Last weekend, President Obama marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War by honoring the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and their allies. Acting Maritime Administrator, Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen attended on behalf of the United States Merchant Marine, whose vessels and mariners delivered to the war zone 75 percent of the troops and 90 percent of the mail, food, ammunition, and other supplies.
In December 1950, in what has been called the greatest maritime rescue in history, crewmembers of the SS Meredith Victory, a cargo ship, evacuated more than 14,000 civilians fleeing the war from the port of Hungnam. The vessel departed the port under gunfire and made it to Geoje Island without a single casualty.
Whether it's excelling as a transit mechanic or running a state DOT, the transportation industry has no shortage of evidence demonstrating that women have plenty of what it takes to succeed. In trucking, for example, we've seen this firsthand thanks to Ellen Voie and Women In Trucking, who have worked so hard to open the door for more and more women to enter the industry.
Last Sunday, the Cleveland Indians acknowledged this effort by celebrating women in all transportation careers, and I was honored to be at Progressive Field and watch Ellen throw out the first pitch.
We know from other partnerships with our sister agencies, that when it comes to meeting challenges, a coordinated approach is a better approach. Whether it's the White House Rural Council or the inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, combining our efforts and resources is simply a more efficient way to get things done. So at DOT, we're happy to join our efforts to improve transportation in Indian Country with the work of other Federal agencies.
DOT has already been hard at work helping develop locally-supported transportation projects that connect tribal communities with opportunity.
From day one, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has talked about transportation as a lifeline connecting people with opportunities and services. And today, the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is a fitting reminder that the work we do at DOT makes transportation more and more accessible...for everyone.
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.