I met some good people yesterday. Yerimi Felipe and Roxana Espino work building rail transit cars at the Kawasaki Plant in Lincoln, Nebraska. That's 1,000 miles from Washington, DC, and it's probably safe to say that no one in Washington knows Yerimi and Roxana. That includes the DC-area commuters who will someday be riding in the new Metro cars built in Lincoln. And that includes the Members of Congress whose decisions on transportation funding in the coming months will have a profound impact on Yerimi, Roxana, and their co-workers in Nebraska.
Yerimi builds some of the railcar doors; Roxana does wiring for communication systems. They're married, with two kids, and they're trying to figure out how to send their son, Kelvin, to college next year. They work hard; they have busy lives. So they don’t necessarily have time to follow everything that’s going on in DC. Nevertheless, Yerimi and Roxana say they trust that Congress will do what's best for the people.
I hope they're right...
President Obama has taken unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment. The maritime industry understands and embraces this thinking not only because it makes sense, but also as it will be essential to future viability of marine transportation. The industry continues to take a leading role in environmental responsibility and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is helping them chart the course.
With two recently released reports examining storage and bunkering options for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and providing vital data on natural gas emissions, MARAD’s Office of Environment and Safety is providing information the industry needs to transition to cleaner burning fuels. And by identifying potential challenges and recommending best practices and new standards, MARAD is working to streamline the development of a transportation network that supports the integration of natural gas as a marine fuel.
Yesterday, we took another step forward with approval of a $324.6 million Title XI loan guarantee to TOTE Shipholdings, Inc., a 2014 White House Transportation Champion of Change, to finance construction of two container ships that will use LNG as propulsion fuel...
Last week, I had the chance to visit Waterbury, Connecticut, and St. Louis, Missouri, where I had the pleasure of announcing two exciting and transformative TIGER grants that will help invigorate these communities.
With the support of TIGER, these projects will help connect people to jobs, schools, and green spaces --and in doing so, improve their quality of life and access to opportunities...
Since Hurricane Sandy, we've made great progress rebuilding critical transit connections. But as we grapple with the impacts of climate change and the potential for stronger storms in the future, we want to make sure no one pays for these repairs twice. So today, DOT announced that 40 projects in areas affected by Sandy have been selected for $3.59 billion in grants to help public transportation systems become stronger and better able to withstand future storms.
Within hours after Sandy hit, men and women from DOT were on the ground –sometimes waist-deep in water– working shoulder-to-shoulder with local teams to assess the damage and to help repair the busiest public transportation network in the United States.
Today, we’ve reached another milestone in that effort. Because we know it’s not enough to recover from the last storm; we have to rebuild to withstand the next one.
Today, I had the distinct honor of personally thanking the all-volunteer U.S. Merchant Marine crew of the M/V CAPE RAY upon completion of a historic and unprecedented task that has made our world a safer place.
I previously wrote about the M/V CAPE RAY—one of the 46 Ready Reserve Force vessels maintained by the Maritime Administration (MARAD)—earlier this summer to highlight the vessel's modification to safely destroy the Syrian regime’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.
When you extend a runway at South Florida's second-busiest airport, it involves a little more than roto-tilling a patch of grass. Building the 8,000-foot long, 17-inch thick South Runway that opened yesterday at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) actually required 12 different tunnels --to accommodate roads as well as railroad tracks-- 535,000 square yards of concrete, and 90 miles of electrical and lighting cable.
Last week, the City of Philadelphia celebrated the grand opening of its new Dilworth Park adjacent to the historic City Hall. The park brings a vibrant new public space and more accessible public transportation to the heart of the city, replacing an inaccessible, multi-level, deteriorated plaza that consisted of numerous stairs, walls, and barriers.
The project helps restore William Penn’s original, 17th-Century plans for the City of Brotherly Love’s civic spaces. It also creates new access to contemporary features of city life that Penn could never have anticipated: including multiple bus lines, two subway lines, five trolley lines, thirteen regional railroad lines, and a high-speed rail line to southern New Jersey.
This ambitious reimagining of the former Dilworth Plaza was made possible by a 2010 TIGER grant from the US Department of Transportation. And, as we celebrate the latest round of TIGER grants supporting 72 projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia, it’s proof of the kind of transformation these grants make possible for their communities.
As the father of a young son, I know the worries that accompany the joys of parenthood.
As a parent you will always worry; after all, it’s up to us to keep our children safe.
That’s why we’re reaching out directly to parents and to organizations committed to protecting children about car seat safety as part of Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from September 14-20. We want everyone to know that protecting children means researching the correct car seat, making sure it’s registered so you’re notified of any safety recalls, and—if you’re as committed to this issue as we are at NHTSA—to reaching out and spreading the word about car seat safety on social media this week...
When we talk about DOT's TIGER program, we often use the word, "transformative." Because the projects that we have selected for these grants since the program's beginning in 2009 have been projects that make a significant difference to their communities.
And this past weekend in Tulsa, I saw a terrific demonstration of TIGER's transformative power in not one --but two-- grrrrrreat! projects, the I-244 Bridges and the Riverside Drive-Gathering Place Multimodal Access Project...
Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez speaking at ribbon-cutting for I-244 Eastbound Bridge; photos by Stephen Pingry, Tulsa World.
Over the past few days, I've toured some of the projects selected to receive TIGER grants this year, and that includes the TRI-Mississippi Three-County Road Improvements Program. Now, Claiborne, Franklin, and Jefferson are among those counties with the fewest transportation options in America. To get anywhere in these rural counties –to run errands, to go to school, to commute to area employers like Grand Gulf Nuclear– you have to drive. There’s no other option.
Which would be fine. Except, the counties’ roads are crumbling; they flood easily; and their bridges are greatly in need of repair. In fact, 60 area bridges are rated “deficient.”
That’s why, this year, all of us at DOT were so pleased that Claiborne, Franklin, and Jefferson counties developed TRI-Mississippi to fix this problem...