As part of the new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttiegieg has announced $94 million in grants for dozens of projects to improve transit and safety across the country.
“Every major advancement in the history of U.S. transportation has involved technological progress,” Buttigieg said in a news release. “The investments we are making today are about fostering innovations that improve people’s day-to-day lives, making transportation safer, more reliable, more efficient, and more sustainable.”
Funding for the grants was provided through the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021.
The money will go toward an array of projects throughout the U.S. — from traffic signals and “hands free, eyes free alerts” for motorists to drone technology to inspect infrastructure.
The first year of the program saw applications requesting $6 of funding for every $1 available from grant money, Transportation officials say.
“We are thrilled to see the interest in SMART during its inaugural year. This shows the important role this new program can play in helping support State, local, and Tribal efforts to advance technology applications,” Dr. Robert C. Hampshire, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer, said in the release.
Transportation projects were not the only goal under the infrastructure bill, which sought to make substantial capital investments in building out a national network of electric vehicle charging stations, as well as expanding passenger rail service and helping the nation make a hard pivot to green technology.
The SMART projects is a demonstration program, so the grant funding will not be used for research. Systems and technologies that are eligible for funding must be ready for deployment, according to a government fact sheet.
“The SMART Program will support a range of approaches: new transportation applications of existing and emerging technologies; expanded and systematized use of proven technologies; and deep integration of solutions with existing transportation systems,” the fact sheet says.
Funding for the program is $100 million per year for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.