The maximum award per project was $2,000,000 for this round of funding.  -  Photo: USDOT

The maximum award per project was $2,000,000 for this round of funding.

Photo: USDOT

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the first round of grants totaling over $94 million for 59 projects across the country through the new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program.

The competitive grant program, established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides state, local, and tribal governments $500 million over five years to leverage technology to create safer, more equitable, efficient, and innovative transportation systems, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's news release.

"Every major advancement in the history of U.S. transportation has involved technological progress,” said Buttigieg. “The investments we are making today are about fostering innovations that improve people’s day-to-day lives, making transportation safer, more reliable, more efficient, and more sustainable.”

The funding will support an array of topics and communities: 

  • Five State DOTs are working on projects that will improve safety for workers and drivers in work zones, including a multi-state collaboration that will deploy Automated Truck-Mounted Crash Attenuators, and projects that will leverage the Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) Specification. Additionally, over a dozen other SMART projects address worker safety.
  • A number of projects will help improve transit reliability, speed, and fare payment. Projects in Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, and New York will focus on transit innovation with investments in data integration, transit incentives, and accessibility tools. 
  • The city of Cleveland and others will demonstrate smart traffic signal technologies including Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures and transit and emergency vehicle signal priority.
  • Cities across the U.S. including Buffalo, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Portland will leverage sensors and data to help cities understand and improve curb management practices by allocating their curb space to best serve local businesses, facilitate deliveries, and integrate with transit and active transportation.
  • Communities in Maine, Colorado, and Massachusetts will focus on smart grid projects to prepare their communities for more widespread adoption of electric vehicles including cars, buses, aircraft, and ground vehicles at airports. 
  • Sensor deployments will enable new data collection and operational approaches, ranging from a flood warning system in Harris County, Texas, to crash detection in Nashville, to improved safety at Seattle’s at-grade rail crossings.
  • Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) projects will leverage innovative aviation technology for infrastructure inspections in Alaska, California, and Kansas, as well as medical package deliveries along Virginia’s Eastern Shore and in the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation.
  • The Michigan Department of Transportation and Whatcom Council of Governments will integrate sensors and data to facilitate commerce at international border crossings, strengthening supply chains, reducing delays, and minimizing congestion impacts in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.
  • Connected vehicle projects in states including Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Utah will deploy connectivity demonstrations that focus on topics like transit prioritization and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The first year of the program was oversubscribed with $6 of applications for every $1 available for grants.

“We are thrilled to see the interest in SMART during its inaugural year. This shows the important role this new program can play in helping support state, local, and tribal efforts to advance technology applications,” said Dr. Robert C. Hampshire, chief science officer.

The maximum award per project was $2,000,000 for this round of funding. The next funding opportunity of $100 million is expected to be released in fall 2023.

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