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Senator: Columbus, Ohio wins DoT’s Smart City Challenge

$40 million in Smart City Challenge funding to support transportation

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown on Tuesday said Columbus, Ohio, was the winner of the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge; the winning city is set to receive $40 million in federal dollars plus another $10 million from Vulcan Industries to implement innovative transportation solutions.

However, officials with the DoT and city of Columbus, haven’t confirmed Brown’s claim. In a prepared statement, the two-term senator said, “This funding is a game changer for the City of Columbus and central Ohio. I’m glad the Department of Transportation recognized what so many of us already know – Columbus is a smart city that deserves to win this challenge. Columbus’ skilled and diverse workforce, state-of-the-art research institutions, and strong-public-private partnerships will help this project succeed. I look forward to working with local leaders and community members to realize the vision of a first-of-its-kind transportation service that increases access to jobs, links neighborhoods, and improves real-time information in a sustainable, safe way.”

DoT launched the Smart City Challenge in December and describes it “as an innovative competition for cities to reshape their transportation systems harnessing the power of technology, data and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout cities. Seventy-eight cities submitted entries to the competition, and in March, seven finalists were selected.”

Representatives from those seven finalist cities–Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Denver, Austin, Texas, Portland, Ore., Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus–were in Washington D.C., earlier this year to make their final pitches.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the $50 million would be a catalyst to a further $90 million in potential funding from private sector partners.

Columbus’ Smart City Challenge grant application considers the following mobility solutions:

  • An autonomous vehicle circulator to address first mile/last mile challenges from the Easton Transit Center to Easton employers.
  • Enhanced traveler information through kiosks, broadband connectivity and smart intersections along the new CMAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor from Polaris to Downtown.
  • Development of real-time event, transit, traffic and parking information for visitors and residents created with Experience Columbus.
  • Enable all citizens to have access and be able pay for all the transportation options in our city with a smartphone or pass.
  • Expanding smart grid to other parts of the city, expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure, beginning converting the light duty city fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) and creating programs and incentives for energy efficiency, transportation electrification, and greenhouse gas reduction that is environmentally and financially sustainable.

And, while DoT did not confirm Brown’s statement today, it did release a statement saying it would support all seven finalist cities in implementing proposals set forth in the Smart City Challenge.

“Each of our finalist cities has demonstrated incredible vision and creativity in developing meaningful plans to use technology to improve the lives of their citizens and create a truly smart city,” said DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “There has been a remarkable spirit of cooperation as these cities moved through the competition, and working together with our partners, we are excited to help empower all seven finalists to move forward in creating smart cities.”

In this clip, filmed during the finalist city pitch sessions, Foxx provides some commentary on the goals of the funding initiative.


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