A federal grant application has been submitted by the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC), in partnership with the City of Buffalo, Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). The grant that has these organizations abuzz is the United States Department Of Transportation’s “Beyond Traffic: The SMART City Challenge*”.
The top prize for the city that weighs in until the end will be awarded an estimated $40 million in federal funding by the USDOT. While 64 mid-sized cities (including Buffalo) are eligible to win the grant, only five cities will come away as finalists. Those finalists will receive $100K each, which will then be used to fine tune and deliver the respective city’s Smart Cities concept and goals. From there, only one city will be awarded top prize – $40 million. To add to the excitement, Vulcan Inc. is upping the ante by adding an extra $10 million to the pot (private funding), now tallying $50 million.
The five finalists will be announced in March, and the lucky winning city will be announced in June.
“This coordinated transportation and community enhancement initiative is a great opportunity for one community to become a model for technology-driven planning toward the goal of an improved quality of life,” said Congressman Higgins, who is backing a federal grant application. “We want Buffalo be the city where that happens.”
“This is a unique opportunity that will build on the successful collaboration already in place within the region. The successful partnerships in planning, systems operations, technology deployment and the working relationships between the public and private entities will help move us to the next level of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent city using technology to solve transportation related issues,” said Athena Hutchins, Executive Director of NITTEC.
GBNRTC Executive Director Hal Morse added, “The incredible partnership that has evolved to prepare this application illustrates the spirit of the new Buffalo. Winning this competition will advance our transportation system a whole decade into the future.”
“The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo-Niagara region are on the move. The NFTA continues its proud tradition of modeling the type of transportation – clean, efficient, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced – that the public and new economy require for success,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, Executive Director of the NFTA. “This application is a great example of the collaborative, data-driven and constant information sharing approach that the NFTA and its partners across the region use to deliver cost-effective, quality transportation services every day. I want to thank the Congressman for his support for this application and his work in writing a new story for a new and better Buffalo area.”
*First announced by the White House in September, the SMART City Challenge is aimed at helping communities use technology to address infrastructure issues, protect the environment, respond to climate change, connect underserved communities and support economic vitality.