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It takes organizations like COMTO, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, to ensure that minority transportation workers aren’t unfairly denied higher-paying jobs or promotions, and that minority-owned, small, and disadvantaged businesses (DBEs) get a fair shot at contracting opportunities.

At DOT, we support that effort, too –not just making sure we rebuild America’s infrastructure, but making sure that all Americans can participate in building it. And last week, we raised the stakes with a new rule designed to improve our DBE program regulations...

Photo of construction work on the I-70 Stan Musial Bridge

Continue Reading New rule opens the door to ››
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Carrying 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade, our maritime transportation system, which includes America’s ports, is a crucial component of our nation’s economy. And with our growing population --and the associated need to increase the amount of freight our transportation network carries-- maritime’s value will only grow in the future.

This point is not lost on the Obama Administration, and it’s the reason why Vice President Joe Biden joined U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Virginia Port Authority CEO/Executive Director John Reinhart, and me at the Port of Virginia in Norfolk on Wednesday. We were there to highlight the Port’s role as an economic engine for the region and its continued development of facilities and services in anticipation of the need to move greater freight volumes...

Photo of VP Biden in Norfolk

Continue Reading Vice President Biden ››
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This morning, in Detroit, I went back to school. I was in Detroit to announce a $25 million grant to purchase 50 new buses as part of an effort to bring safer, more reliable transit. 
 
This grant is a part of a $100-million-dollar announcement from the Federal Transit Administration that includes 23 other, similar recipients across America. And it’s part of a larger effort DOT is making to open up the door of opportunity to more Americans, wherever they live, whatever their background, whatever their economic circumstances. 
 
For me, this announcement was more than business as usual. And instead of addressing a group of city officials –probably in suits and perhaps with a bus as our backdrop— I made the announcement at Cass Technical High School to an audience of students.

Photo of passengers boarding Detroit bus

Why on earth would I share this news there? Why would a group of young students care about new city buses?
 
Because the young men and women at Cass Tech are doing more than just filling seats; they’re preparing. They are the hope of Detroit and of Michigan and of America. 
Continue Reading Transit grants will fill ››
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Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) is coming soon (October 6-10), but there's still plenty of time to prepare.

DSWW, sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, is an opportunity for executive leadership to adopt employee safe driving as part of their corporate culture. NETS provides tools and ideas to start, expand, and sustain an effective road safety program...

Continue Reading Drive Safely Work Week an ››
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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...

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking with workers at Kawaskai's Lincoln, NE railcar plant

Continue Reading An important Civics lesson ››
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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...

Continue Reading With DOT support, maritime ››
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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...

Continue Reading DOT’s TIGER, connecting ››
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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.

Photo of South Ferry subway station after Hurricane Sandy

Continue Reading DOT Awards $3.59 Billion to ››
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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.

Photo of M/V CAPE RAY

Continue Reading Honoring the Merchant ››
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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.

Continue Reading Runway extension in South ››
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