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Photo of Victor MendezThe end of the year is a good time for reflection and looking back, 2013 was filled with accomplishments for the Federal Highway Administration. The new I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State is a good example of the outstanding work done this year by FHWA in partnership with state and local transportation agencies and the private sector.

Just four weeks after the old bridge collapsed on the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, the Washington State DOT put a temporary span in place.  And fewer than four months after the collapse, a permanent span was open for business on a route that’s vital to motorists and freight movement in the Pacific Northwest. This work is a fitting representative of FHWA, because it shows how our commitment to using innovative tools and solutions is paying off.

The larger themes that make 2013 a year of accomplishment for FHWA are represented in that example:

  • Implementing MAP-21;
  • Continuing to work with our partners through our Every Day Counts innovation initiative; and
  • Helping Americans respond to disaster with Emergency Relief...
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Photo of NHTSA Administrator David StricklandToday, technology moves at the speed of light. That’s why at NHTSA, we act affirmatively to advance technologies that will save lives and create a regulatory environment that encourages innovation and big thinking about vehicle technology.

This year, we worked to advance the adoption of technologies that will deliver enormous lifesaving potential while also ensuring that new vehicle features don’t undermine safety through:

  • Significant and Seamless initiative;
  • SaferCar app; and
  • Manufacturer guidelines for in-vehicle technologies...
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Photo of Cynthia QuartermanAt PHMSA, our priority is to make sure that hazardous materials are transported safely and efficiently. Over the past year, we’ve done a lot to promote innovation, raise awareness, and improve operations to achieve our safety goals.

This year, PHMSA:

  • Enhanced training and outreach capabilities.
  • Provided nearly $75 million to vital safety partners.
  • Cut red tape for businesses working with PHMSA.
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Our dedicated FAA team works hard all year to ensure we have the best and safest aviation system in the world. And tonight our air traffic controllers will have the opportunity to work with the world’s safest pilot.

Santa Claus has been flying accident-free for centuries, and today our FAA safety inspectors have cleared Santa One--the world’s only known reindeer-powered aircraft--to deliver presents to children around the world.

Screen capture from the F.A.A. Santa website

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The High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail program (HSIPR) doesn’t just mean faster trains and improved transportation choices for travelers across the country – it’s also strengthening the economy and creating jobs for people who may have never been on a train.  So far, the US Department of Transportation has invested $808 million in multi-state procurements of next-generation rail equipment. What have we got in return?

Across the country, our Buy America program, which requires 100% of all rail equipment to be American made, is spurring economic growth and laying a foundation for a passenger rail network that is safer, faster, more reliable, and offers more service.

Photo of Siemens Cities Sprinter locomotive, designed for Amtrak use

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Whether you're staying home, hitting the road, riding the rails, or taking to the skies this holiday season, we at the U.S. Department of Transportation want you to be as safe as possible. And while we can't offer you much in the way of safety advice for staying in one place, we can help you out when you're on the move.

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Receives "Partner of the Office of Water" Award for 2012

At DOT’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), we are hard at work strengthening America’s marine transportation system to meet our economic and security needs while ensuring that our waterways are environmentally sustainable.

That’s why it gives me great pleasure to share the news that, earlier this week, Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook was awarded the “Partner of the Office of Water Award” for 2012 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his outstanding leadership supporting environmental protection in the Great Lakes region.

Photo of Deputy Administrator MIddlebrook receiving the EPA award

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s more than 55,000 employees know that transportation is a vital economic engine, and they come to work every day on a mission to make transportation as safe and efficient as possible. That's why we're committed to making DOT one of the best places to work in the federal government.

And it's why we're happy to learn that, in the 2013 rankings of Best Places to Work released today, the Department is ranked as the 8th best among large federal agencies. This is up one notch from 2012 and marks the continued success of a deliberate turnaround underway since ranking last in the 2009 survey.

We're also happy to report that the Surface Transportation Bureau once again ranked 1st among small agencies, and the Federal Highway Administration ranked as the 5th best place to work among subcomponent agencies...

Photo of D.O.T. headquarters

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Congratulations to the faculty and staff here at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Their achievements this year--honored last week at the annual Maritime Administration awards ceremony--are a testament to the continued improvements being carried out every day at the Academy.

The dedication of the entire USMMA faculty and staff is felt far beyond the walls of the Academy, and I hope you'll join me in thanking them for their service...

Photo of the bell at Kings Point

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This is traditionally a season for giving, for selflessness.  And I can’t think of anything more antithetical to that spirit--anything more selfish--than drinking, getting behind the wheel, and risking not just your own life, but the lives of others.

Photo of a police car with siren lit and the text "It's hard to have a happy holiday when you're arrested for drunk driving."

Yet every December and January, after Christmas celebrations and New Year’s parties, people still do exactly that. And they do it in greater numbers than at any other time of year.  In fact, every 54 minutes during the holiday season, drunk driving claims another life.

That’s why today, I joined National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland to remind people that if they do decide to drink and drive, the red lights they see in their rear-view mirror won’t be Santa’s sleigh. They’ll be a police car.

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