MassDOT reports it's negotiated a deal with two solar companies to outfit an existing 3,000-foot stretch of noise-barrier wall along Rte. 128 northbound in Lexington with solar panels as a pilot to see if the walls can be used to generate solar power and reduce the state's carbon footprint.
Under the letter of intent with KO-Solar and Solect, the solar-enabled barrier should generate 802,000 kWh a year - enough to power 120 homes and eliminate generation of 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide. MassDOT says this will be the first power-generating noise-barrier wall in the western hemisphere.
MassDOT says the panels will not detract from the wall's main purpose - blocking noise from nearby homes.
It adds that the 3,000-foot distance is equivalent to twice the length of the Empire State Building were it to be laid on its side, or in more local terms, three times the length of a similarly reposed Prudential Building.
In recent years, MassDOT has allowed the installation of a series of solar farms in otherwise vacant land along the Massachusetts Turnpike.