The word Hokie resonates with any person who has ever stepped foot onto Virginia Tech’s campus or into Lane stadium. The visualization of a HokieBird rushing onto the football field and a university built of this foreign material called “Hokie Stone” comes to mind.
But to define a Hokie by these visualizations is certainly not sufficient, just ask any Hokie. The sense of community one takes away from Blacksburg never perishes. A Hokie embraces its community wherever that is or has become and upholds the university’s motto of Ut Prosim (that I may serve).
Thus, it only seems natural that a road lives in Blacksburg to serve the community in innovative ways no other road can. The research conducted on this road has been recognized internationally and has helped influence policies that help make all other roads safer.
The Smart Road is owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation and is managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, whose mission is to save lives, time, money, and the environment. A mission that, quite literally, demonstrates the Institute’s dedication to upholding our motto, that I may serve.
Construction of the Virginia Smart Road broke ground in 1997. It was the first (and still remains the only) road built from the ground up for research, quite a good fit for Virginia’s leading research institution, Virginia Tech.
Next to the road, resides the largest collective group of safety transportation researchers in the United States. This road has helped create over 350 jobs (and counting) in the New River Valley. This is the 25th year anniversary for VTTI which grown from one building to three and has recently honored its Director, Tom Dingus, at the White House as Champion of Change.
Anyone conducting transportation related research can use the road. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has clocked thousands of research hours since it opened. The road has weather making capabilities (rain, snow and fog), 12 different kinds of pavement, a variable lighting system and is built to federal and state specs – a one stop shop for transportation research.
The Smart Road has shown to be a job creator for the New River Valley, it has informed state and federal policies – reasons that demonstrate its dedication to serving the community in and beyond Blacksburg. While I am Hokie, a vessel upholding service to my community, I can proudly say – so is the Smart Road.
By Cecilia Elpi
Events/External Relations Coordinator, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute