FHWA Awards Grant Supporting AV Truck Project at Port of Virginia

Port of Virginia
The Port of Virginia received $2.1 million to assist in efforts to make the terminal “autonomous truck ready,” according to FHWA’s announcement. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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The Federal Highway Administration recently awarded $49.6 million to support projects that incorporate transportation-related technologies, including an effort to develop autonomous truck accommodations at the Port of Virginia.

FHWA announced the grant awards Dec. 31. The funding was awarded through the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program, which funds the early deployments of technologies that are meant to improve transportation systems.

The Virginia Port Authority’s grant, which totals $2.1 million, will assist in efforts to make the terminal “autonomous truck ready,” according to FHWA’s announcement. Specifically, the goal is to develop a proof of concept using an autonomous truck to access the terminals and deliver and receive containers.



Located in the Hampton Roads area, the Port of Virginia generates major traffic. Its leading exports include mineral fuels, wood, plastics and iron.

“The extensive technology already integrated into our terminals uniquely qualifies Virginia to take a leadership role that will shape the vision of how marine terminals will handle the exchange of containers between semi-automated terminal equipment and intelligent over-the-road vehicles,” port Executive Director John Reinhart said. “This industry is evolving, and our goal is to be at the forefront of change and innovation to help us deliver efficiency, customer service and sustainability.”

RELATED: See the list of projects

The funding for the Virginia Port Authority represents one of 10 grants announced Dec. 31. The funds distributed through this round of grants support projects that use intelligent transportation systems technology to improve mobility and support vehicle connectivity.

RELATED: West and East Coast Ports Report Strong November Volume

“This $49.6 million in grant funding will support innovative solutions to improve connectivity and help prepare America’s transportation systems for the future,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.



Some $9.29 million was awarded to the San Diego Association of Governments. Antoinette Meier, director of mobility and innovation at SANDAG, said the project will involve deploying intelligent transportation solutions such as smart intersections, on-demand ride-share services, connected vehicle technologies and improved traveler information resources at border crossing points. Meier indicated the border area suffers from “crippling congestion,” costing the U.S. and Mexican economies billions of dollars annually.

In addition to ports of entry, the project’s scope will include Chula Vista, National City, downtown San Diego and the corridors and transit services that link the border to these communities. The project represents a partnership between SANDAG, the California Department of Transportation, the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista, transit and port representatives, and private sector partners.


Trucks sit at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“We selected these areas because they are popular destinations for people and goods that are traveling from the border region,” Meier told Transport Topics. “This allows us to address the complete trip, creating that seamless travel experience from end to end.”

The largest individual grant, for $9.95 million, was awarded to the University of Michigan to develop a network of smart intersections in Ann Arbor. The project will rely on connected and automated vehicle technology that allows vehicles and infrastructure to interact.

The Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program was created under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act of 2015. The projects supported by the program are meant to improve travel for commuters, reduce congestion and serve as national models for other states and metropolitan areas.


In this year in review episode, we discuss COVID and everything from gas tax to remote work. With the help of our special Transport Topics guests, Seth Clevenger and Eleanor Lamb, we’ll also begin to map a plan for 2021. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

For this round of funding, FHWA evaluated 46 applications requesting about $205 million.

“The program selections this year look to the future to help ensure that our nation’s highway network is able to accommodate the many advanced technologies on the horizon,” Federal Highway Administrator Nicole Nason said.

State departments of transportation, local government groups, transit agencies and metropolitan planning organizations are eligible to apply for funds. Since its inception, the program has supplied $256 million to more than 45 projects.

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