Kennesaw State Awarded Grant to Research, Develop Advanced Interstate Tolling System

Abbey O’Brien Barrows

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Faculty members at Kennesaw State University are embarking on a four-year project to develop a connected vehicle system for the Atlantic City Expressway in New Jersey, thanks to a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

The grant is part of an $8.74 million award to the South Jersey Transportation Authority and is the largest award to date for Kennesaw State’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The goal of the project is to transform the Atlantic City Expressway into a smart and connected corridor using cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology, which uses either direct communication or conventional cellular networks, similar to 5G technology in cell phones.

“This is a large, collaborative effort that will modernize how drivers in the United States use tolls,” said Ian Ferguson, dean of the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. “It’s especially exciting that faculty members from civil engineeringcomputer engineering and electrical engineering, as well as other universities and government agencies, will use their expertise to address this need.”

Kennesaw State is more than 600 miles from New Jersey, but a connection through transportation engineering systems sparked the partnership. Assistant professor of civil engineering Parth Bhavsar previously taught at Rowan University in New Jersey and has remained close with the director of its Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATES). Kennesaw State is working with Rowan University, Clemson University, the University of Alabama and West Virginia University on this project.

“This is the future,” said Sunanda Dissanayake, chair of KSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an internationally renowned traffic expert. “We have to be smart about transportation because the systems we have now will someday be insufficient.”

Bhavsar will lead Kennesaw State’s team of researchers to develop technology that will eventually remove the need for toll booths and stickers, like Georgia’s Peach Pass.

“Your car will be equipped with technology that will communicate with infrastructure devices and other vehicles,” Bhavsar explained. “This is important for anyone who drives because we can use this technology to decrease travel times and plan for the future of autonomous vehicles.”

The U.S. DOT wants the primary focus of the project to be deploying and evaluating compatible technology to support future connected and automated vehicles traveling on the Atlantic City Expressway (ACE). Bhavsar said his team will also develop an “infrastructure in-loop” for the entire length of the ACE, which will allow future researchers to gather travel data collected along the expressway and test new algorithms.

In addition, Kennesaw State researchers will develop pavement distress detection modules to monitor pavement performance over time, and the Burruss Institute will assist with user-perception surveys. Other faculty members involved in the project are research assistant professor of computer engineering Billy Kihei, associate professor of computer science and Director of Research Computing Ramazan Aygun, and associate professor of electrical engineering and Graduate Program Coordinator Sumit Chakravarty.

“The U.S. DOT also wants the team to perform a cost-benefit analysis to track where taxpayer money is going and the future return on investment,” Bhavsar said.

The research team will work on developing this technology over the next two years, while the third and fourth years will be for deployment and evaluation. They hope this technology can serve as a model to use around the country in the future.