The SMART Grants Program comes courtesy of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The SMART Grants Program comes courtesy of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Photo: U.S. DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it is accepting applications for two programs that will make approximately $160 million available annually for the next five years for projects that use technology to improve transportation infrastructure and make communities safer, according to the organization's news release.

The first program is the new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program. The SMART Grants Program comes courtesy of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. The program will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years and will fund projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities, according to U.S. DOT.

“As we undertake the most ambitious infrastructure investment in generations, thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can and must plan for the transportation needs of the future,” said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation secretary. “From connected vehicles that make driving safer to smart traffic signals that reduce congestion, to sensors to detect the quality of pavement to help prioritize repair, our SMART grants will fund technology that makes people’s lives better in communities across America.”       

U.S. DOT said the SMART program will fund innovation and focus on building data and technology capacity and expertise. According to the news release, the program seeks proposals from public sector entities that will  carry out demonstration projects in the following domains to address key transportation priorities: 

  • Vehicle technology, like automation and connectivity.
  • Systems innovation, like delivery and logistics, traffic signals, smart grid, and data integration.
  • And new ways to monitor and manage infrastructure, like sensors and UAS. 

“Achieving our transportation priorities related to safety, economic strength, equity, and climate requires bold investment in new technologies and approaches,” said Dr. Robert C. Hampshire, chief science officer at U.S. DOT.  “SMART supports a broad portfolio of projects across the country that will serve as beacons as we move toward a transportation system that is data-driven, values-based, and technology-enabled."    

The second is the Federal Highway Administration’s $60 million Advanced Transportation Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) program to promote advanced technologies to improve safety and reduce travel times for drivers and transit riders, according to U.S. DOT. As a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, ATTAIN-eligible projects will be evaluated on how they consider climate change and environmental justice impacts – including how they reduce transportation-related air pollution and address the disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged communities. The U.S. DOT said projects are evaluated on their economic impact and potential to create jobs.   

“As we level the playing field and improve the travel experience for everyone, we need to promote the use of state-of-the-art technologies, and the ATTAIN program does just that,” said Stephanie Pollack, acting federal highway administrator. “The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a program with a track record of delivering innovation through the use of advanced technologies and made it truly forward-looking by refocusing its goals to include promoting equity and tackling climate change, in addition to creating jobs and delivering positive economic impact.”

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