The state transportation department wants to know if the sun can keep snow and ice from accumulating on bridges.

The department is borrowing the idea from homes that have radiant heating elements in their floors.In this case, the wornout decks of two bridges on either side of Excelsior Springs will be rebuilt next year and solar panels will be used to keep the pavement warm.

State bridge engineer Dennis Heckmann says it’s a test of technology that might be used on other bridges later : “We use…heated liquid to prevent snow and ice buidlup on the bridge. That technology has been around for about 50 years but it’s usually been done with gas-fired or electric or even geo-thermal heat to heat the liquid.”

The issue is whether solar panels can do the job. He says the decks need to be only a few degrees above freezing to be kept clear of snow and ice.Heckman says the department can sell solar-generated power back to a power company when the weather is good. He thinks the program will show whether it works after just a couple of winters.

Bob Priddy interviews Dennis Heckman  6:45