Ohio’s Transportation Research Center gets $45M to expand smart mobility testing

Ohio’s Transportation Research Center (TRC) is getting a new 540-acre facility specifically for testing and researching smart mobility solutions, with on-site plans for a 12-lane intersection and reconfigurable test platform wider than 50 highway lines and as long as 10 football fields. That comes courtesy of a new $45 million grant from Ohio State University, Ohio state funds and Jobs Ohio.

The new facility will be able to simulate conditions in urban, rural and suburban settings, including the ability to simulate traffic, car crashes, different network connectivity and smart infrastructure and more.

The Ohio testing facility is billed as the “largest independent test facility and proving grounds in North America,” though it wasn’t on the list of 10 official Proving Grounds named by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this month. Still, the TRC boasts 4,500 total acres of testing facilities, and is seeking additional funding to help it complete phases two and three of its Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test Center, which will include a full highway loop, as well as an indoor testing facility protected from winter climate conditions.

TRC is located in the Columbus area, which is also seeking to create a corridor for smart mobility testing on public roads in the state in partnership with Dublin, Marysville and Union County. Honda also houses the majority of its North American operations in the area, which helps it maintain strong ties to industry.

Proving grounds like this one are very much a target for funding from academic, private and public funds at the moment, as the car industry looks to explore new revenue models, and cities try to anticipate the transportation demands of future urban centres, for which congestion is an increasing problem.