Virginia's Smart Road Project

Imagine the Future Benefits of a Smart Road

Smart Road MapFor Researchers
You and your research colleagues develop amazing new technology that will help motorists in the worst possible driving conditions: pouring rain, icy roads, blinding snowstorms. You schedule testing time at the Smart Road facility, the only research site in the country that offers the all-weather testing you need.

For Developers
It's your job to stay on the cutting edge of new technology. You hear that new transportation technologies are being tested at a unique Smart Road facility in Virginia. You know that research like this helps grow businesses-and that the Smart Road leaders are open to new partnerships. You can already envision the possibilities.

For Drivers
You are driving at night on a winding road. It's snowing, and you cannot see the road clearly. As you approach a curve, you make out the dim brake lights of traffic ahead. Despite the driving conditions, you feel safe, knowing your car is equipped with obstacle detection sensors that will warn you to stop - and you feel confident because the sensors were tested in all-weather conditions on the Smart Road.

Welcome to Smart Travel Via Virginia's Smart Road

The Smart Road will be a 5.7-mile, limited-access highway linking Interstate 81 and Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute, one of the country's three Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Research Centers of Excellence.

Virginia's Smart Road has two main purposes:

  • to provide a direct route for motorists between I-81 and Blacksburg, and
  • to offer researchers and product developers a state-of-the-art research lab for testing new transportation technologies.

Check Out the "Smart" Features We've Planned

  • All-weather testing capabilities-snow, ice, rain-using 75 snow-making towers.
  • Variable lighting section to study effects of lighting technologies on driving visibility and ITS equipment.
  • Advanced communications system including a local-area wireless network interfaced with a fiber-optic backbone.
  • Varied terrain, including a six percent grade, a range of elevations, and several bridges, all of which will provide extensive sensor-testing parameters.
  • Experimental pavement sections - both concrete and asphalt to assist in the characterization of pavement lifetime, long- and short-term performance, behavior under dynamic loading, and instrumentation assessment.
  • Turnarounds at each end of the test bed to allow for continuous driving.

Take Your Technology for a Smart Road Test

The Virginia Department of Transportation, working with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Federal Highway Administration, have built the first section of the Smart Road, a fully equipped 1.7-mile test bed where safety advances and innovations can be analyzed under a broad range of traffic conditions. Construction plans for the remaining road will unfold in phases to accommodate traffic demand and emerging technologies. The Smart Road will open to the traveling public after the entire 5.7-mile road is constructed. Virginia's Smart Road will be an ideal testing environment for: safety and human factors research, vehicle dynamics, road-to-vehicle communications, ITS product evaluation, and automated vehicle control.

To find out about Smart Road research opportunities contact:



  • Jose.Gomez@VDOT.Virginia.gov
  • Ray Pethtel
    University Transportation Fellow and Associate Director
    Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
    540-231-1546
    E-mail: rpethtel@vt.edu

Smart Travel

For motorists, Smart Road research will lead to safer highways and vehicles, more convenient travel, less stress behind the wheel, and a direct route between Blacksburg and I-81. For researchers, it offers a unique opportunity to apply their creative visions to real-life situations in a low-risk environment. For business developers, taking the Smart Road could result in profitable partnerships and new ventures.

Return to the Smart Road project summary page.

Page last modified: Oct. 14, 2012