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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has launched a research project with the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, which will use a section of Interstate 66 in Fairfax County as a test bed for connected-vehicle and connected-infrastructure technology. The four-square-mile test bed is located on I-66 between the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) and Nutley Street, and on parallel U.S. 50 and U.S. 29.

McDonnell said: "This test bed will allow Virginia researchers to develop a range of applications that will result in faster infrastructure repair and maintenance, better emergency-response times and incident and congestion management. Most importantly, this research seeks to save drivers in Virginia both time and money by offering technological solutions for a safer driving experience and improved travel times on those unavoidable workday commutes."

The test-bed area has 43 locations equipped with wireless infrastructure units and two additional mobile wireless units to collect data. Twelve research vehicles will collect information, such as acceleration, braking, curve handling and emissions; four of the 12 are the only connected motorcycles in existence. The connected-vehicle test fleet also includes a bus and a semi-truck to test public-transportation and freight applications.

It's all about developing immediate real-world solutions as quickly as road conditions may change.

The test bed McDonnell announced is actually the second of two working in a complementary manner. During the spring and summer of 2012, two test beds were developed, equipped and installed across the state of Virginia. These test beds are the primary research testing areas for the Connected Vehicle/Infrastructure University Transportation Center (CVI-UTC). One of the test beds is located in Southwest Virginia in Blacksburg Virginia at the Virginia Smart Road and along Route 460. The second test bed is located in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia along I-66 and on the parallel Routes 29 and 50; the latter roadways are intended for dynamic alternate route research.

Both of these test beds consist of over 50 roadside equipment units and utilize a large fleet of highly instrumented vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, a motor coach and a semi-truck.

Undoubtedly, the Northern Virginia test bed is a tremendous asset with respect to testing and deployment of research findings. Key elements of this test bed are strong partnerships with local agencies, including law enforcement and transit providers, particularly the Fairfax County Transit Authority. VDOT said this test bed location was selected because it has transportation system deficiencies: congestion, high crash rates, air quality non-attainment. Through this test bed, these transportation system deficiencies can be effectively addressed by connected-vehicle technologies that include a high level of multimodal interactions.

The CVI-UTC Consortium believes that this test bed provides a variety of roadway types, topography and driver types to exercise a connected-vehicle system across a range of environments yet provides opportunities for containment such that a high number of equipped vehicle interactions will occur.

To learn more about the Virginia Connected Vehicle Test Bed or the current connected-vehicle research that the Connected Vehicle/Infrastructure University Transportation Center (CVI-UTC) is conducting in Northern Virginia on I-66, visit CVI-UTC.org