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Austin Comes Up Short In Securing $50M Smart City Challenge Contest Money

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AUSTIN, TX — You would think that Austin — home of themost congested stretch of highway in Texas — would be a shoo-in to win the U.S. Department of Transportation’sSmart City challenge: A $50 million government grant to invest in transportation innovation.

So you’d think Austin — where driving between U.S. 290 and SH 71takes two-and-a-half times longer in peak traffic than in light traffic, where Texans collectively spend nearly a million hours in delays for every mile traveled on I-35 — would be a shoo-in to get the prize.

 You’d be wrong.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Columbus, Ohio, got the prize among a field a seven finalists that included Austin, according to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Underground and other Ohio media. A formal announcement is expected to be made on Thursday.

There will be a consolation prize, however. U.S. Department of Transportation officials didn’t confirm the winner on Tuesday, but did say each of the finalist cities will receive support to “…move forward with ideas that each city developed over the past six months.”

Close, but no cigar. And by cigar, we mean a $4o million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and another $10 million more from the nonprofitVulcan.

In addition to Austin and Columbus, the other finalist cities were: Portland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City and Denver.

Finalists prepared a video in their pitch, referencing the use of technology tools (like transportation-related apps) to enhance mobility. You can watch the various Smart City challenge submissions by clicking here.