The city of Columbus, Ohio, has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation as the winner of its Smart City Challenge, beating out six other finalists to receive $50 million in funding to upgrade the city’s transportation system.
The funding will come from the federal government as well as a grant from Vulcan Inc. to develop intelligent transportation systems. The city beat out San Francisco, Austin, Portland, Kansas City, Denver and Pittsburgh, which were also vying for the funding.
In addition to the federal funding, a further $90 million has been pledged to the project by local businesses and universities, including Ohio State University, Battelle, American Electric Power, Honda and IBM.
The plan to improve Columbus’ transportation systems begins with its rapid transit bus service called CMAX. The city already has begun work on this project that will upgrade the bus system to smart, technologically advanced corridors in order to transport citizens from as far as the suburbs to the inner city. The bus line will feature a network of electronic signs, traffic signal priority, real-time bus arrival information and more. Columbus’ plan also calls for a proposed autonomous vehicle pilot deployment in the Easton area of the city in order to bring workers to its mass transit systems.
Another idea the city has planned is to make smart logistics available to trucks for real-time traffic conditions and routing data via a smartphone application in the Rickenbacker Inland Port, a high-speed, international, multimodal logistics hub that has the 7th-most active foreign trade zone in the U.S. Another proposal is to develop a smartphone application that will connect visitors to the city to specific events going on, as well as provide real-time information related to traffic, parking and transit options.
The plan also calls for an expansion of Columbus’ Smart Grid project, which will deploy more vehicle charging stations, convert more buses to compressed natural gas, and explore the use of electric vehicles and how to encourage adoption of these vehicles by citizens.
Finally, Columbus wants to connect certain neighborhoods that have limited access to jobs, health care and education services. The city wants to do this by increasing personal transit service offerings such as Uber and Car2Go, and by examining other mobility challenges in these urban areas.
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