Austin’s bid to become the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City came up short Tuesday when the DOT named Columbus, Ohio as the winner of the multi-million dollar challenge, according to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's office.
Two Ohio senaotrs announced their capitol city, Columbus, is the winner.
KVUE has reached out to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown's office multiple times, but has yet to receive a reply. Portman's office did reply with a release and the following statement:
“This grant, combined with its public-private investment, will help reshape the transportation sector in central Ohio for decades to come, and I’d like to congratulate Mayor Ginther and the City of Columbus for receiving this major award. I’m proud that I was able to work with the mayor and the private sector in their bid to win this grant by leading the congressional delegation pitch. Most importantly, this grant will help meet the transportation needs of Ohioans who live in the low-income neighborhoods in and around Columbus to ensure they can get to their job, or receive a good education. I will continue to work with Mayor Ginther, the City of Columbus, and Central Ohio economic development partners to ensure that this is a sound investment in innovation for Ohio and for the country.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement to KVUE that no announcement on a winner was coming Tuesday.
The City of Austin was one of the seven finalists in the USDOT Smart City Challenge, which tasks the winner with becoming "the country's first city to fully integrate innovative technologies -- self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors -- into their transportation network."
The prize money, $40 million in grant funding from the federal government, will go toward Columbus using data, technology and creativity to relieve the traffic congestion on roadways. The other finalists vying for the prize were Denver, Kansas City, Mo.; Pittsburgh, Portland, Ore. and San Francisco.
In May, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited each of the top cities including Austin. As he met with Mayor Steve Adler, he spoke highly of Austin.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus told federal officials they had secured at least $90 million in local matching funds if it received the grant including $19 million in public dollars.
Ohio native Samantha Stewart said she is happy that a city in her home state is the unofficial winner of the challenge.
"I feel like Austin and Texas are a little bit better off than Ohio cities are right now," Stewart said.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said even if the city doesn't win the smart city challenge, Austin's proposed projects will still be completed.
"All of these things are going to continue to move forward and they are exciting," Adler said. "Austin is an innovative, creative city. We don't need anyone's permission for that and it's who we are, so we're going to keep pushing."
Some of the city's plans include pushing for a pilot program for self-driving cars, lowering I-35, electrifying more of the city's fleet and creating an open market for ride-hailing apps.
Go here to learn more about the Smart City Challenge.