The policy would have placed Ohio’s Transportation Research Center (TRC)---the largest and most sophisticated independent vehicle proving ground in North America---at a competitive disadvantage for certain partnership and funding opportunities that are important to the development of safe and effective regulations for this emerging technology. Portman had been advocating for the change, including sending a letter in July with his Ohio delegation colleagues urging Secretary Chao to change the previous administration’s policy.
In January 2017, on the final day of the Obama administration, then-Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx released a list of 10 sites to be designated automated vehicle (AV) proving grounds. The previous administration purportedly set out to designate these proving grounds in order to advance shared, national goals concerning the safe deployment of automated vehicles. However, Senator Portman was critical of this last-minute policy announcement because Ohio’s Transportation Research Center was notably omitted from this group.
Senator Portman released the following statement praising Secretary Chao for reconsidering the previous administration’s policy:
“Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation should be able to determine its partners for testing this new technology based on merit, not favoritism, and I commend them for leveling the playing field with this announcement. TRC’s decades of vehicle testing and wealth of relevant expertise are second-to-none, and the Department of Transportation should be able to partner with them if they choose. It’s in our shared interest to work together to create the safest, most effective AV policies that promote American industry and protect human life. I am confident that there is no better place to find a partner in this mission than the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty.”