Portman Applauds $100 Million Made Available for Smart Transportation Technology, Spurring American Innovation and Competitiveness

New SMART Program Made Available Through Portman’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

September 20, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded the announcement by the Department of Transportation that it had begun accepting applications for the SMART Grants Program, made possible by Portman’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last November. This program will make approximately $100 million available annually for the next five years to support projects that use technology to improve our transportation infrastructure.

“The SMART program will help spur American innovation and bring about cutting edge infrastructure projects,” said Portman. “This is just one more resource that will strengthen our nation’s infrastructure that is made possible by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. I encourage all those eligible to apply to do so immediately so they may have access to this new funding.”

The new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years and will fund projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities today. The SMART program will fund purpose-driven innovation and focus on building data and technology capacity and expertise. The program seeks proposals from public sector entities that will carry out demonstration projects in the following domains to address key transportation priorities: Vehicle technology, like automation and connectivity; systems innovation, like delivery and logistics, traffic signals, smart grid, and data integration; and new ways to monitor and manage infrastructure, like sensors and drones. The SMART Notice of Funding (NOFO) is open now.

The SMART Grant program is modeled off Portman’s legislation with Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV), Burr (R-NC), and Sinema (D-AZ), the Moving and Fostering Innovation to Revolutionize Smarter Transportation (Moving FIRST). Introduced in March 2021, the Moving FIRST Act establishes a grant program to award $100 million annually in grants to large, mid-sized, and rural communities that leverage technological innovation for transportation solutions to build upon the success of the 2015 Smart Cities Challenge.  

The 2015 Smart Cities Challenge received 78 applications across 36 states. By asking American cities to use emerging transportation technologies to address their most pressing problems, the Smart City Challenge aimed to spark and spread innovation through a mixture of collaboration, competition, and experimentation. During the selection process, Portman urged then-Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to award its Smart City Challenge grant to the city of Columbus, Ohio, citing its leadership in innovation and research, as well as its geographic fit. In the end, Columbus won the $40 million grant to develop smart technology to improve access to jobs, drive economic growth, establish the city’s leadership in logistics, and foster more sustainable transportation. In total, the Smart Cities grant helped leverage a total of $100 million for funding commitments and transportation upgrades in the capital city.