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MDOT awarded federal SMART grants for Blue Water Bridge Smart Freight Corridor, transit program innovation

LANSING, Mich. - Two Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects, including the Blue Water Bridge International Smart Freight Corridor and Advancing Rural Mobility: Michigan Public Transit Open Data Standards Program, have been selected for funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program.

Aimed at providing predictable arrival and processing times for truck-borne goods movement across the Blue Water Bridge to the Port Huron Port of Entry, the smart corridor project will improve the flow of data between shipping companies, vehicles, border agencies, and infrastructure operators along this key international freight corridor. The $1.8 million SMART grant will support a pilot project to improve the movement of westbound goods across the bridge and minimize border waiting times and congestion when fully implemented.

“Currently, trucks carrying freight across the border can experience lengthy delays at peak times. This project will decrease pollution from idling vehicles and decrease supply chain costs,” said Michele Mueller, MDOT’s senior project manager for connected and automated vehicles. “In 2020, $71.5 billion in goods passed over the Blue Water Bridge, so the potential benefits to the environment, along with a reduction of transportation costs, are tremendous.”

When the project is complete, the system will be able to support pre-clearance of freight shipments and minimize queuing and backups, while maintaining data and information security.

Longer distances between jobs, education opportunities, essential services, and recreation in rural communities can be a barrier to people with low incomes, people with disabilities, older adults, children, and teenagers who may not have access to a personal vehicle or be able to drive. Public transit is available in most communities, but finding out what services are available can remain a challenge.

“The Advancing Rural Mobility Program (ARMP) seeks to provide access to real-time public transit information and improve people’s ability to plan and book transit trips in rural communities,” said Janet Geissler, mobility innovations specialist with MDOT’s Office of Passenger Transportation. “This project will help rural transit agencies create data feeds using open standards that allow the data to be shared easily and consistently. That data can be used to power such things as trip-planning apps, on-demand ride-hailing services, and MDOT’s planned statewide Mobility as a Service platform, which will help people in all areas of the state identify and access transportation options.”

ARMP was selected to receive $1.3 million from the SMART grant program. MDOT has partnered with HNTB, an infrastructure design firm, and four rural public transit agencies to pilot the program: Benzie Transportation Authority, Charlevoix County Transit, Cadillac/Wexford Transit Authority, and Roscommon County Transportation Authority.

The two MDOT SMART grants are among 59 projects across 33 states, totaling $94 million in funding for the first round of the program. The program provides funding to public sector agencies to conduct demonstration projects that use technologies and systems to improve transportation efficiency and safety.

The City of Detroit and the Road Commission for Oakland County also were selected to receive SMART grant funding.

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