Bill Seeks to Create USDOT Traffic Signals Grant Program

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduce a bill on June 14 to create a “Smart Technology Traffic Signals” grant program within the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the functioning of traffic signals across the country through the implementation of what he called “innovative technologies.”

[Above photo via Wikipedia Commons]

The “Smart Intersections Act of 2021” seeks to reduce traffic congestion and fuel costs for drivers, while improving roadway safety and efficiency as well as emergency response rates, via the broader deployment of new traffic signal systems.

Sen. Peters

Sen. Peters noted in a statement that grants through this program could be used to improve the active management of traffic signals plus implement strategies, activities, and projects that support active management of traffic signal operations.

Funds could also cover the costs of replacing outdated traffic signals as well as pay for temporary staff dedicated to updating traffic signal technology for local governments with a population less than 500,000, the senator’s office said.

[Editor’s note: In a related effort, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials continues to encourage the Federal Highway Administration to move forward with proposed updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. FHWA proposed reforming the MUTCD in December 2020 and AASHTO has urged the agency to continue that process in two separate letters – one in March 2021 and another in May 2021.]

Photo by the Utah DOT

The “Smart Intersections” bill would also direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with improved traffic signal efficiency while prohibiting any funding of traffic enforcement systems via the grant program.

Several organizations – including the National Association of Counties, the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America – are support this bill.

“[We are] proud to support this bipartisan legislation that aims to improve roadway safety and reduce fatalities through innovation and the modernization of traffic signals,” noted Stacy Tetschner, ATSSA’s president and CEO. “More than ever, it is important for our industry to look to the future and ensure that roadway safety infrastructure keeps pace with the technological advances we are seeing across the roadway system.”

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