Columbus beats 6 other cities to win $50M Smart City Challenge

Source: Columbus Business First 

Columbus will soon have $140 million from the public and private sectors to kick-start an initiative to improve mobility in U.S. communities.

The victory in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge is a coup for the city, which beat out six others to win $40 million from the federal government and $10 million from Vulcan Inc., which was founded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen.

Central Ohio businesses and public organizations pledged to nearly double what the government and Allen’s company are devoting to the effort, putting $90 million toward the Smart Cities initiative..

Being chosen means Columbus won a competition that “could completely change the American city,” as the Washington Post described the Smart City Challenge. The city would test, for example, driverless vehicles in the low-income Linden neighborhood so its residents can get to jobs.

The city was victorious over formidable competition for the federal grant: San Francisco; Austin, Texas; Denver; Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Missouri; and Portland, Oregon. Now all eyes will be on a midsize Midwestern city that won over big-name rivals.

Columbus and other growing cities – 78 applied for the competition – are grappling with traffic congestion while their populations surge. Central Ohio is expected to add 1 million residents by 2050 and Columbus is still the biggest U.S. city not to have a public mass transit system, such as a commuter rail line, though city leaders have broached the idea.

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