06.20.19

Gardner, Cortez Masto, Burr, Sinema, & Rep. DeSaulnier Introduce Moving FIRST Act to Promote Innovation in America’s Transportation Systems

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today introduced the Moving and Fostering Innovation to Revolutionize Smarter Transportation (Moving FIRST) Act. The Moving FIRST Act creates a competitive grant program for large and medium-sized cities as well as rural communities to seek federal grants for the creation of efficient, creative and innovative transportation projects. A companion bill is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.). 

“Colorado is home to some of the fastest growing cities in the country and it’s important our communities can update infrastructure to keep pace with that growth,” said Senator Gardner. “I’m pleased to join this bipartisan effort aimed at helping our communities pursue new transportation technologies. I’ll continue to advocate for Colorado at the federal level to make sure that the Centennial state receives the resources it needs.” 

“I’ve had a front row seat as Nevada has become the Innovation State and organizations like the Regional Transportation Commissions of Washoe County and Southern Nevada have helped lead the way in creating innovative solutions throughout the Silver State,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation promotes more innovative problem solving by allowing local communities to compete for grants that allow them to address local transportation challenges. I look forward to ensuring this bipartisan legislation moves forward in the United States Senate.”

“As our nation’s technology landscape continues to evolve, it’s critical all communities, both urban and rural, have the opportunity to benefit from cutting-edge tech, like smart grids, expanded Wi-Fi hot spots, and 5G networks,” said Senator Burr. “This legislation will allow communities of all sizes to compete for resources meant to accelerate the use of advanced technologies and address the transportation challenges of the 21st century. I am proud to work with my Senate colleagues on this important bill that encourages innovation in infrastructure.”

“By encouraging greater innovation we are creating jobs in Arizona, improving our transportation system, and driving economic growth,” said Senator Sinema. 

“Today’s transportation problems – increased congestion, pollution, and infrastructure in disrepair – need innovative and tailored solutions,” said Rep. DeSaulnier. “Smart technologies will allow the efficient and safe movement of people and goods while reducing congestion and improving public health. This legislation will pave the path for cities both big and small to make improvements that will have far-reaching benefits.”

“America’s cities, towns and villages applaud the efforts of Senators Cortez Masto, Burr, Gardner and Sinema to partner with communities of all sizes to make the smart infrastructure investments families and businesses want to see,” said National League of Cities (NLC) President Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor of Gary, Indiana. “Through pilot and full-blown smart city projects, local leaders are seeing solutions to better manage congested streets, bring new mobility options out to every underserved community, and reimagine America’s infrastructure for the future. Together, Congress and local leaders can invest in the next wave of innovation in American communities.”

BACKGROUND: 

The Moving FIRST Act would authorize the 2015 Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Cities Challenge program, a competitive grant program once administered by the Department of Transportation. This legislation would set aside funding for communities of varying sizes for the first time. From large (populations ranging from 400,000 to 1 million) and mid-sized (75,000 to 400,000) cities to our rural communities and regional partnerships (populations ranging from 10,000 to 75,000), every community would be able to compete for resources that improve the quality of life of their residents through the use of technology. This grant program directs these communities to find innovative solutions to a variety of transportation challenges faced by communities including reducing congestion, helping first responders to assist public safety, and improving the environment. 

Allocations under the Moving FIRST Act: 

  • Large and mid-sized city awards: Two awards annually, up to $50 million for a jurisdiction of each size, capped at $80 million total annually
  • Rural community and regional partnerships: Two awards annually, totaling up to $20 million total, with a requirement that no less than 20% of the available funding go to rural projects.

In addition, the Moving FIRST Act makes SMART Challenge applications eligible to apply for other federal funding opportunities under other current USDOT programs. Whether it’s Wi-Fi access, expanding electric vehicles, or more efficient transportation to the nearest health care center, urban and rural residents get multiple opportunities under the Moving FIRST Act.  

The Moving FIRST Act is supported by Switch, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, Lyft, Uber, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C-TEC), the Association of Global Automakers, Honda North America, Inc., the American Trucking Associations, the Railroad Passengers Association, the League of American Bicyclists, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the Smart City Council, Venture Smarter, the Smart Regions Initiatives, the Center for Data Innovation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA), Wi-fiber, Waycare, Qualcomm, CompTIA, Security Industry Association (SIA), CTIA, Verizon, Sprint, Geotab, Hotwire Communications, Small UAV Coalition, the Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and The Electrification Coalition. 

Full text of the bill is available here.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.