Youngstown, US is preparing

Once part of the industrial stronghold of the Rust Belt, Youngstown had hemorrhaged jobs and population for years. Then in 2019, the General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly Plant, which had been one of the largest employers of the area in the last 5 decades closed its doors in March.

One big step to realign the city’s economy was Youngstown’s SMART2 initiative, a multimodal transportation project which promised to transform the city’s main throughway, Fifth Avenue Corridor. The $22 million project, funded in part by a $10.8 m grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD Program, included a self-driving circulator. This service hopes to connect residents from Federal Station bus terminal to the city’s major employers — Youngstown State University, Mercy Health, Youngstown Business Incubator, and Eastern Gateway Community College.

Local partners, including Youngstown State University, the city of Youngstown, the Western Reserve Transit Authority and Mercy Health-Youngstown, raised nearly $11 million to match the DOT grant. Youngstown’s project was also supported by DriveOhio, a state-wide initiative supporting smart mobility projects in 20 cities and towns, including many involving autonomous and connected vehicles.

Further Reading