn Preview of Solar Roadways

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For a good many sleepy citizens of Sandpoint, they finally got what they had been waiting for early Sunday morning.

"Whoa." "Cool." "Nice going." Those were just some of reactions when a sampling of the Solar Roadways project winked on in the pre-dawn hours in Sandpoint. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports Solar Roadways founders Scott and Julie Brusaw were still struggling to get the solar panels perfectly level on a bed of sand and even considered pulling them out for re-instillation. By Saturday afternoon, an anticipating crowd of onlookers was growing. 

"We don't want you to have to wait two or three hours without seeing something," said Julie Brusaw. "So we have three panels lit up and you can see some of the panels in place."

The sand wasn't properly compacted until about 9 p.m. Pacific Time, and it was close to 5 a.m. Sunday, before the first phase of the panels was fully installed.

"There are some various problems with LED lights and solar cells caused by the same lamination machine failure which caused our delay. We grouped the working LEDs in the middle and it still looks amazing. We just quickly threw up some random LED patterns. We'll be creating lots more soon," wrote Brusaw on Facebook early Sunday morning. "This is our 3rd night with very little sleep, so we will probably sleep most of the day."

Aaron Qualls, Planning and Economic Development director for the city of Sandpoint, took the delay in stride. 

"[With] transformative, disruptive, never-before-tried-in-the-world technology, you're going to have hangups," he said at the rainy Saturday afternoon demonstration.

So far, the first phase of the Solar Roadways project only covers about 150-square feet in the Bonner County community of Sandpoint. Each of the solar panels will not only display their own traffic lines and messages but will be able to melt snow and ice.