The city of Madison is competing for $50 million in federal grant money through the Smart Cities Initiative.

The grant will be awarded to the city with the best plan to implement high tech transportation infrastructure within their city.

Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, said the city has a “plausible chance” at winning the prize, but no one is holding their breath. While competition among cities is stiff, Madison boasts an excellent staff and it’s important the city pursue all available grants, he said.

“It’s kind of like applying for scholarships — you lose out on 100 percent of scholarships you don’t apply for,” Wood said.

The funds would be a boon for a city straining to accommodate a growing population’s transportation needs, the most glaring example being the city’s continued inability to build a bus shelter.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the city actively applies for all applicable grants, which in recent years have been in short supply due to budget cuts on the national level. Still, Verveer said the city pursues each grant with vigor and has a dedicated staff grant writer.

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Applications for the grant are due on Feb. 4 and the city has already asked and received concepts for their plan, Verveer said. 

Wood said this will be the first year the Smart Cities Grant will be awarded. Verveer said the 10 runner-up cities will receive $100,000 grants.