Florida DOT developing SunTrax, a transportation R&D facility, with Florida Polytech

Updated Oct 4, 2016
Artist rendering of the potential SunTrax transportation technology research facility.Artist rendering of the potential SunTrax transportation technology research facility.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Florida Polytechnic University plan to build a 400-acre transportation technology testing site, dubbed SunTrax, in Polk County between Tampa and Orlando.

SunTrax would include a 2.25-mile oval track and would be developed as a “high-tech hub for the research, development and testing of emerging transportation technologies related to tolling, intelligent transportation systems and automated and connected vehicles.”

“SunTrax at Florida Polytechnic places the future of tolling and technology testing squarely in the Sunshine State,” says Florida Secretary of Transportation Jim Boxold. “This facility creates a partnership between the public and private sectors to tackle new technology challenges facing the industry for our road users.”

The facility would be constructed in phases, with the first focused on a toll testing operation designed to offer certification for tolling technologies. Officials say the track would be designed for testing of high-speed tolling, and feature multiple lanes and parallel tolled express lanes akin to ones currently in Florida.

This phase also would involve construction of buildings and facilities to support the ancillary toll technology research including hardware and software. The facility will be 45 minutes from the Florida Turnpike headquarters in Ocoee.

The next phase would involve developing the estimated 200-acre infield area of the track to be designed as a “hub” for testing connected and automated vehicle technology. Students at the university participating in research, development and testing would also use the facilities.

Potential features to be added include a learning laboratory, simulated city center, suburban and rural roadways, interconnected signalized intersections, interchange ramps, roundabouts and multiple pavement types.

“The SunTrax partnership is an exciting venture for Florida Polytechnic University and an unparalleled economic driver for the State of Florida,” says Florida Poly President Dr. Randy Avent. “This joint facility for research, development and testing of advanced transportation concepts will greatly increase our opportunities for faculty research and industry partnerships. As a university founded in the practice of applied research, we look forward to these increased opportunities that SunTrax will bring to our faculty, students and the state of Florida as a whole.”