A long-term partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, and Florida Polytechnic University (FPU), has held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of SunTrax, a high-tech automotive test facility.
Situated on a 400-acre site in the city of Auburndale, and centrally located between Tampa and Orlando, SunTrax will be within 45 minutes of Florida’s Turnpike headquarters in Ocoee, centralizing testing operations.
The initial phase of the project focuses on the construction of an innovative toll testing facility expected to offer local, and potentially national and international, certification for tolling technologies. The construction of the 2.25-mile (3.6km) long oval track has been designed to support high-speed testing of toll technologies with multiple lanes and parallel tolled express lanes, similar to those being constructed within the state and across the country.
This phase of construction also includes vertical structures and other facilities to support toll systems testing and development, including the hardware and software used on tolled facilities. The oval will also allow for the testing of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology such as lane departure, and platooning.
With over four million daily SunPass customer transactions, Florida’s Turnpike processes more than 1.4 billion toll transactions annually on a statewide basis for FDOT and multiple regional and local toll agencies. The approximately 200-acre infield is being designed as a hub for CAV testing. The infield is being developed in partnership with Florida Poly, allowing the university to offer its students unique opportunities to participate in the research, development and testing of new technologies. Features of the infield facility will include a learning laboratory, a simulated city center, suburban and rural roadways, interconnected signalized intersections, interchange ramps, roundabouts, and various types of pavement. The included features will be equipped to perform research, development and testing of data and security, vehicle safety and equipment certification. Construction of the infield is scheduled to begin in autumn 2018, and the track is due for completion in spring 2019.
“As a leader in transportation technology, Florida is creating this high-tech hub for the research, development, and testing of emerging transportation technologies related to tolling, intelligent transportation systems and other advanced transportation concepts,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, executive director of Florida’s Turnpike.
“SunTrax enhances Florida’s place at the forefront of new transportation and tolling technologies, while providing Florida Poly a unique opportunity for its students to participate in the testing and development of transportation technologies and innovations.”