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If you’re like most people, the global supply chain isn’t exactly must-see TV. You’ve heard about it, and you know it plays a role in your life, but it’s kind of abstract. So let’s talk about something you can feel: that smartphone in your pocket or purse.

It’s safe to say that most of us have smartphones, but we don’t often consider the logistics that go into their creation.

The phone I carry was designed in Canada and manufactured in China. It contains glass from the Dow Corning Plant in my home state of Kentucky, software written in South Carolina, a processor from South Korea, a semiconductor from Germany, flash memory from Japan, and rare earth elements from India, Brazil and South Africa.

Cruising across oceans in containerships and crossing countries and borders in trucks and trains, the world’s raw materials head to factories, and finished goods head to stores –and eventually into consumers’ hands. It is a complex system that makes this possible.

Photo of laden container ship

And America’s transportation infrastructure is our ticket into this system...

Continue Reading GROWing U.S. Contributions ››
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Public transportation can be a real lifeline. And nowhere is that more apparent than in America’s rural communities. Great distances between homes, workplaces, schools, and vital services --plus the aging of the U.S. population-- present rural residents and the transit agencies that serve them with significant challenges.

Since 1985, the Federal Transit Administration has recognized great work in rural transit by presenting Administrator’s Awards for Outstanding Public Transportation Service in Rural Public Transportation. Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting this year’s awards to five very deserving rural transit systems from across the country. By enhancing mobility and increasing access to employment, these unsung heroes of transportation have done an exceptional job of connecting rural residents to ladders of opportunity...

Photo of NCRTD bus

Continue Reading FTA Recognizes Five ››
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In both Normal, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota, USDOT stimulus grants for multimodal transportation facilities are still creating good construction jobs and revitalizing urban neighborhoods. The success of these modest, one-time investments suggests that a more robust federal commitment to transportation—such as that envisioned in the GROW America Act—could be strengthening local economies everywhere.

That’s the takeaway from two recent studies by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan group based in Washington, DC, that promotes smart growth for working families. These studies are online at www.goodjobsfirst.org.

The studies detail the job-creation benefits of the new Uptown Station in Normal and the restoration of the St. Paul Union Depot. Both projects were financed in part by Transportation Infrastructure Generating Employment Recovery (TIGER) grants, a part of the federal stimulus that has since been continued and would be expanded under the GROW America Act...

Photo of construction work for Uptown Station
Continue Reading Stimulus Investments in ››
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Sometimes, wisdom comes from unexpected corners. That's why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt partnership invite kids every year to create safety posters for the "Be ready. Be buckled." art contest. And this year's contest has begun!

The contest educates kids about highway safety and asks them to urge their parents and neighbors to buckle up for every trip, especially if they are commercial drivers. It's open from now through February 28, 2015, to students in kindergarten through sixth grade with relatives or sponsors in the commercial truck and bus industries. You can see the entry form for complete rules.

We know that seat belts save lives. But according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, nearly 700 occupants of large trucks were killed in crashes. Further analysis by the FMCSA reveals that approximately 40 percent of those drivers were not wearing safety belts...

Winning poster from 2010

Continue Reading Kids invited to share ››
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So, you've spent your Sunday setting the clocks in your home back an hour. Now, it's time to think about the road safety consequences of the time change and the onset of less and less daylight as fall turns to winter.

Generally, evening hours are the deadliest time on the road, so drivers and pedestrians should be on guard with the end of Daylight Saving Time when we essentially add an hour of evening.

The time change means that darkness abruptly falls an hour early. So today, if you're used to driving around in afternoon light at 4 p.m., the roads are going to look a lot different in what will now be evening light. Adjust your driving accordingly...

Graph showing time-of-day frequency for pedestrian fatailities in 2012

Continue Reading When the clocks change, so ››
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Remember when the Highway Trust Fund was running out of money, and state departments of transportation warned they’d have to cancel projects? That was a dark hour for America. But some thought that when Congress passed a ten-month funding patch in August, the worst was over.

It wasn’t over. Not even close. 

The Tennessee DOT is delaying $400 million in road projects. It turns out, the patch Congress passed didn’t end the uncertainty over transportation funding; it perpetuated it. As TDOT Commissioner John Shroer wrote in a letter to state legislators last Friday, "The instability in the flow of these dollars is certainly having an impact in Tennessee."

At USDOT, we knew this would happen. We said this would happen.

And now we’re seeing the terrible – and very predictable – outcome. 

Letter from TDOT to Tennessee state legislators

Continue Reading Not hiring: A Tennessee ››
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Is there any holiday that’s more fun than Halloween? My son doesn’t think so. Let’s see...he gets to dress up, act silly, and eat candy! Hard to top that.

But whether you’re a kid out trick-or-treating or a kid at heart attending a costume party, we should all recognize that several factors combine on Halloween that could ruin a good time:

  • Halloween arrives just as the days get shorter, and it signals that nights will soon fall even earlier thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time.
  • The holiday also means more pedestrians on the road—and many are excited young children who don’t always walk as safely as they should.
  • Even scarier, Halloween falling on a weekend night means more adults enjoying parties. Often, that involves alcohol—and then getting behind the wheel.

Halloween can unleash a witch’s brew of roadway dangers...

Photo of trick-or-treaters

Continue Reading Stay Safe this Halloween: ››
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Today in Throwback Thursday-land, we're dialing up a Fast Lane post from September 6, 2013.

Writing about a TIGER grant for Lee County, Florida, road and trail improvements to save the lives of pedestrians and bicyclists, Secretary Foxx says, "We want to be a partner with Lee County in improving the safety and vitality of the community."

That's exactly what the TIGER program--created by the Recovery Act that President Obama signed within less than a month of taking office--has allowed us to do.

And if Congress passes the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA Act, we'll be able to continue supporting state and local efforts like those in Lee County. Efforts that boost safety, create jobs, and increase affordable transportation options for America's middle class.

Lee County TIGER Award an Investment in Safety

Thanks in part to DOT's TIGER program, Lee County, Florida, is on the brink of transformation...

Continue Reading Throwback Thursday: Lee ››
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When our transportation system is not as efficient as it needs to be, we don't just calculate the cost in congestion on our roadways. We must also measure it by our inability to get essential supplies to our armed forces overseas. The ability to move the food, equipment, and supplies our forces need to do their jobs and safely return home is a critical requirement for our nation’s transportation system.

When our transportation system is stronger, our military is stronger.

That's why the Department of Transportation works closely with the U.S. Transportation Command to ensure that America can meet its strategic deployment requirements and sustain our military. And yesterday, at the Fall Meeting of the National Defense Transportation Association and USTRANSCOM, it was clear that we must continue to do so...

Photo from wheelhouse of military vessel in busy port
Photo credit USTRANSCOM.
Continue Reading When our transportation is ››
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Eastern North Carolina struggles with persistent poverty.  The region was hit hard by the recession.

But what I saw during my visits with Congressman G.K. Butterfield to the towns of Kinston and Mount Olive really impressed me.  Eastern North Carolina is bouncing back.  And they’re doing it by rebuilding their economy around transportation.

Federal investments in passenger rail and transit are benefiting the region. In fact, in other cities like Los Angeles and Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh, passengers are riding trains that, in a sense, are powered by Mount Olive company, IMPulse...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at ImPulse
Photo courtesy U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield!
Continue Reading Eastern North Carolina ››
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