Columbus eyes $40m grant to build smart transport

Columbus, Ohio is considering throwing its hat in the ring for the $40 million federal Smart City Challenge that will transform the city into a next generation transportation concern.

As reported in GovTech.com, Columbus is weighing a bid for the U.S. Department of Transport’s $40 million Smart City grant. The winning city will use the money for developing advance technologies to improve the environmental impacts of travel and to reduce congestion.

If the city wins the federal challenge, Columbus would also get an additional $10 million from Vulcan Inc. for electric vehicle projects.

Columbus is among seven cities that are finalists for the grant, including Pittsburgh, Penn. which is hoping to leverage the grant to build a $100 million smart city fund if it wins. As part of the challenge, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is visiting all seven cities contending for the grant.

“We want to see what we invest in work,” said Foxx from Columbus on Monday. “We’re really looking at what you want to accomplish and how well suited you are to get there and what difference our investment will make here versus someplace else and whether we get more distance out of that investment here.”

Columbus – a midwestern Silicon Valley?

The city will need to have submitted its application by this past Friday. Regardless of the federal contest, city leaders say Columbus was already examining the potential for self-driving cars, electric vehicles and transport-related payment systems.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has even gone so far as to say that the city has aspirations to become “the Silicon Valley of intelligent transportation systems.”

Meanwhile, other politicians are throwing their weight behind a Columbus Smart City Challenge bid, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“I think Columbus has an advantage,” said Brown. “Columbus is really sort of every person’s city in this country. If it works in Columbus, it works, we know that. We’ve been a test center for so many corporations.”

The U.S. Department of Transport says it plans to announce the winning city at the end of June.

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