Carol Barker, P.E. of Jacobs has been awarded the WTS International Innovative Transportation Solutions Award for managing the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) SunTrax Connected and Autonomous (CAV) Test Facility planning project.

Carol Barker, P.E. of Jacobs
Carol Barker, P.E. of Jacobs

Located off Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa, SunTrax will be a large-scale, cutting-edge facility and proving ground dedicated to the research, development and testing of emerging transportation technologies in safe and controlled environments.
A member of the WTS Central Florida Chapter, Barker was recognized during the WTS International Conference in May in Boston.
After the design of a 2.25-mile oval track for toll equipment testing, FTE sought to develop the infield for transit, vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle testing with intentional flexibility and adaptability to differentiate SunTrax from other proving ground facilities located around the country. The secondary benefit of the project is to allow Florida Polytechnic Institute students to participate in the research, development and testing of cutting-edge technologies and advance other local STEM educational programs.
As project manager, with no template as a guide, Barker led the three-month planning phase of this autonomous vehicle test facility – the first of its kind in the nation.
“Planning and designing a test facility like SunTrax required FTE and its consultants to think outside the box,” said Christina Colon, WTS Central Florida Chapter president and FTE Director of Transportation Development. “Carol has demonstrated a proven track record for vetting innovative ideas and building consensus along the way, which proved invaluable during the research and master planning for this emerging technology test facility.”
Barker and her team conducted industry research, brainstorming exercises and creative workshops to develop analysis to establish industry need and gain understanding of CAV testing. In 2018, Barker delivered the final concept master plan with a specific outline for design and operations.
“Although it is an honor to be recognized amongst my peers and colleagues, it is even more of an honor to work alongside dedicated professionals who are committed to supporting and delivering the best product possible to our clients,” Barker said.
“FTE consistently works to advance mobility solutions that will make transportation in Florida safer and more efficient. I look forward to witnessing the project’s continued evolution and future success. SunTrax will certainly be a catalyst for innovation in Florida,” Barker added.
Subsequent to the planning phase of the project, FTE has advanced the infield design for ten autonomous vehicle test sectors. Construction will begin in August 2019 with a spring 2021 completion date.