Traffic Got You Down? Here's a Billionaire Looking to Tackle This Problem

Traffic on that morning commute gets to all of us, and apparently Paul Allen is no exception.

This week, news broke that Allen has teamed up with the Department of Transportation for the Smart City Challenge, a DOT initiative meant to incentivize forward-thinking, high-tech solutions to the gridlock and inefficiencies that come part and parcel with urban living. This includes ideas to develop smarter cars, street lights, public transitanything that makes transportation quicker, easier, and safer.

Do you have an idea to fix the traffic problem in your city? You could win $50 million.

That's right, the partnership between the Seattle billionaire and federal government takes form by way of the $50 million in total prize money for the city that comes up with the best idea. The DOT is in for $40 million, while Allen himself has put up $10 million for the cause, through his jack-of-all trades mega-company Vulcan Inc.

While Allen conceivably has at least a nominal interest in urban planning and development, and probably doesn't want to sit in traffic all day, Vulcan says the primary motivation for the $10 million donation is to help join the fight against climate change by incentivizing cities to come up with more efficient, and therefore inherently greener methods and strategies for transportationa move that's actually in step with some of Allen's latest philanthropic efforts.

As we've reported often, Paul Allen is quite the whirling dervish of philanthropy lately, with a string of new giving interests over recent years. His huge push on Ebola has received the most attention, but Allen is into a lot else lately besides his long-time causes of brain research and the Pacific Northwest community. 

In particular, Allen has become more invested in environmental causes, particularly in wildlife conservation, as evidenced by his recent involvement with Elephants Without Borders, the Jane Goodall Institute for Great Ape conservation, and the Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge.

Allen has consistently been one of the top donors in the tech world, and it will be interesting to see if these newer, greener issues become a staple of his giving profile.