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Ithaca Is Among The First In The Nation To Tap The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program To Use Innovative Technology To Improve Public Transit And Safety

Senators Say $1.7 Million SMART Grant Will Put Ithaca In The Fast Lane For Smarter Traffic Signals And Safer Streets, Paving The Way For A Brighter Future And A Faster Commute

Schumer, Gillibrand: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Is Helping Greenlight The Future Of Transportation In Ithaca

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the City of Ithaca will receive over $1.7 million in federal funding as a first round recipient of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program to improve the efficiency of school buses, transit, and fire operations. This federal investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, will help Ithaca deploy a dynamic traffic signal priority (TSP) system for transit buses, school buses, and fire trucks at up to 15 high-traffic intersections. The project has the potential to help decrease fire emergency response times, make school bus pick-up and drop-off times more consistent, and enhance the reliability of public transportation services. The project will target select traffic signals along key transportation corridors in the city, allowing for coordinated signal timing and improved traffic flow.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, Ithaca is now in the fast lane for the future of safe and innovative transportation,” said Senator Schumer. “Over $1.7 million to upgrade traffic signals will pave the way to keep our streets safe for our schoolchildren and brave first responders. As majority leader, I am proud to have led the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to passage and deliver this major boost in federal funding to give Ithacans a safer and more streamlined commute.”

Senator Gillibrand said, “This federal funding will allow Ithaca residents get to around more efficiently and more safely and help our firefighters respond quickly to emergencies. I’m proud to have fought to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to provide grants like this one to communities across our state, and I’ll keep fighting to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure.”

“Adding this groundbreaking traffic signal priority system to our transit infrastructure will improve safety and efficiency by prioritizing not only our fire trucks but also our school and transit buses. This adaptive system would not be possible without the partnership between the City of Ithaca, NYSDOT, Ithaca City School District, and the Ithaca Fire Department. We are grateful for the federal support for this innovative technology to make our city streets safer,” said Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis.

Transit signal priority (TSP) is used in many cities to promote the efficient movement of transit vehicles through intersections by adjusting the timing of traffic signals. TSP technology facilitates communication between transit vehicles and traffic signals, helping to alleviate gridlock and reduce traffic congestion. Ithaca’s innovative proposal will create an integrated, GPS-based transit signal priority system that not only serves public mass transit vehicles, but also school buses and fire trucks. The system will be designed to be able to quickly adjust to support firefighters responding to an emergency as well as changes to public and school bus routes.

The senators explained that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $100 million appropriated annually over five years (FY22-26) for the SMART grant program, which was established to provide grants to eligible public sector agencies to conduct demonstration projects focused on advanced smart community technologies and systems in order to improve transportation efficiency and safety. As a Stage 1 Planning and Prototyping Grant recipient, Ithaca is one of the first communities to tap this funding, and is eligible to apply for a Stage 2 Implementation Grant, which could allow the system to be expanded to include additional traffic signals in the community.

Schumer and Gillibrand have been staunch advocates for delivering federal dollar to improve transportation in Ithaca. Most recently, the Senators secured over $8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Low and No Emission Vehicle Grant Program for the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT). The federal funding will go towards purchasing six, forty-foot electric buses as well as four electric micro-buses, improving Ithaca’s accessibility and transportation services, and accelerating the city’s emission reduction goals. TCAT is one the City of Ithaca’s partners on the project, which also includes the Ithaca City School District, Ithaca Fire Department, and NYS Department of Transportation.