The City of Falls Church and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, are collaborating to develop a Smart City test bed on and adjacent to the university’s campus off Haycock Road in Northern Virginia.

The biennial budget recently approved by the General Assembly includes $10 million to support the project, a request submitted and championed by Sen. Dick Saslaw.

“I’m pleased to see Virginia Tech and the City of Falls Church coming together on this smart infrastructure project because I know it will lead to improvements in the quality of life for our community, and greater efficiency and sustainability,” Saslaw said.

City of Falls Church Mayor P. David Tarter echoed Saslaw’s excitement about the project.

“The city is delighted to partner with Virginia Tech on the Smart City technology program that will bring cutting-edge transportation solutions to Falls Church, including support for autonomous vehicles, adaptive lighting, and parking garage utilization indicators. These solutions will reduce pollution and traffic congestion and improve public safety,” Tarter said. “We are excited that the Virginia General Assembly included $10M in the recent budget, and appreciative to Senator Saslaw for his efforts to bring this important program to the city.”

Myra Blanco, director of advancements, partnerships and outreach at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, said this test bed will be unique in Virginia because it will utilize multiple smart technology components.

“We will be working with the city and their development partners to advise on sensor deployment and then be using our tools and expertise to develop ‘the brain’ — or central hub — that will process all of the data and develop solutions that could create cost efficiencies for the city and benefiting citizens through efficiency, safety, and response improvements,” Blanco said.

VTTI is widely recognized as a world leader in transportation safety research and analysis using a range of tools that include the Virginia Smart Roads, the Virginia Connected Corridors, and data acquisition systems.

“We hope it will be developed into a 'plug and play' lab where technology companies can come to test their projects and it can be a steppingstone to deploying similar technologies in other areas,” Blanco said.

The test bed will include a new road bisecting the Virginia Tech Falls Church campus, connecting Virginia Route 7 to the West Falls Church Washington Metro Area Transit Authority site and the surrounding West Falls Church development.

Gov. Ralph Northam must still sign the budget. The General Assembly will reconvene April 7 to consider any amendments or other actions proposed by the governor.