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UDOT to “Connect the West” with major federal grant

$20 million grant to allow UDOT to continue innovating new technologies that will save lives and increase mobility

Today the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) a $20 million grant to connect the west with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology.

This technology uses sensors and wireless connectivity so vehicles can connect to and communicate with drivers and their surroundings to enhance road safety, mobility, and efficiency.

The USDOT is focused on advancing connected and interoperable vehicle technologies, and this grant will help UDOT, the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and other local partners create a seamless and reliable connected network.

“Utah is a leader in promoting and deploying V2X technologies to explore the potential to save lives on our nation’s highways,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “The funding provided today will help accelerate the technology so that we can deploy it on a national scale and provide new tools to reduce fatalities on our nation’s highways.”

Creating connectivity across state lines will provide better information to drivers about sharp curves, adverse weather conditions, and road closures. It will help plow operators clear roads faster, identify the location of vulnerable road users so crashes can be prevented, and provide driver warnings about work zones and disabled vehicles. V2X technology will also improve bus service reliability, reduce idling at intersections and improve freight safety.

“We see this as a potential inflection point in transportation, especially for safety,” UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said. “With this technology, we will be able to save more lives sooner. We look forward to working with our partners as we expand this connected network beyond the borders of our state.”

Utah built the first operational connected vehicle corridor in the nation along Redwood Road. Buses equipped with special radios “talk” to the traffic signals along these roads, and if the bus is running behind schedule, the signal can extend the length of the green light – all without any action taken by the bus driver.

And in 2019, UDOT partnered with Panasonic Corporation of North America to develop one of the nation’s most advanced transportation data networks.

This partnership positioned Utah as a pioneer in implementing the incoming wave of smart vehicles that are more connected, more autonomous, and able to operate more safely and efficiently. Communication among vehicles as well as the infrastructure – including signs, signals, and other sensors – will improve safety and mobility on the road by sharing data in real time.

The USDOT has a goal to have 25 percent of the signalized intersections in the top 75 metro areas in the U.S. equipped with V2X technology. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area (the 47th largest in the country) already has 20 percent of its signals equipped, and construction is scheduled this year to finish the remaining 5 percent to reach that goal.

And because of the state’s extensive fiber optic network (including 2,700 miles of fiber in both urban and rural areas), nearly all of the traffic signals in Utah are connected (96 percent).

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