Construction for a new test track in Polk County is scheduled to begin early next year.

  • Polk County will be the home of a 400-acre test track
  • Officials say construction will start in spring 2017
  • The approx. $40 mil. project is being funded by toll road taxes

Called “Suntrax,” the state-of-the-art facility will develop and test tolling technologies, intelligent transportation systems, and automated and connected vehicles.

Florida Department of Transportation is teaming up with Florida Polytechnic University to develop the facility.

“This is a huge deal," said Florida Secretary of Transportation Jim Buxold. "It’s an exciting partnership. Technology is changing our lives in every other way, and our cars are changing too. It’s important to keep pace with that."

According to officials, this partnership means students and professors will have a chance to research and learn through emerging technology.

“The technology associated with autonomous and connected vehicles is very similar to the technology we have here at the university, and it’s a great opportunity for students and faculty,” said Florida Polytechnic University President Dr. Randy Avent.

Polk County's available acreage, and proximity to Orlando, made it an ideal site for Suntrax.

The artist renderings of the project show two tracks. The outside track will be used for cars to test advanced tolling method technology. The interior test track will be for autonomous and connected vehicles.

There's a simulated city inside the track, where cars can be tested in real-life conditions without having to shut down actual roadways.  

“There is currently not a test track in the country that will provide this opportunity. It will put Florida at the leading edge,” said Buxold.

It will cost around $40 million. Officials say it will be paid for using toll money. Construction is set to begin spring of 2017.