In June 2016, the city of Columbus, Ohio received a $40 million grant from the US Department of Transportation and $10 million from Vulcan Inc. as part of the federal Smart City Challenge. Since then, the city has assessed that two of the original projects weren’t needed by the intended users, that the city already is working on the other two without need for the grant dollars and, has added a new project. The U.S. Department of Transportation has signed off on changes:
- The new prenatal visit transportation project seeks to design a “system to easily provide flexible, reliable, two-way transportation” to doctor visits for pregnant women on Medicaid in a bid to lower child mortality rates in low-income families. “For women who don’t have access to cars, getting to doctors, jobs, school, and all the other support systems they need to stay healthy can be a real issue,” said Erika Clark Jones, the director of community strategies at CelebrateOne;
- An app for delivery drivers to reserve times for loading zones was removed from the project as: “Research illustrated that delivery truck drivers would not find this application helpful,” the city said in a statement;
- The bus collision avoidance sensors project was also removed as it was shown that the transit system had only six collisions with pedestrians or bikes in 2016, all taking place under low-light conditions. The proposed sensors don’t work at that lighting level; and,
- Smart street lights and enhanced permit parking were shifted to city responsibility.
“Ultimately, we believe this restructured portfolio will focus our efforts and resources, enabling us to best achieve the grant mission of demonstrating how an intelligent transportation system and equitable access to transportation can have positive impacts on everyday challenges faced by cities,” spokeswoman Jennifer Fening said.