Virginia Tech could receive millions of dollars to revamp transportation industry through grant

Sen. Tim Kaine stopped by the university to talk to leaders of the project

They're hoping the money can be used to make roads safer and more eco-friendly

BLACKSBURG, Va. – $100 million could end up in Virginia Tech’s pocket to revamp the transportation industry to become safer and more eco-friendly.

Sen. Tim Kaine stopped by Virginia Tech Thursday to talk to the leaders of the project.

Out of more than 500 applications, Virginia Tech was selected as one of the 60 finalists for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant.

Virginia Tech’s goal is to take $100 million and revamp the transportation industry.

Part of the plan is to use the money to build and improve automated and electric vehicles.

“It’s about making those jobs and those deliveries more safely and making them with a smaller environmental footprint,” VT Center for Economic and Community Engagement Director John Provo said.

Enhancing navigation for aerial innovation, like drones, is also on the list.

An idea Kaine said could play a pivotal role in southwest Virginia, especially during natural disasters.

“Drones could get emergency supplies in for people while they are waiting to get the roads cleared,” Kaine said. “This has got a lot of applications to it but you’ve got to kind of connect the innovations together.”

With a major truck driver shortage, the project also aims to find hires and grow employment.

“We are seeing the need and the demand expand faster than the workforce supply,” Kaine said. “So we have to come up with innovative solutions to deal with that.”

“Part of this is about not just inventing new technology but integrating it into the day-to-day production so we can make it more normal,” Provo said.

Provo said after a few more site visits from federal agencies he expects to hear a decision by late summer.

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