The grant program that is offering state and local governments $500 million for projects that will utilize smart technologies to improve transportation will begin the awarding process this month.
The Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) – established under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – will allocate $100 million annually for fiscal years (FY) 2022-2026. The competition will award public sector agencies that demonstrate projects that are focused on cutting-edge technology that will improve transportation efficiency and safety.
The Department of Transportation (DoT) is requiring projects to involve coordinated automation, connected vehicles, sensors, systems integration, delivery or logistics, innovative aviation, smart grid, or traffic signals to be eligible to win the award.
Some examples of these requirements include autonomous vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems, or replacing outdated traffic signals. However, DoT will prioritize communities that target their real-world challenges where the use of new technologies and approaches can create benefits.
“We are incredibly focused on targeting problems that the community is trying to solve, where we know that there is just going to be a ton of energy, either at the transportation department or a transit agency, or a local government,” said Ben Levine, a senior advisor for research and technology at DoT, at Smart City Expo USA on Sept. 14 in Miami. “Where we’re sure that those kinds of investments also will lead to really transformative change.”
Those eligible to apply for the SMART funding include states, a political subdivision of states, and tribal entities as well as public transit agencies, public toll authorities, and metropolitan planning organizations.
Of the $1 million to be awarded every FY, 40 percent will go to communities with more than 400,000 residents, 30 percent will go to midsize communities, and the remaining 30 percent will be awarded to rural communities.
“I think the grand vision for this kind of a program is that we can seed ideas that then are cultivated or demonstrated locally and then can become sort of new methods that are taken on across the country,” Levine said.