By Kathy L. Collins

If you commute into downtown Tampa and use the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, you may have seen a sign advertising the The Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot is a pilot project which seeks to connect vehicles, pedestrians and transit vehicles in an innovative communication technology which will improve safety and traffic conditions on the expressway and select roads in downtown Tampa.

The Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot is a four-year effort that began in 2015. Tampa is one of just three sites in the nation to be selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program. The program seeks to spur innovation among early adopters of connected vehicle applications. The other two sites are in New York City and the Interstate 80 corridor in Wyoming.

Drivers and pedestrians are being sought to participate in the pilot program. Participants’ vehicles will be outfitted with a rearview mirror that can provide audio or visual messages to drivers and an inboard device and antennae that connects the vehicle to roadside units. The installed equipment tracks speed, braking distance and other driver data to help improve safety on the road.

In exchange for participating, drivers receive a 30 percent discount on tolls on the Expressway.

Participants will be trained in the use of the equipment. Moreover, the installations will be done by students at HCC’s Training Campus at the Brandon Campus. They will be the first in the nation to learn how to install the equipment.

Pedestrians are also sought for the project. The data sought from pedestrians will help to coordinate things such as signal timing.

Rob Boelke with the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is the Outreach and Training Manager for the project. Boelke said, “This is the first step before you get to autonomous (self-driving) cars. Vehicles have to be able to communicate with one another in order for this type of technology to work.”

Boelke added, “Tampa is being very progressive. We recognize that we have a lot of vehicles on the road, and we have to develop the infrastructure necessary for autonomous vehicles.”

For more information and to sign up for this innovative pilot program, please visit

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