Merced County Times Newspaper
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Automotive technology testing site expanding footprint at Castle


Earlier this month, Merced County started construction on a $2.1 million expansion of the automotive research and testing site at Castle Commerce Center.

The new site will offer vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and innovators a variety of test areas that will replicate real-world highway, rural and urban scenarios. Autonomous vehicle technologies and electrification will be two primary focuses of the facility.

The 225-acre site formerly known as the “California AutoTech Testing and Development Center” has been renamed to “TRC California.” Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC Inc.), an Ohio-based leader in automotive testing and innovation, has led the design of the facility improvements and took over operations of the site on May 1, 2021.

“This site embodies the future of transportation, and these technology developments are taking place right in our backyards,” said Chairman Daron McDaniel of the Merced County Board of Supervisors, whose district includes the TRC California at Castle. “This project represents real- time job growth and economic development, with enormous potential as it continues to grow.”

Under a contract awarded to Central Valley-based Avision Construction, the current phase of the project includes construction of TRC California’s 2.2-mile high-speed test track, installation of privacy fencing along the perimeter, assembly and placement of vehicle barriers, modification of pavement markers, and improvements to onsite infrastructure to increase the safety, confidentiality, security and capabilities of the test facility. Central Valley-based Precision Civil Engineering is providing engineering and construction management to the project.

Work on this phase is expected to be completed by November 1, 2021. Construction will temporarily impact small portions of the facility while other areas remain open for testing. Other activities on the site include work on a control building and workshop, and installation of test equipment, with a total project budget of $6.5 million—funding that was secured by Assemblyman Adam Gray through the California State Transportation Agency.

TRC California has already attracted a number of companies that are actively testing at the facility, and a full-time proving ground director and operations manager have been appointed to assist clients with their engineering and technical needs.

TRC California’s facilities and specialist staffing will continue to expand in the near future as officials complete the build-out of additional testing capabilities and services, especially those geared toward research on autonomous and connected vehicles. Included will be additional roadway complexes, road surfaces, and intersections all designed for testing advanced transportation technologies, including driver-assistance systems, in a safe, secure and repeatable real-world environment.

“We are excited to begin this dramatic new chapter in Merced County’s progress as a focal point for testing and research by the West Coast’s technology-based industries, start-ups and independent innovators,” said Mark Hendrickson, Merced County’s Director of Community and Economic Development. “Advances developed here at TRC California will help make transportation safer, more efficient and more environmentally responsible.”

That enthusiasm was echoed by Brett Roubinek, president and CEO of TRC Inc.

“We are building out TRC California to offer a comprehensive, one-stop shop where automotive technology and mobility innovators can test and affirm the performance, safety, quality and competitiveness of new technologies that are changing the face of transportation worldwide,” Roubinek said. “TRC is proud to partner with Merced County in this transformation.”

For more information about the TRC site, please visit

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