The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has been adding smart technology along the state’s highways and interstates for several years now.
Over the past two decades, TDOT has installed Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and communication infrastructure consisting of nearly 400 miles of fiber optic cable, 551 CCTV cameras, 183 dynamic message signs, and four traffic management centers.
But a recent $11.2 million federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant is expected to add another 143 miles of fiber along Interstate 40 between Nashville and Memphis. The project is currently under development, with construction expected to begin in late 2021.
State officials say the primary goals of the I-40 Smart Fiber Project will save lives and improve safety along Tennessee roadways. It is also helping lay the foundation for autonomous cars. But there are additional benefits for some Tennessee Broadband Association members and their communities that cannot be overlooked.
The project is expected to boost economic development along the I-40 corridor by laying the foundation for future public-private partnerships with telecommunications firms that could improve broadband access in nine economically distressed and several at-risk counties within proximity of fiber optics on I-40 between Nashville and Memphis.
The state will allow broadband providers to lease access to their I-40 fiber network, which will eliminate the need for providers to build additional or redundant networks.
The smart infrastructure is expected to decrease serious injury and fatal crashes through real-time alerts such as work zone locations, traffic crash and queue locations, weather alerts, and traffic signal information.
This project will also deploy cutting-edge connected vehicle technology and other smart infrastructure that will modernize Tennessee’s roadways for current and future vehicles and support future automated trucks and automated passenger vehicles.
We cannot stress enough how critically important connectivity is to this vital corridor in our state.