Ohio Invests $45 Million in Smart Mobility Center

February 16, 2017 at 8:28 AM

The Transportation Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, has received a $45 million state grant to create a hub for automated and autonomous vehicle testing. Ohio State University and Jobs Ohio also are contributing to the program.

The 540-acre Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test (SMART) center will be built within TRC’s massive 4,500-acre complex, which is said to be the largest independent automotive proving grounds in the U.S. The first phase of the program will feature a 12-lane intersection and a large test platform that will be wider than more than 50 highway lanes and the length of 10 football fields, both of which are said to be the largest in the world among testing facilities.  

The plans call for and a range of networks that reflect different environments. These include:

  • An urban network of intersections, roundabouts and traffic signals
  • A rural network that includes wooded roads
  • A neighborhood network that tests slower speeds
  • A SMART Center support building

Two additional phases also are in the works for an indoor winter weather facility and a highway loop. These projects would require separate funding.

The TRC investment is part of Ohio’s efforts to upgrade its infrastructure and become a leader in advanced mobility technology and programs. Last summer, Columbus beat out 77 other cities to win the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $40 million Smart City Challenge. Supplemented by another $100 million of public and private funding, Columbus plans an all-inclusive approach to mobility to improve access to jobs, public services and other resources.

In November the state announced a $15 million plan for a Smart Mobility Corridor, starting with installing fiber optic cable and sensors in the 35-mile stretch of highway between Columbus and the TRC. And earlier this year, Ohio State co-founded the Smart Belt Coalition with academic institutions and transportation agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to support vehicle technology research, testing, policy, funding and the sharing of data.