Rare earth crystals being used to better light city streets in Tampa

SMART Paint Pilot Project happening in Channelside
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 14, 2017

One Tampa neighborhood will soon use rare earth crystals to better light city streets. 


Area transportation leaders say this could be a long-lasting solution to make our roads more visible.

Tampa's Channelside district is going through a big transformation, including new apartment and condo buildings, a new dog park and a brand-new Publix grocery store in the works.

"It's an exciting time to be in this area," said Scott Massa, a long-time Channelside resident.

But there's one thing many of the residents like him can't seem to fix: traffic issues.

"People do fly through these streets," Massa said. "It's amazing how people go from Channelside Drive just to Kennedy to get to the light."

People have been begging to make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Now, there's a new age solution in the works: SMART paint, created from "rare earth crystals" from the company Intelligent Material.

Intelligent Material crystals absorb photons from the sun, street lights, headlights, moonlight and convert the wavelengths that are useful for sensors. Some materials exhibit greater than 150 hours afterglow after brief charging under natural light, according to the Hillsborough MPO.

The crystals are highly durable, remaining active after exposure to virtually any environment, including post-missile strike.

Sidewalk SMART paint stripes can be used as a guide for the visually impaired. 

Lane markings with SMART paint also help drivers better see what lane they are in.

SMART paint can also be used to mark everything from intersections, crosswalks and even bus stops.

Derek Scanlon, co-owner of Gingerbeard Coffee, a Channelside small business, said this will help better protect his customers. Many of them walk or bike to the businesses.

"I think it's definitely needed on these crossroads especially," Scanlon said.

Hillsborough MPO staff say the SMART paint pilot project is set to be installed soon.