(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-MI, and Russ Carnahan, D-MO, have introduced a new smart transportation technology bill (H.R. 995) into the House that would give six cities the opportunity to share in $1.2 billion dollars—as long as the money is used to fund innovative transportation technologies.
Cities would have to compete for the grants, which would be paid out over five years. “For far too long these great ideas about intelligent transportation have been sitting on the shelf, but have not been actually implemented into our national transportation strategy,” said Carnahan. “This, I think, is a very big step to get these technologies off the shelf and into American communities so we can really show their value.”
The SMART Technologies for Communities Act, which was discussed during today’s House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, would establish pilot programs in selected cities, where innovative tech solutions would be deployed and tested, such as electronic toll collection, vehicle to vehicle communication systems, and real-time traffic information applications. The goal would be to see whether these intelligent transportation systems (ITS) save money, reduce congestion and traffic collisions, and improve the overall quality of the city’s transportation system.
Intelligent Transportation Society of America CEO Scott Belcher gave testimony on the bi-partisan bill at today’s hearing. “I feel that it resonated with them,” said Belcher during a media conference call after the hearing. “And it’s clear . . . that there’s a strong desire from communities in urban and rural areas to help bring transportation innovation on a large scale. It’s time to move from research to deployment.”
Belcher says the program would provide “viable and cost-effective solutions.”
“Cash-strapped cities and communities are challenged with addressing growing traffic congestion and deteriorating infrastructure at the same time as Americans are facing rising gas prices. We cannot continue business as usual.”
Belcher says, Houston would be a good candidate for the program because it's one of the largest, fastest growing cities in America, with "some of the worst congestion in the country."
The bill has support from car manufacturers (Ford, Volvo), transportation organizations (Transportation for America, International Road Federation), environmental groups (Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Environmental Defense Fund), and companies such as AT&T and Microsoft.
Read the bill in its entirety here.
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