ITS America Urges Congress to Prioritize Intelligent Transportation Technologies
March 05, 2018

Shailen Bhatt
ITS America

The following is a letter that was originally sent to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, outlining ITS America’s priorities for what should be included in new infrastructure legislation.

In anticipation of the Committee on Environment and Public Works upcoming hearing on "The Administration's Framework for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America," the Intelligent Transportation Society of America ("ITS America") — the nation's leading association focused on the technological modernization of our transportation system through the research and deployment of intelligent transportation systems — offers its recommendations for an infrastructure bill. ITS America's unique membership includes cities, states, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, established and emerging private sector companies in the automotive and technology industries, research organizations and academic institutions.

Once the envy of the world, our increasingly outmoded roads, bridges, transit, freight, and intercity passenger systems are struggling to move the nation's technology-driven economy. Investment in far-sighted intelligent transportation technologies will enable scarce infrastructure funds to reach farther and with longer-lasting results.

As owners, operators, builders, innovators, and users of transportation infrastructure, we urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to support, an infrastructure bill that prioritizes investments in intelligent transportation technologies.

ITS America recommends that an infrastructure bill should:

Leverage existing FAST Act programs

Increase funding for FAST Act programs. Intelligent transportation technologies, including vehicle-to-infrastructure, are eligible uses of most FAST Act highway program funds. Specifically increase funding for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program, Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program, Technology and Innovation Deployment Program, and for the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program – flexible programs that often fund intelligent transportation deployment activities.

Create grants for emerging technologies that support congestion relief

Provide new funding for intelligent transportation deployment activities that support congestion relief. The program would include both formula and grant funding. Eligible projects would include capital and operational investments that improve system safety and performance. Examples include priced managed lanes; transportation demand management programs; strategic transit investments; advanced parking, freight delivery, and incident management systems; and programs to support the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, including vehicle -to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies.

Expand opportunities for smart communities

Build on the successes of the 2015 Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Cities Challenge administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation by including new federal funding to expand opportunities for communities — large and small/urban and rural — to compete for resources that will fund innovative and sustainable smart transportation projects. Projects should emphasize maturing technologies and performance goals. Incentivize the connection of smart cities and assist in the advancement of testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. These investments have a great return on investment versus traditional infrastructure investments.

Increase development of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure

Additional development of EV charging station corridors based on federal and state incentive projects as well as public private partnerships. Continue to look at new technologies such as inductive charging to speed the deployment of EVs.

Develop additional opportunities for broadband deployment

Provide new federal funding for broadband in unserved areas — both rural and metropolitan — to support the deployment of intelligent transportation applications that depend on connectivity.

Provide investments to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund and more resources for intelligent transportation technologies

Provide new and long-term investments to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund, increase federal funding for intelligent transportation technologies, and provide a multi-faceted approach to leveraging public and private resources.

The nation is entering a technology revolution that will define the way people, goods, and services move for decades to come. It is a new transportation era as dramatic as the period where the car supplanted the horse and buggy. The nation must deploy intelligent transportation technologies on a large scale to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. ITS America believes the infrastructure plan is the vehicle to increase the nation's investment in the transportation technologies that will shape mobility for decades to come.

We thank the Committee on Environment and Public Works for its leadership on the FAST Act, which made technology investments eligible across highway programs. We stand ready to work with the Committee on an infrastructure bill that builds on those investments.

Shailen Bhatt is President of ITS America