ATX Mayor meets with US DOT over Smart City Plan

A delegation with the U.S. Department of Transportation met Monday with Austin’s mayor and city mobility planners. The meeting was part of a competition for a $50 million grant to become a new federal innovation center.

It’s no secret; in Austin it can be so difficult to get from point A to point B - that it may seem like turtles at Butler Park can get around town faster. Mayor Steve Adler said he understands the dilemma.

"The status quo is unacceptable in this City we know that choosing to do nothing is choosing to watch the city that we love die slowly in an ever expanding traffic jam,” said Adler.

Mayor Adler and city mobility officials announced Monday they were meeting with federal transportation officials about their smart city transportation proposal. The $50-million competition, according to council member Ann Kitchen - breaks down the mobility discussion into a few key areas. 

"Safer, cheaper, cleaner, and more effective for everyone,” said Kitchen.

The Austin proposal essentially is a pitch to be a transportation idea lab for Uncle Sam. 5 areas for innovation include:

  • self driving vehicles.
  • electric powered fleets.
  • intelligent traffic signals.
  • regional park & ride hubs.
  • smart phone travel applications.

This package is not about building an interstate bypass around Austin or even expanding rail service, so when you think about it, don’t think Civil Engineering, think Social Engineering.

"The challenge of our urban renaissance, is no long how to attract population growth or how to attract capital investment, rather our challenge is bridging the divide between those who benefit from our boom and those who are being left behind,” said Councilman Greg Casar.

It’s a goal, that city officials say they will pursue, even if they fail to win the federal grant competition. The city has until the end of May to make modifications to its plan.

The federal government will announce a winner in June. As for coming up with a basic transportation plan, which involves roads, rail and carpool lanes, such a plan may be pitched in 18 to 24 months.

Link to Austin Competition Plan.

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