US DOT announces US$160m in funding for smart transportation tech programs


The US Department of Transportation (US DOT) has announced that it is accepting applications for two programs that will make approximately US$160m available annually for the next five years for projects that use technology to improve transportation infrastructure and make communities safer.

First, the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grants program has been made possible thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. The program will offer up to US$100m in grants annually over the next five years and will fund projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities today.

“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 US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“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,” he added.

The SMART program will fund purpose-driven innovation and focus on building data and technology capacity and expertise. 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, deputy assistant secretary for research and technology and chief science officer at US 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.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration’s US$60m Advanced Transportation Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) program promotes advanced technologies to improve safety and reduce travel times for drivers and transit riders and that can serve as national examples.

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. In addition, projects will be 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 acting Federal Highway administrator Stephanie Pollack. “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.”

The SMART Notice of Funding (NOFO) is open now and can be found here. Applications must be submitted by 5:00pm EDT on Friday, November 18, 2022. Eligible entities are state, local, and tribal governments and agencies.

The ATTAIN NOFO can be found here. State departments of transportation, local governments, transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and other eligible entities are invited to apply. Applications must be submitted by Friday, November 18, 2022.

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