Union County, Ohio (population of 52,300 in 2010), and its county seat, the City of Marysville (population of 22,094) are testing vehicle and infrastructure connectivity in real-world conditions.[i] Along the U.S. 33 corridor, this area and neighboring counties are home to automotive manufacturers and research and development entities, making the area ready for innovation. At the initial publishing of this report in September 2020, the local jurisdictions were collaborating with Drive Ohio, the state’s multi-agency partnership to advance smart mobility, Honda, and other partners. The goal of this work was to deploy roadside dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), on-board units in vehicles, and other technologies through connected intersections within the City of Marysville and along the U.S. 33 corridor, which connects Marysville to destinations such as Columbus to the southeast and to the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty to the northwest.[ii]
The efforts occurring within Marysville, Ohio, and along the U.S. 33 corridor in Union County are interrelated but each have a distinct approach.
The City of Marysville, Ohio, launched Connected Marysville, a project that equipped all 27 traffic signals with DSRC to enable communication between the signals and more than 500 planned connected vehicles in the community. This allowed the city to serve as a rural, smart mobility test site and provided automotive companies, government agencies, and academia an opportunity to develop and test connected vehicle technologies in a real-world environment.[iii]
At the first intersection to receive cameras and DSRC to support connectivity (shown in the Figure 22), downtown buildings at each corner of the intersection block the driver’s view, reducing their opportunity to react safely to another vehicle running the red light, an approaching emergency vehicle, or even a pedestrian crossing. These applications, along with signal phase and timing messages, alerted drivers through their on-board units to the possibility of conflict so that they could react in time.
The city hoped that up to 5 percent of traffic would ultimately be equipped with on-board DSRC units, giving a large enough sample size to study how connected vehicles and intersections work together and how technology can support the goal of reducing fatalities. The vehicles with DSRC units included city and state vehicles such as government fleets and law enforcement vehicles, as well as volunteers interested in participating and local Honda employees.[iv]
The city worked with key partners to move the project forward. Significant funding was provided through the U.S. DOT. Drive Ohio provided funding through ODOT, technology, and technical assistance in the project. Honda provided research, technology, and equipment, and has recruited employees to have their vehicles equipped with on-board units. Union County-Marysville Economic Development provided communications and marketing throughout the community, including in connection to other smart transportation projects, and supports the Northwest 33 Council of Governments who had partnered on the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor.
33 Smart Mobility Corridor
The 33 Smart Mobility Corridor is a 35-mile stretch of connected highway with on-the-road infrastructure that allows for the development and testing of vehicle connectivity technologies in a real-world, open and closed, all-weather environment. The corridor included 94 roadside DSRC units and more than 175 smart signals, including those in Marysville as well as other jurisdictions along the corridor. The project has allowed for testing in rural, exurban, suburban, and urban environments.
The City of Marysville, Union County, and Union County-Marysville Economic Development have been players in the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor as well as in the Connected Marysville project. Since the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor spans a larger geography, other key partners have included the City of Columbus, City of Dublin, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Transportation Research Center, The Ohio State University and Center for Automotive Research, Honda, ODOT and Drive Ohio, JobsOhio, Battelle, and Logan County. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has played a role in convening partners and supporting the project as a benefit to the entire central Ohio region, as the staff to the area’s MPO and the Central Ohio Rural Planning Organization. These entities work together either as members of the Northwest 33 Council of Governments or as external partners, and together have focused the efforts of working groups on infrastructure, vehicles, smart network, engagement, and funding and finance.[v]
Innovation in transportation technologies is emerging around Ohio in a variety of rural, suburban, and urban locations, and in various types of technologies and applications across modes. The data and information gathered from both Connected Marysville and the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor has been important for research, manufacturing, transportation planning and operations, and more. At the time of initial publishing, lessons learned from the rollout of these projects included the amount of time and engagement needed for volunteers to sign on to install on-board units in their vehicles and receive the benefits of intersection conflict warnings and other alerts. Project participants also had not anticipated the pace of change of technology and adaptations that need to be made over time, even as some locations for roadside units needed to install adequate power supply.[vi]
These and other investments in advanced transportation technologies sparked interest in workforce development. A Smart Workforce Committee was established including state and local government partners, educational institutions, and private sector partners. With a significant presence in the region of automotive and other advanced manufacturing as well as research sites, Union County-Marysville Economic Development anticipated future growth in jobs and investment made in the area. A program was created to train high school students in this field, with local private sector partners offering the students hands-on experience through internships.[vii]
As of May 2023, efforts have been largely focused on coordinating and conducting the installation of on-board units in both city public agency fleet vehicles and private citizen volunteer vehicles. The latter are part of a research project led by DriveOhio, focused on driver interactions with and behavior in relation to connected vehicle (CV) technology. The hope of this project is to increase saturation of CVs on the road network, expanding sample size and allowing greater data collection. Noting the FCC ruling to sunset DSRC technology, the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor and its partners are actively planning for the transition. They continue to study the effectiveness of CV technology and the use of transportation technology to improve roadway safety.[viii]
The ability to test out new technologies in Marysville and Union County has been the result of significant investments by multiple partners. The NW 33 Innovation Corridor Partnership was the recipient of a $5.9 million grant from the U.S. DOT in 2016.
ODOT funded the installation of a fiber network at a cost of approximately $15 million in support of the investments along the corridor, along with local public match of $400,000. Local public and private sources matched these state and federal investments with nearly $3.5 million. Another $45 million has been invested to establish a dedicated connected and automated vehicle testing facility at the Transportation Research Center, which is an enclosed vehicle proving ground situated along U.S. 33 in East Liberty, Ohio.[ix]
Maintenance and operation costs for the connected infrastructure roadside units and signals were noted as expected to be minimal. Typically, the cost to install a roadside unit at an existing traffic signal ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 including installation. On-board units to retrofit vehicles that are not currently connected cost $5,000 including installation. For more information about these projects and others around Ohio, visit https://www.33smartcorridor.com and https://drive.ohio.gov.
[i] Census 2010, http://data.census.gov
[ii] Union County-Marysville Economic Development/CIC (2020), https://www.33smartcorridor.com/
[iii] Personal communication with Mike Andrako, June 2019
[iv] Drive Ohio (2019) “Connected Marysville,” https://drive.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/driveohio/know-our-projects/projects/07-connected-marysville
[v] Personal communication with Mike Andrako, June 2019
[vi] Personal communication with Mike Andrako, June 2019
[vii] Personal communication with Mike Andrako, June 2019
[viii] Personal communication with Marc Dilsaver, May 2023
[ix] Union County CIC (2020). “Smart Mobility,” https://www.33smartcorridor.com/mobility
This report was delivered to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2020. It was primarily authored by NADO Program Manager Rachel Beyerle and NADO Associate Director Carrie Kissel. Many transportation agency staff and others assisted with this project in a variety of ways. We offer deep and heartfelt thanks to all the individuals who have provided information and images, consented to be interviewed, and offered editorial guidance in support of this research. This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation under requisition number HOIT190194PR. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. DOT or the NADO Research Foundation.
To read more about the report that contained this and other case studies, follow this link.