Feb 27 2024

How State and Local Governments Are Working Toward Vision Zero

We’ve seen significant growth in transportation procurement in the public sector. What’s fueling the change, and where are investments being made?

State and local government procurement trends are always evolving, and the transportation industry is currently leading that charge. According to a recent Deltek GovWin report on state and local procurement, the SLED procurement market showed stability, though the top four industries — transportation, public safety, architecture and engineering, and professional business services — saw significant growth, by 2 to 9 percent year over year from the third quarter of 2022 to the third quarter of 2023. Transportation ranked No. 1 for local government and saw a growth of nearly 9 percent year over year.

We’ve also seen a jump in procurements that go toward achieving the goal of Vision Zero, a campaign dedicated to the elimination of all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. According to the Vision Zero Network, more than 45 communities in the United States — including major cities such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta — have committed to the Vision Zero goal and devised a plan to achieve it.

It’s clear that state and local governments are investing more in smart technologies that aim to make roads safer. But why now? Pedestrian safety is always important, but recent developments have paved the way for state and local agencies to make headway with transportation procurement.

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Federal Funding Gives Local Transport Technology Procurement a Jolt

This big jump is a few years in the making, and a major factor has been the increase in federal funding for projects related to transportation and Vision Zero. We’ve seen general funds such as the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds supporting surface transportation projects among other eligible programs, such as relief for natural disasters and community-building initiatives.

More specific to transportation, we’ve seen dedicated grants such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program, which funds regional, local and tribal projects that prevent traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Projects eligible for SS4A funding include technologies designed to improve safety and protect vulnerable road users in high-traffic areas; installation of connected intersection-based safety solutions and vehicle-to-infrastructure; improving crash data collection and enhancing emergency vehicle warning systems; and improving crosswalks by adding markings, lighting and signage at stops.

There’s also the DOT’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity discretionary grant program, which dedicates funds to “critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects,” according to the agency’s website. Approved use of RAISE funds includes highway or bridge projects, public transportation projects, passenger and freight rail transportation projects, port infrastructure investments, surface transportation components of airports, intermodal projects (moving freight by two or more modes of transportation), and projects whose components are otherwise eligible.

An important component of both the SS4A and RAISE grants is that they don’t just give organizations funds to invest in smart technologies; they also call for organizations to build development plans in the beginning so that they’re poised for success.

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How State and Local Governments Invest in Vision Zero Programs

We’re currently seeing an uptick in command and control centers that manage and monitor these environments, whether they are transit or transportation. When you look at some of the things that state and local governments are spending money on, they include using transportation to deliver technology services to underserved communities and supporting general pedestrian safety. For example, when interstates run through underserved communities, state and local governments can use the interstates to create infrastructure for wireless connectivity. We’re seeing funding for this go not to cities or counties but to regional transportation planning commissions to make that happen.

Ultimately, the top areas of transportation procurement that we’re seeing in state and local governments are:

  • Traffic signal infrastructure
  • Command and control centers
  • Video surveillance
  • Video analytics

As for the Vision Zero side of things, the first phase of Vision Zero spending that we’re seeing from state and local agencies focuses mainly on research and proof of concept. We’re in the early stages here, and the second phase is where we’ll see money spent on implementing a host of technologies around pedestrian safety. What we are largely going to see in the future is investments in sensors, cameras and smart streetlights, along with communications devices that can be used to focus on problem intersections.

The SS4A grant program, for example, is a four-year program, and the first year for grant awardees is all about developing plans and doing pilot projects. Once those plans are approved, organizations can then think about developing their projects on a wider scale. The first year or two of the grant program is more focused on controlled pilot projects that can then extend out. In the last two years of the grant program, we’ll see larger projects being implemented.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series.


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