October 31, 2017
Small- and medium-sized communities would continue to have access to competitive grants and other resources to develop smart transportation systems that leverage technology under a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) on Friday.
Comstock’s STREET Act, which stands for the Smart Technology for Resilient, Efficient, Economic and Reliable Transportation in Cities and Communities Act, H.R. 4151, would build on the existing Department of Transportation (DOT) Smart City Challenge program by offering up to $100 million in grants to small and medium cities each year over a five-year period on a competitive basis.
Launched in December 2015, the Smart City Challenge encourages communities to leverage data, applications and technology to develop plans for innovative transportation systems that move people and goods more efficiently.
“Innovative technologies can affect real change in our daily lives,” Comstock said. The success of the DOT’s Smart City Challenge “turned an initial investment of $40 million into an additional $500 million in public and private funding to advance transportation technologies that help ease congestion and put these communities on a path toward transportation innovation that will ultimately grow the economy.”
The STREET Act, Comstock added, would establish a follow-up program to the Smart City Challenge that enables small- and medium-sized cities to “think outside the box for their transportation needs.”
“In Virginia’s 10th district, localities could look at ways to use new and emerging transportation technologies to help residents with congestion relief and to help solve other transportation challenges,” Comstock said. “CompTIA, the National Association of Counties and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association are among the supporters of the STREET Act, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation.”
A letter of support for the legislation from 11 groups, including the Smart Cities Council, said, “Addressing transportation-related challenges are always a top priority when it comes to making cities and communities more livable.”
Under the bill, the DOT would be directed to develop a Smart City and Community Resource Guide to help municipalities pursue federal support, and the Government Accountability Office would be instructed to research innovative funding solutions for smart transportation projects.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), who introduced the bipartisan bill with Comstock, said the Smart City Challenge is popular because it enables communities to use data, technology and creativity to find solutions to transportation challenges.
“Working together to spur innovation that improves the way we move people, goods and information helps create vibrant communities where families want to live and businesses want to invest,” Esty said.
The legislation also supports National Institute of Standards and Technology model standards for smart cities to encourage interoperability of community devices and systems.
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