We may not have flying space cars, but other advances in technology will be tested right here in Hillsborough County. A “Connected Vehicle” pilot program proposed by the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) has been awarded $2.4 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for an initial phase. If all goes well, the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) would then receive an additional $14 million to implement the program.
Connected vehicles are designed to make transportation safer, smarter and more energy efficient by outfitting cars, buses, and roadside equipment with technology so they communicate with each other and respond to traffic conditions. THEA’s partners include Tampa Transportation and HART.
This technology can’t come soon enough considering the Tampa Bay Area’s consistent poor ratings in the areas of traffic congestion and severe crashes.
“We will allow for cars, buses, and roadside equipment with technology so that they can communicate with each other, and with people, for real time adjustments in various traffic conditions,” said THEA Executive Director and MPO Board member Joe Waggoner. “Our goal is to improve safety, for vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Tampa is one of three cities receiving DOT grants to study connected and automated vehicle technology. “This intelligent vehicle industry will eventually be a $35 billion industry here in the United States,” said DOT’s Peter Rogoff. “And a lot of those jobs and a lot of that activity and a lot of that excitement is going to come right here to Tampa because you are one of the first movers as a result of this contract.” He said that the technology had the potential to reduce fatalities by as much as 80 percent.