Carnegie Mellon University
March 18, 2021

CMU's Traffic21 Announces Winners of Third Smart Mobility Challenge

By Caitlin Kizielewicz

Caitlin Kizielewicz
  • Heinz College
Earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon University's Traffic21 announced the Township of Shaler, the City of Monessen and Heritage Community Transportation as the winners of its third Smart Mobility Challenge.

Traffic21, a research institute operated out of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and Mobility21, its affiliated USDOT National University Transportation Center in the College of Engineering, sponsored this year's challenge as a continuation of its mission of transforming southwestern Pennsylvania into a testbed for mobility innovation.

With generous funding from the Hillman Foundation and the USDOT, the Smart Mobility Challenge invited representatives of municipalities and public transit operators in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties to identify real-world mobility challenges affecting their communities and apply to receive support from CMU faculty and students.

"The problems submitted for consideration illustrate the mobility challenges we face in southwestern Pennsylvania and the awareness and dedication of our local leaders and transit operators to find solutions," said Lisa Kay Schweyer, program manager of Traffic21.

Walk Bike Shaler, in partnership with the Township of Shaler, will partner with CMU researchers from the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI) to inform and contribute to the Better Boulevard Initiative. CMU, providing urban design and computer vision expertise, will deploy cameras for visual data, develop computer vision algorithms to analyze data, develop mobility/urban design recommendations from the data and respond to community priorities.

The City of Monessen, led by Mayor Matt Shorraw, will partner with CMU researchers from the RCI to inform and contribute to the ongoing work of the city's comprehensive plan and initiatives related to mobility, equity and safety with a focus on mid-downtown Monessen.

Shaler's pattern of a long Main Street in a suburban context and Monessen's pattern of a riverfront downtown are mobility/urban design case studies relevant to numerous municipalities throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and nationally.

Heritage Community Transportation, a program of Heritage Community Initiatives, will partner with CMU researchers to review the impact of COVID-19 on its services with the objective to recommend rider-focused service enhancements including service routing. This project will collect data on demand patterns, develop new theory and provide practical policy recommendations. It also provides faculty and students the opportunity to conduct research with a transportation provider whose mission is to serve the region's most vulnerable populations.

"The Traffic21 Institute has helped establish the City of Pittsburgh as a world-renowned test bed for transportation intelligent technologies," said Chris Hendrickson, director of Traffic21. "Through the Smart Mobility Challenge projects, we are thrilled to extend this reach further into the southwestern Pennsylvania region."

There was one other application from Beaver County, and Traffic21 staff connected the municipality's representatives with CMU faculty to explore additional solutions through class projects versus a traditional award. All projects will begin July 1, 2021 with the goal to be completed by June 30, 2022.

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