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As readers of the Fast Lane know, transportation is about a lot more than just how we get from one point to another.  Transportation is, what President Obama likes to call, a ladder of opportunity.  It helps people reach better jobs and better schools, which means they can reach for –and seize– a better life.

That's especially true on Tribal Lands.

DOT is committed to working with tribal communities to build the roads, bridges, and transit systems they need.  And we've got a number of programs that are doing just that...

Phot of  reservation transit work
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In April, General Motors (GM) recalled more than two million vehicles: all 2003-2007 Saturn IONs, 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5s, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2007-2010 Saturn Skys. The vehicles were made with faulty ignition switches that create a danger of airbags not deploying during a crash. In some vehicles, the switch could cause the engine to shut off while driving.

GM now reports that enough parts are available to fix all faulty ignition switches covered by the recall, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of unrepaired GM vehicles to immediately contact their local dealer to arrange a service appointment.

This is a serious safety issue that should be addressed immediately by following GM’s recommendation to "use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring."

Consumer alert

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As the 2014 navigation season marches along on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, shipping volumes are generally outpacing last year's levels. That's a good sign because six Great Lakes Seaway System ports have already received a Pacesetter Award this year for increasing international cargo tonnage during the 2013 shipping season. They might well be on their way to taking home another award next year!

We award the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter when a port increases its international freight volume over the previous year. The 2014 awardees for their 2013 performance are:

  • Port of Green Bay,
  • Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority,
  • Duluth Seaway Port Authority,
  • Port of Cleveland,
  • Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and
  • Port of Monroe

Photo of Port of Green Bay

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Cross-posted courtesy of the White House Rural Council.

Around the country, communities are seeking creative approaches to integrating entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other place-based considerations into successful economic planning. Local food development can be one strategy.

The White House Rural Council and six federal agencies have selected 26 communities to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of federal agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop specific local food projects. These efforts will make a significant impact in the communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative...

Photo of hand-jarred pickled okra with quotation from President Obama

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Because our servicemen and women ensure our nation’s safety and security, it is important that we recognize their sacrifice, dedication, and professionalism. However, we owe them much more than recognition; we owe them --and they deserve-- opportunity!

Both the Maritime Administration and the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) understand this.  As a veteran myself, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to talk with other veterans in person when I speak at the 4th installment of the AMP’s “Military2Maritime” program tomorrow in New Orleans.

The program’s goal is to connect veterans and transitioning active duty personnel with jobs in America's thriving maritime industry, and so far it’s been a rousing success...

Photo of previous military to maritime event

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In August, after continued pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seat manufacturer Graco recalled over 6 million car seats.

Photo of infant in Graco safety seat

The defect involves buckles of child and infant car seats sticking or becoming stuck in the latched position, creating an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency. But while the recall is good news for child safety, it's not as good as you might think; NHTSA estimates that only about 40 percent of recalled car seats are ever actually repaired. That's not nearly the rate of repairs for recalled light vehicles (75 percent), and it presents a significant safety challenge.

But NHTSA's work doesn't end when a recall is announced. Yesterday, the safety agency announced an investigation into the timeliness of Graco's reporting on the safety defect that led to the August recall...

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Since 2010, Americans have celebrated our nation's independent entrepreneurs by visiting small businesses for some post-Thanksgiving shopping on "Small Business Saturday." I was happy to take part in this new tradition by taking my quest for winter bicycling gear to Freshbikes, a cycling store here in the Washington, DC, area.

Freshbikes, like most small businesses, does more than sell stuff. As President Obama said, these are the men and women who "provide the jobs, products, and services that enrich our lives, shape our communities, and move our economy forward."

And Freshbikes is no exception; now operating three stores in the region, the company is a job creator. And they had what I needed to continue bicycling --for recreation and transportation-- even as the weather grows colder...

Photo of Secretary Foxx shopping for bike gear

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According to AAA, this year, more than 41 million Americans traveled by car for Thanksgiving. We also know that on Sunday, after a few days of relaxing with family and friends, those tens of millions of people will be rushing home to prepare for another work week.

In fact, the Sunday following Thanksgiving is often the single busiest day of the year on America's highways. As Perry Como sang in 1954's Home for the Holidays, “From Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific.”

That's why DOT is once again recognizing Drive Safer Sunday by reminding all motorists to buckle up and slow down--particularly on this high volume day...

Photo of car passing a truck

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This week, millions of Americans will travel to places near and far to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday offers us a particular opportunity to express our gratitude, and as we gather to share the blessings of friends and family, and the bounty of our country, I hope we also take a moment to honor the service of our military and the sacrifices of their families.

One of the things for which I am most thankful is the outstanding team here at DOT. Whether by road, rail, ship, or plane, Americans depend on a dynamic transportation system to reach their holiday destinations and return home safely. The Department's men and women --here in Washington and in field offices and air traffic control towers across the nation-- work tirelessly to ensure that our transportation system gets you where you need to go.

Photo collage of different transportation workers

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This week, you might only have turkey, stuffing, and gravy on your mind. For us at DOT, that time will come, too, but right now we're thinking about one thing above all else: your safety.

Whether you’re going by plane, bus, car, train, or transit this busy travel week, you won’t be alone. AAA projects that more than 46 million people will travel 50 miles or more. Then there are the millions more who will drive or ride transit closer to home. So our planes, buses, and trains will be full, and our roads will be, too.

Another challenge is weather. According to the National Weather Service, one or two high impact systems are possible across the country during the holiday travel period. These could bring heavy rain, snow, and strong winds--all of which can affect transportation systems...

A.A.A. Thanksgiving travel forecast infographic

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