SLGs Front and Center in DoT’s RD&T Plan

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DoT) newly released five-year research, development, and technology plan is putting projects that support state and local governments front and center in the agency’s ambitious plans to help transform the nation’s transportation systems.

The Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022-2026 represents DoT’s guiding plan for transportation research, development, and technology deployment activities, the agency said.

“The plan supports DOT’s mission to deliver the world’s leading transportation system, serving the American people and economy through the safe, efficient, sustainable, and equitable movement of people and goods,” DoT said.

The five-year strategic plan will guide more than $5 billion in research activities funded through the Biden-Harris administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), with a focus on driving innovation, creating jobs, and supporting deployment of transformative technologies.

Many of the BIL-funded projects cover a range of approaches across different transportation modes. According to DoT, work on many of those projects “relies on the strength and creativity of many stakeholders, including state, local, tribal and territorial governments; universities, community colleges, and research laboratories; and industry partners, such as small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Some of the key projects include:

  • Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants, which is a new competitive grant program that supports state, local, and tribal governments in conducting demonstration projects to advance smart city or community technologies and systems that improve transportation efficiency, safety, and other priority goals. The SMART grant program will be conducted in two phases, with the first phase supporting planning, team-building, and developing a proof-of-concept, and the second phase focusing demonstration projects at greater scale;
  • Advanced Transportation Technologies and Innovative Mobility Deployment, which is a competitive grant program available to state and local governments and agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, regional partnerships, and research consortia for the development of advanced transportation technologies and innovative mobility deployments;
  • Open Research Initiative, which is a new advanced transportation research pilot program that supports states, local governments, universities, nonproft organizations, and private sector organizations by enabling them to submit unsolicited research proposals addressing unmet U.S. DoT research needs;
  • The Nontraditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council, which aims to identify and resolve jurisdictional and regulatory gaps associated with nontraditional or emerging transportation technologies, including safety, environmental review, and funding issues;
  • The Smart Community Resource Center, which is an online resource established by DoT in partnership with other Federal agencies, on intelligent transportation system and smart communities approaches for use by state, local, tribal and territorial governments; and
  • The Transportation Resilience and Adaptation Centers of Excellence (TRACE) Grant Program, which is a competitive research and development grant program that supports institutes of higher education to improve resilience to natural disasters and extreme weather by promoting the resilience of surface transportation infrastructure.