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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Overview | Projects



Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory


The Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory (Saxton Laboratory) is a national asset at the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. The Saxton Laboratory serves not only as a laboratory but also as a gateway where Federal, contractor, and student researchers can experience a collaboration of ideas and experiences.

The Saxton Laboratory is comprised of three testbeds: a Data Resources Testbed (DRT), a Concepts and Analysis Testbed, and a Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Testbed (CVHT). The three testbeds within the Saxton Laboratory help FHWA fulfill multiple operations research missions. For example, a test requirement might be conceived through an Exploratory Advance Research (EAR) scan, have fundamental technology capabilities validated through tests at the CVHT, have the data needed for proof of concept assembled through the DRT, have the concept of operation validated and benefits assessed though microscopic simulation at the Concepts and Analysis Testbed (CAT), and then have the concept field validated at a connected vehicles testbed or on a highway facility of a State or local Government partner.

The laboratory enables FHWA to validate and refine new transportation services and technologies before committing to larger scale research, development, testing, and deployment phases. The Saxton Laboratory also provides a unique venue for outreach of the innovative service concepts and technologies, in that technology transfer can be supported through first-hand knowledge of the technologies and physical examination of prototype systems and simulations of concepts of operations.

Data Resources Testbed (DRT)

The DRT provides researchers with access to live and archived multisource transportation data to support transportation system performance measurement and transportation system management applications. This multisource data includes data from traditional roadway sensors; data from vehicle probes, including the detailed data available from vehicles equipped with connected vehicles technologies; data from personal mobile devices; and data from transit and freight operators. The testbed  assembles and archives data, hosts traffic datasets, analyzes operations and performance, provides advanced visualization tools to improve situational awareness, and aids strategic program and tactical operations decisionmaking. The testbed will host data from a variety of sources to support transportation system performance measurement and transportation system management. The testbed provides the data environment and resources needed by internal and external researchers to develop and test new cooperative services under the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) research initiatives.

Concepts and Analysis Testbed (CAT)

The CAT incorporates a repository of transportation models at the macroscopic, mesoscopic, and microscopic levels to allow simulation runs and visualizations of representative traffic networks and experimental strategies to improve performance, including measures of safety (to some extent), mobility, and environmental performance. The testbed also provides a repository of authoritative and representative model application datasets that enable technical and performance measures to be compared in realistic scenarios and across projects, regardless of partner and perhaps even choice of model platform, so that valid assessments can be made.

The testbed allows FHWA research staff to refine the experimental strategies through direct interaction with the models and to determine the potential value of potential strategies to various stakeholders. The outputs of simulation analyses can, for example, provide an authoritative basis for conducting benefit/cost analyses of experimental strategies. The testbed and its resources can be used by consultants supporting FHWA research projects, and other onsite or external researchers, to improve the consistency, quality, efficiency, transparency, and availability of research results and U.S. Government deliverables. The testbed also provides a venue for hosting technical and outreach meetings at which the above results could be reviewed and discussed by producers, FHWA research staff, other U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) staff, and stakeholders.

Cooperative Vehicle-Highway Testbed (CVHT)

The CVHT enables FHWA to explore the enabling technologies for Connected Vehicles and to assess the potential of new transportation services based upon cooperative communication. The CVHT leverages previous investments by the USDOT in the intelligent intersection and can encourage additional investments by FHWA, the ITS Program, and others in facilities, equipment, and services that will enable the CVHT to support critical research priorities and projects. The facilities, equipment, staff support, and other resources of the CVHT enable FHWA researchers to develop prototypes, install systems in the infrastructure and on vehicles, and conduct tests directed to investigate and answer key research questions needed to further the research efforts. The CVHT initially uses existing facilities at the TFHRC, including service roads that allow access to the intelligent intersection, but the need to conduct more extensive tests, including service concepts involving various stages of vehicle control and automation, may eventually require additional specialized test track facilities at TFHRC and the use of public roads as living laboratories for experiments.


Office of Operations R&D Links

» Office of Operations R&D
» Operations R&D Laboratory
» Operations R&D Projects
» Operations R&D Experts
» Operations R&D Publications
» Operations Topics


Laboratory Manager

Ferlis, Robert A (Bob)

Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296


Other Operations Links

» FHWA's Office of Operations
» Research and Innovative Technology Administration's Intelligent Transportation Systems Connected Vehicle Research
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000