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Virginia's 'smart road' is a laboratory on pavement

BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- It's only two miles long, doesn't go anywhere and cannot be found on any map, but a state-of-the-art road in Virginia may be one of the most important stretches of highway found anywhere.

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CNN's Carl Rochelle shows the capabilities of the road in Virginia.

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"It's the only real highway test-bed in the world. It's the only facility that can make its own weather," said Ray Pethtel, the associate director of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

When the roadbed was being built, 12 different types of surfaces were laid to test durability and traction in rain and snow. Imbedded in the road are sensors the size of small pizzas and a magnet strip which help monitor the movement of cars.

The "smart road," which so far has cost $17 million in state and federal funds, is also unique in its ability to provide a variety of test conditions on demand, such as rain, snow or fog. Engineers use the road to test vehicles, drivers, signs and pavement.

Listen to Carl Rochelle's report on the various uses and futures plans for the "smart road."



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