While this story is not Mansfield or Richland County-centric, it does involve a major announcement by the State of Ohio related to transportation. As a community situated on a major interstate highway going north and south, and another limited access highway going east and west, the future of how Ohioans get from place to place is sure to have an impact here – and the future is arriving quicker than you might think.
This is a press release from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Continuing to build its reputation as a world leader in smart mobility, including autonomous and connected vehicle research, Ohio is investing $15 million to install advanced highway technology along the Smart Mobility Corridor, a 35‑mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 in Central Ohio. Announcing the project today in Dublin, Gov. John R. Kasich said the state’s partnership with leading automotive research centers and local governments in the region will create an ideal proving ground to safely test innovative technologies that will change the way people and products are transported in Ohio and across the world.
At the conclusion of the event, a self-driving truck operated by Otto, a leading developer of self-driving vehicle technology, traveled from Dublin to East Liberty on the U.S. Route 33 Smart Mobility Corridor. Otto also plans for its truck to drive on the Ohio Turnpike later this week.
“Some of the world’s foremost automotive researchers are working here in Ohio, at both ends of this corridor, and this project provides them with the perfect location and state-of-the-art infrastructure for safely testing autonomous and connected vehicle technologies,” Gov. Kasich said. “Ohio has been at the heart of automotive manufacturing and innovation since the industry’s earliest days. Those ties strengthen with each passing year and innovations developed here will continue to build on our state’s historic role as a world leader in transportation technology,” he said.
The Smart Mobility Corridor, 35 miles of four-lane, limited access highway between Dublin and East Liberty, northwest of Columbus, will be equipped by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) with high-capacity fiber optic cable to instantaneously link researchers and traffic monitors with data from embedded and wireless sensors along the roadway. These links will allow the premier automotive testing, research and manufacturing facilities to test smart transportation technologies on a highway that carries up to 50,000 vehicles per day through rural and urban settings in a full range of weather conditions. This data will also provide more frequent and accurate traffic counts, weather and surface condition monitoring, and incident management improvements.
“Data collected on this corridor will allow automotive innovators to test and refine jobs‑creating technologies that are going to help move people and products more safely and efficiently than ever before,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “By being one of the first – and best positioned – states to embrace autonomous and connected vehicle technology, Ohio can also be among the first to benefit from its rewards, giving Ohioans a safer, better driving experience and offering businesses reduced transportation costs, faster access to markets and increased efficiencies,” he said.
ODOT’s partners in the project include Honda R&D Americas, the Transportation Research Center at East Liberty and The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research and as well as local governments – the City of Dublin, City of Marysville and Union County – along the route. The Smart Mobility Corridor will also align with work underway to develop the City of Columbus as a hub for intelligent transportation, spurred by a $40 million “Smart City” grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and more than $90 million committed to date by private-sector partners.
Work to install sensors and a fiber optic network along the corridor is schedule to begin in May 2017 and last throughout the summer. Traffic disruptions are not expected during installation.
The Smart Mobility Corridor is a key component of the state’s new Smart Mobility Initiative, a collaborative effort between ODOT, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Wright State University, The Ohio State University, Transportation Research Center, and Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
The state’s investment announced today also complements another U.S. Department of Transportation grant, $6 million awarded to Dublin, Marysville and Union County, and matched by local funds, to expand their fiber-optic networks linking to U.S. 33, install highway sensors and retrofit government vehicles to send and receive data. As autonomous and connected vehicle research expands throughout the state, the Ohio Turnpike with its existing fiber-optic network is set to become the centerpiece of a contiguous, interstate highway test corridor eventually stretching from New York to Detroit and Chicago.
Since Gov. Kasich took office in 2011, the state has invested $12.5 billion in nearly 6,000 projects that improve safety and keep people and goods moving in Ohio. The Smart Mobility Corridor represents another significant investment in the future of Ohio’s transportation landscape.