Spokane and Seattle are the only two Washington cities to submit bids for millions of dollars to upgrade their transportation systems with new technology, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will award up to $40 million to a city or region that demonstrates they have a plan to use ideas based on data and advanced technologies to reduce congestion, improve transportation safety, protect the environment, deal with climate change, connect under-served communities and support economic vitality.

Spokane’s application builds on work already being done in the University District by a number of parterns, including the city, Avista, Itron, McKinstry and Washington State University. Spokane’s application proposes electrifying the transit system, build over 600 vehicle-charging stations throughout the city, and enhance the Spokane Transit Authority’s Central City Line that would run between Browne’s Addition and Spokane Community College.

The challenge is part of a nationwide effort to spur innovation.

The Transportation Department grant will be matched with $10 million from Vulcan Inc., a company owned by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and Seattle resident.

Five finalists will be named next month and awarded $100,000 to develop more detailed applications. The winner will be named in June.

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