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Last week, DOT’s Maritime Administration released the first of a comprehensive, multi-phase study forecasting the impact that the Panama Canal expansion will have on U.S. ports and our overall transportation system.

A key aspect to the study is an evaluation of our ports’ general “readiness” to handle the increased traffic that the widened canal will bring, both in cargo volume and vessel size.

For decades, the size of the Panama Canal has been a constraint on the maritime industry, which has been building ships that significantly exceed the canal's navigable dimensions, limiting direct international trade options, most especially for East and Gulf Coast ports of the United States.

Photograph of a container ship at Port of Baltimore   

Continue Reading Panama Canal Expansion – ››
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Excavation damage is a leading cause of serious pipeline incidents, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our State Damage Prevention grants, which are now open for applications, foster strong state programs that work to eliminate these accidents entirely through education, technology, enforcement, and by coordinating communications between pipeline operators and excavators.

At PHMSA, we work to oversee a nationwide network of pipelines, but excavation happens at a local level. These grants support state efforts to create programs that can address each state’s unique needs. In short, these state programs account for that last mile in getting information about pipeline safety to the people who need it.

Continue Reading State Partnerships Make a ››
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Sometimes, it's good to close the book on one tradition and open the book on another.  Particularly when we're saying goodbye to a tradition of excessive fumes and round-the-clock noise, and welcoming a new tradition of good environmental stewardship and being a better neighbor.

That's exactly what we're helping the families of Baltimore's Midway neighborhood do by supporting construction of a new bus maintenance facility to replace the Kirk Avenue depot.

Photo of Deputy Secretary Porcari in construction machine

Last week, residents living near the existing depot turned out to witness a new beginning. Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and I --along with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, and Maryland Transportation Secretary James Smith-- joined them to break ground on a new facility made possible by a $45 million commitment from the Obama Administration.

The fact that so many residents were present is a strong indication of what this project means for their community.

Continue Reading Neighbors welcome improved ››
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Photo of DOT CIO Richard McKinneyIn addition to Small Business Saturday, November 30 was also a critical deadline for DOT to reach some of the milestones in President Obama's Executive Order on Open Data. I'm happy to say that this Department has met its obligations.

But, more than just meeting our requirements, opening our data is about unleashing the power of information for public use.

The Federal Government collects and creates a vast amount of statistical, economic, financial, geospatial, regulatory, and scientific data, but much of it remains in unusable formats or trapped in government systems where it can't be accessed by the public.  Even when it was technically available online, it could be hard to find...and even harder to use.

Over the past few years, the Obama Administration has launched a series of Open Data initiatives, which, for the first time in history, have released valuable data sets that were previously hard to access in areas such as safety, energy, and transportation.

Continue Reading DOT meets Executive Order, ››
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Obama Administration officials mark Small Business Saturday

Welcome back from Thanksgiving and a long weekend of themed retail days. As you can see below, I got “Small Business Saturday” started on the right foot this year.

Photo of Secretary Foxx trying on running shoes

And I wasn't alone at the Charlotte Running Company; a lot of customers seemed to have the same idea I did about putting in some miles to work off Thanksgiving calories.

Continue Reading Honoring small business, ››
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The turkey is now leftovers. The excitement of Black Friday doorbusters at national retailers is giving way to a calmer holiday weekend. What now? 

We at DOT have two recommendations: Small Business Saturday, and safe, patient travel on Sunday.

As holiday gift season settles in, Small Business Saturday is a way to celebrate and support the small businesses that anchor our local communities and strengthen our economy.

Continue Reading Supporting small business, ››
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For those who pay attention to travel, the next five days are the Super Bowl. Airlines and Amtrak have geared up for peak passenger loads. And families and friends are looking forward to holiday gatherings that bring them once again close to their loved ones.

For the men and women we work with here at DOT --in Washington, DC, and in offices and air traffic control facilities across the country-- Thanksgiving is another opportunity to think about your safety. Your safety in the skies, your safety on the rails.

And, in particular, your safety over the road. Because this year, AAA projects that of the 43.4 million Americans who are traveling more than 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving, nearly 39 million of them will head out for their Thanksgiving destinations by car.

Photo of happy family preparing for a road trip
Keep your family smiling throughout your trip by driving safely.
Continue Reading We're thankful for ››
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In preparation for another record Thanksgiving holiday week, Amtrak is running every available passenger rail car in its fleet, while adding additional service in the Northeast Corridor, the Chicago hub, the Pacific Northwest, and in California.

This is hardly a surprise.  As I wrote on this blog recently, Amtrak has set annual ridership records in 10 out of the last 11 years, fueled by a growing demand in more than 500 communities nationwide.  That includes Missouri, where Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner – operating on a 238-mile rail line serving eight cities between St. Louis and Kansas City – has set six consecutive annual ridership records. 

Photo of F.R.A. Administrator Joe Szabo at the rail bridge opening
FRA Administrator Joe Szabo; photo courtesy Cathy Morrison, Missouri Department of Transportation.

Yesterday, in Osage City, I joined Missouri DOT, Union Pacific, and Amtrak at a ribbon cutting for a new railroad bridge that will eliminate the rail line’s last chokepoint between Jefferson City and St. Louis. And in addition to benefiting four daily passenger trains, the new railroad bridge also reduces delays for 60 daily freight trains, which is great news for Missouri’s farmers, manufacturers, and businesses...

Continue Reading Missouri Railroad Bridge ››
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Partnerships, investigations leading to worry-free moves

This year alone, more than 35 million Americans will move.  At the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we're working to ensure that families and their household possessions are protected during every one of those moves. 

Too often, families on the move are preyed upon by unscrupulous carriers.  Too often, they are overcharged when shipping their possessions to a new home. Too often, their treasured memories are held hostage until a high ransom is paid.

That’s why, at FMCSA, we’re cracking down against deceitful companies...

Continue Reading FMCSA Protects Consumers ››
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America's 4th largest city invests in its bicyclists and pedestrians

What does it mean to be multi-modal? For Houston, it means economic opportunity and new construction now...and 7 miles of paths, 10 miles of on-street bikeways, 11 miles of sidewalks, and 6 miles of pedestrian enhancements in the future.

That's thanks to the city's "Regional Bike/Pedestrian Connections to Transit" project, which broke ground today.  I was in Houston for the event and had the pleasure of joining U.S. Representatives Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Annise Parker, and other local officials to celebrate this terrific step forward.

Photo of the groundbreaking event for Houston's bike-ped project

Continue Reading Houston embraces multi- ››
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