Groundbreaking held for JTA’s Autonomous Innovation Center

May 30, 2024
The project, which includes partners Balfour Beatty Vision 2 Reality team and Beep, will construct a control center for the city’s electric and autonomous mobility system.

Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) held a groundbreaking ceremony on May 29 for its Autonomous Innovation Center (AIC) at LaVilla, which will serve as the command-and-control center for the electric and autonomous vehicles (AVs) in Jacksonville, Fla. 

The AIC is what could be described as an operations and maintenance facility. However, JTA says AIC is a better descriptor for the facility as it will be a hub where the authority’s electric and AV fleet will be stored, serviced, monitored and maintained, as well as where the Jacksonville community can gather. The AIC will be built with an open terrace that allows for guided tours and educational opportunities that showcase the program in-action with an optimal viewing area of the AVs arriving and departing the facility. Additionally, in partnership with LaVilla Heritage Trail & Gateways, an area outside of the secure perimeter will be provided along Bay Street for food trucks.

The AIC is a component of the first phase of JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program, the Bay Street Innovation Corridor (BSIC). The BSIC project will introduce autonomous vehicles along a transportation corridor in downtown Jacksonville. JTA explains establishing an innovative mobility network to connect a rapidly developing downtown with neighborhoods on both sides of the St. Johns River is a critical cornerstone to revitalizing the area. The U2C represents a way to accomplish this through an initiative that will modernize and expand transportation options and introduce Avs to the system. 

“The groundbreaking of the AIC is a culmination of hard work to provide the city of Jacksonville with enhanced connectivity through autonomous mobility at-scale,” said JTA CEO Nat Ford. “Throughout this project, JTA has leveraged its partners’ experience and expertise, and this groundbreaking is a visible symbol of our collective, forward-thinking progress. Today, we are one step closer in realizing our shared goal of providing a transportation network that is sustainable, adaptable and places Jacksonville as a city at the forefront of AV mobility.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.