• March 21st, 2015

The following is about infrastructure. Don’t nod off just yet.

To be specific, it’s about pavement — basic, boring road surface. In the six decades since Interstate 70 began to creep across Missouri, how we view pavement hasn’t changed much.

Now meet Tim Sylvester, 33. He sees pavement as an electronic tablet with a concrete touch screen.

Assembled right, it would help navigate rigs with no drivers. If Sylvester can get Missouri officials on board, I-70 might evolve from the cracking corridor it’s long been to what he envisions as the “first smart interstate” in America.

As the nation’s overall repair needs reach the trillions of dollars, Sylvester and a coming generation of engineers hope to convert dumb old infrastructure into tech-rich traffic lanes, pipelines and utilities boasting brains tuned to the 21st century.

Though his dream is just a proposal needing financial support — mostly private — and plenty of testing, “it would completely change how we look at roads,” he said.