Pittsburgh one of seven finalists for $50 million transportation grant
March 12, 2016 5:20 PM
By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh is one of seven cities that will compete for more than $50 million in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge.
The finalists, announced Saturday in Austin, Texas, were selected from among 78 applicants to receive $100,000 to refine their proposals before the winner is selected. The goal is to develop innovative, technology-based ideas such as self-driving cars to address mounting transportation and transit challenges in mid-size cities.
The other finalists are Austin; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Kansas City; Portland; and San Francisco. They have about a month to adjust their applications, and the winner will be named in June.
Pittsburgh and Allegheny County assembled their application by working with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority, as well as community and nonprofit groups.
“Smart Cities is not just about promoting the latest transportation and energy-related technology,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a news release.
“It’s about applying those efforts to improve the lives of everyday Pittsburghers by building smarter transit corridors and connections, bridging the digital divide and building greater equity in city neighborhoods, realizing the value of new energy opportunities, and reaching those impacted by displacement or isolation.”
Mr. Peduto is in Austin with CMU officials on a trip paid for by the university.
Existing work by the Traffic21 and Metro21 Initiatives at CMU and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center formed by the city, Allegheny County and Pitt leaves the city “well positioned” to move forward with its proposal, Mr. Peduto said. CMU President Subra Suresh said that work shows ”Pittsburgh holds the promise of becoming one of the most technologically progressive cities in the world.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he was ”thrilled” that Pittsburgh remains in the competition for the grant.
“This announcement puts us one step closer to receiving this award, which will provide us with resources to continue to reinvent and grow our region,” he said.
The Pittsburgh application proposes adaptive transportation systems to create ”smart spines” that gather transportation data using sensors in major transportation corridors. The city would use that information to develop new transportation options for underserved neighborhoods as well as improving safety and traveler information.
The goal is to position Pittsburgh as a test bed for future transportation technology and innovation through the universities and private sector.
The winner will get up to $40 million from the Department of Transportation, $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and $1 million in cloud service credits from Amazon Web Services. Amazon will work with the finalists to develop ways its system can work with their proposals.
Ed Blazina: email@example.com or 412-263-1470.
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