As warmer weather settles in, the signs of summer are multiplying--community pools are gearing up for their Memorial Day Weekend opening, schools are holding graduation ceremonies, and families are planning vacation travel.
One thing that doesn't change with the season is DOT's effort to protect Americans when they travel by air. Thanks to our Aviation Consumer Protection Division, we're constantly working to protect people from the moment they begin planning their air travel to the moment they pick up their checked luggage. And today we're proposing new rules to strengthen that protection.
Today’s proposal would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose their fees for certain basic airline services such as checked baggage. It would require more carriers to report their performance data to DOT so consumers can be better informed. And, it would put into law DOT’s definition of a ticket agent so companies that get compensated for offering flight search tools stick to the rules.
The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is not just truck and bus safety; it also includes the safety of those operating around America's commercial vehicles.
In fact, most crashes involving a commercial vehicle --nearly 70 percent-- are not caused by the truck or bus driver. So one of FMCSA's ongoing safety efforts is educating non-commercial drivers about the handling differences between cars and large trucks and motorcoaches. Young drivers in particular need to learn how to maneuver safely near large vehicles and avoid creating situations that endanger themselves and others. It's not always something they pick up in driver's ed courses, but out there on the road, it's lifesaving information.
That's why, in May, FMCSA kicked off Global Youth Traffic Safety Month by joining forces with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Fed Ex Ground, and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) in a “Teens & Trucks – Share the Road Safely” event. Near the National Mall, troopers from the Maryland State Police led demonstrations to show students from NOYS how to safeguard themselves as drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians around big trucks.
Yesterday, I visited two long-awaited projects in Florida, stopping first in Miami. That's where, last May, a giant drill named Harriet bored its way under the bay and broke through on Watson Island and the Port of Miami.
The Port’s new tunnels certainly are good for the city. The port moves thousands of containers every day, and one-in-five North American cruise passengers pass through there. Yet, before yesterday, the 16,000 vehicles traveling to the port each day only had one access point, so traffic backed up all the way to downtown.
The tunnels that opened yesterday will help help solve that problem, and their construction employed more than 500 people.
Right now, on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Dutch-owned vessel Fortunagracht is making its way toward Antwerp, Belgium, laden with cargo for export from businesses throughout Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and other Midwest states.
The Fortunagracht is the linchpin of the new Cleveland-Europe Express service, a two-year agreement between the Port of Cleveland and the Spliethoff Group, the Netherlands' largest ship-owner. The agreement guarantees direct monthly service between Cleveland and Antwerp, providing Midwest manufacturers a better deal than sending their goods by truck or rail to an East Coast port for eventual shipment across the Atlantic.
According to Forbes Magazine, Austin is the fastest growing city in America this year. But with all that growth can come some growing pains. And one example of those pains can be seen on US 290, east of downtown Austin, where traffic has increased more than 78 percent since 1990.
And that has left folks stuck in congestion--every day. Luckily, things are looking up for local residents with the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.
The benefits of this project can’t be overstated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions. And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.
I visited Austin on Saturday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.
The benefits of this project can’t be understated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions. And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.
At this Department, our top priority is ensuring the safety of the traveling public. It always has been.
Achieving that goal isn’t easy. It takes commitment from everyone with a stake in our transportation system. And we know no one is perfect. But what we cannot tolerate –what we will never accept– is a person or a company that knows danger exists, and says nothing.
Because silence can kill.
This morning, I was not about to let a little weather keep me from greeting the bicyclists who braved the rain on my first Bike To Work Day since becoming Transportation Secretary!
So I headed to Freedom Plaza, and was amazed to see that bike commuters were really coming out for this event despite the downpour. That's a tribute to their love of commuting by bicycle and also to the growing significance of Bike To Work Day as an annual celebration of bicycling as transportation.
Photos courtesy Matt Kroneberger, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
And it is something worth celebrating. In fact, over the last decade, commuting by bicycle is up more than 60 percent...
The deadline for submitting Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2014 grant applications recently passed, and--once again--the applications totaled far more than Congress set aside for these competitive awards. And, I'm not talking about a small difference.
DOT received $9.5 billion in applications for the $600 million available in our TIGER program--that's more than 15 times the amount we can award. The 797 eligible applications we received from 49 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia is also a big jump from the 585 submitted during last year's TIGER process.
These applicants confirm what I saw as I traveled through eight states and 13 cities as part of my Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour last month: America is hungry for infrastructure investment. And that's exactly why we sent our GROW AMERICA legislative proposal to Congress two weeks ago.
Earlier this week, the White House recognized its 2014 Champions of Change in transportation. We present these awards annually, but this year's nominees are doing more than just changing transportation. They're changing lives.
Because this year we’re focusing on “ladders of opportunity.”
This afternoon, I had the great privilege of joining President Obama at theTappan Zee bridge, where work is underway to replace this nearly 60-year-old bridge with a new one, appropriately called the New NY Bridge. There, the President demonstrated his ongoing commitment to making 2014 a year of action by releasing a comprehensive plan to further accelerate project delivery by expanding his permitting reform efforts.
Fast Lane readers might recall that federal agencies completed the permitting and review for the New NY Bridge--a process that can take as long as 5 years--in about 1.5 years. So, it's a terrific example of how we can meet the Administration's goal of cutting timelines for major projects in half--and in this case even more than that.
Photo courtesy Peter Carr, The Journal News
Today, more commuters and commercial vehicles use this bridge than ever before – more than 138,000 vehicles a day--that's a 30 percent jump in traffic from 1990. We know that for them, every day counts until they get a new bridge....