Construction of SunTrax was officially launched Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
SunTrax, a long-term partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise and Florida Polytechnic University, includes a 2.25 mile oval track on a 400-acre site in the city of Auburndale.
Centrally located between Tampa and Orlando, SunTrax will be within 45 minutes of Florida’s Turnpike headquarters in Ocoee, centralizing testing operations.
Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Executive Director of Florida’s Turnpike, said: “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. 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.”
Dr. Randy K. Avent, President of Florida Poly, said: “The SunTrax partnership with Florida’s Turnpike is an exciting venture for Florida Polytechnic University and an unparalleled economic driver for the state of Florida. 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.”
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 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 utilized on tolled facilities. The oval will also allow for the testing of connected and automated technology such as lane departure, and vehicle platooning.
With over four million daily SunPass customer transactions, Florida’s Turnpike processes over 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 connected and automated vehicle 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 these cutting-edge 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, various types of pavement and more.
The included features will be equipped to perform research, development and testing of data and security, vehicle safety and equipment certification. This facility will provide a safe environment for testing these emerging technologies before they are deployed in live traffic.
Construction of the oval track is scheduled to be complete in spring 2019. Construction of the 200-acre infield, purpose-built for automated and connected vehicles testing, is scheduled to begin in fall 2018.
“SunTrax will be the first step in building the surrounding area into a destination for the development of this quickly emerging and advancing automotive technology,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Hundreds of acres are available immediately adjacent to the facility for the future development that will support the growth of this emerging industry.”