Yesterday afternoon, DOT employees at our headquarters in Washington, DC, turned out for our annual Can Castle Competition. As part of the Feds Feed Families initiative, employees came together to build impressive displays out of cans, cereal boxes, and bottles of water to raise awareness for hunger.
While the can-sculpture competition is always a lot of fun, it also highlights a very serious issue.
Strong infrastructure is a key ingredient to a thriving economy
It was my distinct pleasure to tour the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, yesterday with President Obama. There, the President spoke with port officials about a challenge I saw firsthand as Mayor of Charlotte:
"The businesses of tomorrow will not locate near old roads, outdated ports -- they’re going to go to places where the ports are good, the roads are good, the rail lines are good, you’ve got high-speed Internet, you’ve got high-tech schools, trained workers, systems that move air traffic and auto traffic faster."
President Obama and this Department want to make sure that America's communities have what it takes to compete effectively in the 21st century global economy, and we want to put people to work right now helping them do exactly that.
You can read the President's remarks and watch video from Jacksonville at whitehouse.gov.
When all of the 11 states along a 2,900-mile interstate highway come together to solve a safety problem, that's one promising partnership. And that's exactly what got started yesterday in Des Moines with the launch of the Interstate 80 Challenge.
The I-80 Challenge is a multi-state awareness and high-visibility enforcement effort to encourage all drivers to drive safely on the Interstate 80 corridor and to support the efforts of the law enforcement officers who are out there every day trying to make our roads safer. The challenge runs from July 24 to July 31, and we at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration--are proud to join our state and local partners in this initiative.
Yesterday, I made my first Congressional appearance as Secretary where I discussed DOT's TIFIA loan program with the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Because our Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program (TIFIA) is so effective, it's a subject I'm happy to talk about.
TIFIA loans help projects secure far more funding than just what DOT extends, and this helps American taxpayers get way more bang for their buck. It is exactly the kind of program I was talking about last week when I blogged here about improving efficiency and maximizing the impact of every dollar entrusted to us.
Thanks to a recent report, we know that even though most U.S. shipyards are located in coastal areas, the economic ripple effect of America’s shipyards reaches all 50 states. In fact, the study indicates that, in 2011, the shipbuilding industry supported 402,010 jobs, $23.9 billion of labor income and $36 billion in GDP.
That’s why this Administration has invested more than $150 million to boost U.S. shipyards, their workers, and the thousands of businesses that supply them. And it means that the $9.46 million in grants announced today by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) will pay dividends far beyond the 12 shipyards receiving them.
Accelerated Bridge Construction minimizes road closures and inconvenience
Last weekend, the Colorado DOT rolled into place the new I-70 / Pecos Street Bridge, a project supported by $4.38 million in federal funds. By building the bridge off-site then sliding it into place overnight--a technique advocated by FHWA's Every Day Counts initiative--CDOT was able to keep the highway lanes open as long as possible and limit closure to a single weekend. In fact, crews completed the roll-in and cleanup 4.5 hours ahead of an already ambitious schedule, further minimizing inconvenience to travelers. Congratulations, CDOT!
Cross-posted courtesy of the Morgan State University newsroom.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Porcari was on the campus of Morgan State University yesterday where he spoke to a group attending Morgan’s annual Summer Transportation Institutes for high school students and secondary school teachers. Deputy Secretary Porcari fielded questions about job opportunities for emerging engineers and specialists, and why the industry needs more young people for future growth.
“In the next few years, we will have a significant part of the transportation workforce become eligible for retirement, and that means we need your passion and vision for the industry in order for it to continue moving in the right direction,” Porcari told the group.
This Administration has been a strong supporter of marine transportation as an environmentally friendly alternative to road and rail when shipping goods throughout America. And the U.S. maritime industry is becoming even more environmentally-friendly each day. More and more shipyards and ports have made investments to reduce their footprint.
Yesterday I toured the Port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and was excited to see its efforts to reduce vessel emissions.
Minnesota's rebuilt I-35 Bridge just one example of what we can accomplish
Nearly six years ago, the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River. Yesterday, I toured the new I-35W crossing--which was rebuilt in little over a year and has become a symbol of what we can achieve when we commit ourselves and work together to meet the challenges facing America's roadways.
By collaborating at the local, state, and federal levels, transportation officials were able to complete the new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge more than three months ahead of schedule. So, no one appreciates the value of a strong commitment and an effective partnership more than U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who hosted my visit.
Our nation has grown faster than the capacity of our roadways. Across the country, commuters rushing to work, students heading to class, and moms and dads taking their kids to camps, schools, and day-care centers regularly drive over bridges that are carrying loads far beyond their intended capacity and far beyond their intended lifespan.
Putting rail on par with other modes of transportation will build on strong progress
This morning I was in New Haven, Connecticut, to talk about safety because I wanted my first official visit as Secretary to focus on DOT's first priority--safety. So, many thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro for welcoming me and giving me the opportunity to start my official travel on the right track.
If you follow transportation news, you probably remember the crash this spring of two Metro-North commuter trains in Connecticut. Although 2012 was the safest year in railroading history, the Metro-North crash reminds us that--when it comes to safety--our job is never done.
The investments we’re making in rail are increasing safety across the country. They are also helping local and state economies grow.