Virginia Smart Road

The Virginia Smart Road is a unique, state-of-the-art, full-scale, closed test-bed research facility managed by VTTI and owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The Smart Road continues to play an important role in the overall success of the institute and its research endeavors. Transportation scientists and product developers have spent more than 20,000 hours conducting research on this high-tech highway since its opening.

The Virginia Smart Road is now an FAA approved testing facility for flight.

Smart Road Features

  • A 2.2-mile, controlled-access test track built to Federal Highway Administration standards
  • Two paved lanes
  • Three bridges, including the Smart Road Bridge (the tallest state-maintained bridge in Virginia)
  • Full-time staff that coordinate all road activities
  • 24/7 access control and oversight
  • Lighting and weather system controls
  • Safety assurance and surveillance
  • Seven roadside equipment units that facilitate connected-vehicle communications
  • Two mobile roadside equipment sites
  • A connected-vehicle-compatible intersection controller model
  • Fourteen pavement sections, including an open-grade friction course
  • In-pavement sensors (that detect such factors as moisture, temperature, strain, vibration, and weigh-in-motion)
  • A zero-crown pavement section designed for flooded pavement testing
  • An American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)-designated surface friction testing facility
  • Seventy-five weather-making towers
  • Artificial snow production of up to four inches per hour (based on suitable weather conditions)
  • Production of differing intensities of rain with varying droplet sizes
  • Fog production
  • Two weather stations with official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather available within one mile
  • Variable pole spacing designed to replicate 95 percent of national highway systems
  • Multiple luminaire heads, including light-emitting diode (LED) modules
  • An optical fiber communication system
  • Ethernet fiber transceivers and Ethernet switches
  • A differential GPS base station for precise vehicle locating
  • A signalized intersection with complete signal phase and timing (SPaT) using remote controls
  • Wide shoulders for safe maneuvering during experimental testing

Control Room

Smart Road Control Room

VTTI houses the Smart Road Control Room through which on-road research is scheduled and overseen.

Dispatchers monitor the Smart Road from a computer-equipped control center that is staffed 24/7. Researchers can directly and indirectly observe highway traffic and driver performance using surveillance cameras available in the control room. Engineers can also control the lighting and the weather on the Smart Road.

VTTI serves as the primary quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) agency for the VDOT 511 Virginia project. The 511 system is designed for travelers and delivers information about events that may affect traffic, such as crashes, congestion, road work, and inclement weather.

QA/QC services provided by VTTI include but are not limited to:

  • Reviewing entries within the VDOT VaTraffic incident management system.
  • Monitoring the various 511 public services to ensure that VaTraffic information is delivered to the public in an accurate and timely manner. These 511 public services include:
    • The 511 public website that provides coverage for most roads in Virginia;
    • The 511 interactive voice response phone system (dial 511), which includes information for approximately 400 Virginia roads (all interstate roads and most primary roads);
    • The 511 Virginia Alert emails, available free to the public via subscription; and
    • Dynamic message boards located at nine welcome centers across Virginia.

The 511 and VaTraffic systems are monitored 24/7, 365 days per year from the Smart Road Control Room.