Former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, who served for eight years in George W. Bush's DOT, sat down with Streetsblog Capitol Hill this week to urge that Congress add a dedicated funding stream of $1 billion each year for transportation technology to the next long-term infrastructure bill.
Since leaving office, Peters has transitioned to private consulting work in her home state of Arizona and joined the board of directors at Aldis, a Tennessee-based traffic management company.
Alids' GridSmart program, a panoramic camera that captures vehicles and pedestrians at intersections and helps "smartly" synchronize traffic signals accordingly (see the above video), would stand to gain if Congress heeds Peters' advice and directly funds transportation technology.
Peters acknowledged that her proposal for the next infrastructure bill would help Aldis, but she described the billion-dollar dedicated funding as an opportunity for states and cities to choose their own high-tech solutions for traffic management. "This is a great application," Peters said of the GridSmart, "but there are others out there."
The House's original version of the 2005 transportation bill, which was recently extended for another month amid political wrangling, included $3 billion over five years for technological upgrades, also known as "intelligent transportation." But that money was removed from the legislation during conference talks with the Senate, Peters noted, leaving states without federal help with modernizing their congestion management.
The annual $1 billion fund Peters is backing would be distributed to states by formula, but state DOTs would have to report back to Washington on how effectively their technological investments were meeting specific performance targets. (For more on Peters' support of a federal role in setting transportation standards, see Part I of the Streetsblog interview.)Read more...