Ohio’s 33 Smart Corridor
By Jason Stanford, Development Services Manager for the Marysville-Union County Economic Development and Port Authority and Eric Phillips, Executive Director of the Marysville-Union County Port Authority
Driverless cars on Central Ohio roadways? It could happen sooner than many realize thanks to a collaborative effort lead by the NW 33 Council of Governments (COG) and the Ohio Department of Transportation to transform US-33 into Ohio’s 33 Smart Corridor.
The 33 Smart Corridor is a 35-mile highway test corridor between Dublin, Marysville, and East Liberty. This corridor is anchored by automotive assets such as Honda of America, the Transportation Research Center and over 65 automotive companies, representing one of the largest concentrations of automotive companies in Ohio. It is because of this concentration that the US-33 corridor has been identified by the Ohio Department of Transportation as the first of six designated “smart” projects aimed at testing real-world autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.
To ensure that the 33 Smart Corridor becomes the nation’s longest highway ready for autonomous and connected driving, significant investment in infrastructure upgrades must occur. These investments, which began in 2017, include the construction of a 39-mile, 432-strand redundant fiber optic network along US-33 and Industrial Parkway, the installation of 62 roadside units, and upgrades to 32 traffic signals in Marysville and Dublin. Additionally, the State of Ohio and The Ohio State University committed $45 million for the Phase I expansion of the Transportation Research Center’s new 540-acre SMART (Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test) Center. The SMART Center is designed to test new technologies and highly automated vehicles in a closed, safe, and secure environment before the vehicles are deployed on public highways. Construction of the SMART Center began in 2017 and is expected to be completed in late-2018. To-date, over $217 million has been pledged by public and private partners in the 33 Smart Corridor.
As the 33 Smart Corridor comes to fruition, the research and development of autonomous and connected vehicles, and smart technologies in Ohio will rapidly expand. Industry leaders and government officials are hopeful that these advancements will benefit the public and business community by improving travel times, increasing highway safety, reducing carbon emissions, optimizing freight delivery, and ensuring that transportation systems are fully accessible and integrated.
For more information about the 33 Smart Corridor, please visit www.33smartcorridor.com.