Baton Rouge, New Orleans compete for $40 million transportation prize in Smart City Challenge

Baton Rouge and New Orleans are among 77 cities nationwide competing for up to $40 million in federal funds to make transportation safer, easier and more reliable.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge asked midsize cities to submit plans for using data, technology and creativity to shape the way people and goods move.

Details of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans proposals were not available Tuesday.

In addition to the Transportation Department funds, Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. will award up to $10 million to the challenge winner to help deploy electric vehicles and other carbon emission reduction strategies, while Mobileye will outfit the winning city’s public bus system fleet with its driver-assistance safety technology.

The Department of Transportation is looking at how to integrate multiple innovations such as automated vehicles; the sharing economy, an example being ride-sharing and other online services; and other technologies into a network that connects people to a more intelligent transportation system.

According to the department, the Smart City award winner’s desired characteristics include a population between 200,000 and 850,000, with more than 15 percent of residents living in the urbanized area. The population numbers are based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau figures.

Baton Rouge had a population of 229,392, with 39 percent of residents living in the urbanized area. New Orleans’ population was 341,794, with 38 percent of residents living in the urbanized area. Shreveport was the only other Louisiana city to submit an application for the contest.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.

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