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On Monday, four new, modern train cars rolled out of a railyard in Greenbelt, MD, and made the short trip to the station platform. They weren’t there to pick up passengers; instead, they were providing a first look at an entirely new generation of rail cars, designed --in part-- with the input of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA) customers and train operators.

They are the first of more than 500 new "7000 Series" cars --all made in the United States-- that will provide a safer, more reliable ride for millions of passengers and expand the Metrorail system’s capacity overall.

Photo of the exterior of the new WMATA 7000 rail car

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In 1977 –the year after I began my railroading career– 48 railroad employees lost their lives in switching accidents. That’s four lives every month in switching accidents alone. That's more than a statistic to me. My father is a retired switchman; I switched box cars; and five of my friends have been killed on duty during my railroading career.

More than three decades later, we have made significant progress. In 2013, only one employee died during a switching operation. And while we still see this as one too many, it shows us what’s possible when the Federal Railroad Administration, the rail industry, and rail labor come together to form safety partnerships and eliminate risks.

Photo of a freight train and worker in a rail yard
Photo courtesy joeknowsphoto
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Tired of sitting in traffic jams near road work zones? Watch the video below to learn how the Federal Highway Administration uses Accelerated Bridge Construction to help states build bridges faster while minimizing—or even eliminating—traffic jams, detours, and delays. Trust us, it only sounds like magic.

Accelerated Bridge Construction is just one of the innovations that has emerged from FHWA's Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative. If EDC sounds familiar to Fast Lane readers, it's probably because we published a post here just yesterday from FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau asking readers to submit ideas for the next round of EDC innovations--EDC3. We think watching the video will help inspire you to give EDC3 some thought.

Continue Reading FHWA Works: Building ››
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Pipelines are an important part of our transportation infrastructure. They span 2.6 million miles nationwide, moving energy products like natural gas and petroleum from wells to refineries to consumers like you.

DOT's Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration safeguards these pipelines by, among other things, issuing and enforcing regulations. Two years ago, the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 was signed into law. That Act gave PHMSA the ability to hold pipeline operators more accountable by authorizing the agency to double maximum penalties for violations. It also required us to meet 42 mandates to strengthen pipeline safety and oversight. By the end of 2013, PHMSA had completed half of those mandates.

Because the more you know, the safer you are, PHMSA remains committed to transparency. That's why, last year, we published a Pipeline Safety Act progress chart, where anyone can track our implementation progress section by section.

Photo of the open end of a pipeline

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Attention Fast Lane readers: the Federal Highway Administration needs your assistance identifying the next wave in cutting-edge technologies and tools to help states save time, save money, and save lives.

Today, FHWA announced a request for help as we build EDC3, the next wave of Every Day Counts (EDC) technologies -- at www.fbo.gov.

EDC3 builds on the efforts that Victor Mendez launched in 2010 as FHWA Administrator to promote strategies and technologies that provide state and local governments with innovative solutions that can save them both time and money.

Every Day Counts website banner

Continue Reading EDC3: Seeking New Ideas to ››
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I was in San Antonio, Texas, yesterday, with Mayor Julian Castro, and while I was there I learned that one of the Alamo City's taglines is "Something to Remember." After reviewing the city's cutting edge public transit facilities, I can see several reasons why.

From the Primo Bus Rapid Transit service to the Westside Multimodal Transit Center and the planned streetcar lines, the region's VIA Metropolitan Transit truly offers something to remember.

Photo montage of Primo bus service

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During the past week, we've been looking at the 2013 accomplishments of some of the agencies within DOT. Today, we're wrapping up our retrospective with a look at some of what we achieved across multiple modes of transportation.

2013 was a year of big changes at DOT. We operated under the first full calendar year of MAP-21, the current national surface transportation law, including its expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program, or TIFIA. We also launched our National Freight Advisory Committee to help guide the Department's freight improvement efforts. And of course, we welcomed aboard our current Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, while saying goodbye to outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood. But as you’ll see below, one thing that didn’t change is our commitment to safety.

Photo of the front of D.O.T. headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Continue Reading 2013 DOT Year in Review: ››
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Photo of RITA Administrator Greg WinfreeYear in and year out, DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) coordinates the Department's research programs. From the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to universities across the country, we're working hard to advance new technologies and push the boundaries of American transportation.

I'm happy to say that 2013 was another productive year here at RITA with:

  • A new round of grants to University Transportation Centers;
  • Further developments in connected vehicles; and
  • A strong effort to improve safety through apps using publicly available data...
Continue Reading 2013 DOT Year in Review: ››
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Our core goal at the Federal Railroad Administration is to ensure continuous safety improvement. Year after year, this is our measuring stick for success –and we are succeeding.

Photo of F.R.A. Administrator SzaboOver the past decade, train accidents have declined 43 percent, including a 41 percent drop in derailments and a 34 percent drop in accidents at highway-rail grade crossings. Meanwhile, preliminary data for 2013 shows we’re on pace for another record-setting year in railroad safety, with reductions in all categories of accidents.

In 2013 we worked to drive continuous safety improvements by:

  • Advancing technical and human factors;
  • Responding decisively; and
  • Investing in high-performing rail...
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Photo of Chip JaenichenHere at the Maritime Administration (MARAD), we continue working tirelessly to improve our marine transportation system with innovative projects across the country.  As our economy rebuilds and jobs are created, we are reminded just how much the maritime industry has contributed to these growing numbers and more importantly. . . Why Maritime Matters!

That's why we spent 2013 continuing to:

  • Support port infrastructure in advance of a newly widened Panama Canal;
  • Invest in U.S. shipyards;
  • Move more freight on our rivers, Great Lakes, and waterways, as well as through American river, lake, and sea ports; and
  • Work toward a robust national maritime strategy...
Continue Reading 2013 DOT Year in Review: ››
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