PennDOT, Turnpike & Penn State plan transportation research center

Written by The Associated Press | Apr 10, 2018 12:06 PM

Tractor-trailers compete with passenger cars on a stretch of Interstate 81 near exit 16.(Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Harrisburg) -- PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission say they'll work with Penn State to build a state-of-the-art highway and transportation technology center.

The agencies say it is expected to help emergency responders, transportation planners and researchers improve traffic safety, intelligent transportation systems and automated vehicles.

"We as highway operators have a responsibility to adapt to growing traffic and emerging technology in a thoughtful way while also being mindful of the speed at which these changes are taking place in our industry," said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. "The testing and training that will be available at PennSTART will give the commonwealth a huge head-start on ensuring the continued safety of travelers and responders on our highways both today and well into the future."

A feasibility study will determine the cost of the project and the length of time it would take to get such a facility up and running.

"Penn State is pleased to partner with PennDOT and the PTC to begin exploring potential sites and design specifications for this much needed facility," said Penn State Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey. "As envisioned, the PennSTART facility would provide a wonderful facility for teaching and research while ensuring the safety of our highway workers, improving traffic flow and advancing safe vehicle automation."

Work is already done on a draft rendering and video simulation of the Pennsylvania Safety, Transportation and Research Track, or PennSTART.

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