In December 2016, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced that the state would invest $15 million to install high-capacity fiber optic cable and embedded, wireless sensors along a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33, called the Smart Mobility Corridor, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The work is scheduled to begin in May and continue throughout the summer.
According to the ODOT website, 432 strands of high-speed data fiber optic line will be installed along the roadway, linking the Honda/OSU Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio and the Ohio Super Computer Center through Dublin, Ohio. The fiber optic line will consist of two 35-mile routes. The first will be constructed within the U.S. 33 right-of-way beginning in May, enhancing Ohio’s existing fiber optic network and connecting researchers and traffic monitors to data collected from the wireless sensors. The second will serve as a backup line and as a high-speed data link for local governments and businesses. It will be completed at a later time.
Through this investment, officials are hoping to position Ohio and the Smart Mobility Corridor as a premier testing sites for self-driving vehicles. ODOT states that the forthcoming technology will allow autonomous and connected vehicle researchers to test technologies on a highway that runs through rural and urban settings, experiences varied weather conditions and carries up to 50,000 vehicles per day. Additionally, the technology will provide more frequent and accurate traffic counts, weather and surface condition monitoring, and incident management improvements. The Smart Mobility Corridor is already home to more than 50 automotive-related companies including Honda manufacturing and The Ohio State University’s Transportation Research Center, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
In the ODOT press release, Gov. Kasich said, “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.”
OTTO Motors, a San Francisco-based self-driving technology company tested self-driving semi-trucks on U.S. 33 last fall and have plans to complete more tests this spring and summer on the Ohio turnpike (I-80). According to WOSU Radio, workers are installing sensors and upgrading 241 miles of existing fiber optic cable along the toll road.
The Smart Mobility Corridor project is a key component of the state’s new Smart Mobility Initiative and one of several smart technology projects underway in the state. The City of Columbus is being developed into a hub for smart transportation through a $40 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant, matching funds from the city and more than $90 million from private-sector partners. Additionally, the U.S. DOT awarded $6 million to the City of Dublin, the City of Marysville and Union County in Ohio, which—with matching local funds—will be used to expand the fiber optic networks linking them to U.S. 33, install highway sensors and retrofit government vehicles to send and receive data.
Ohio also money in the budget for two more smart corridors on I-90 in Lake County and I-270 in Franklin County.
Visit http://gis3.dot.state.oh.us/US33_Smart_Mobility_Corridor/ to view an interactive map of the project and its progress.