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Yesterday, we honored the individual and team achievements of the hardworking professionals of DOT with our 46th annual Secretary's Awards. It was truly a celebration.

But among all of the terrific personnel we celebrated, we had the opportunity to single out one of our family for special distinction: Deputy Secretary John Porcari...

Photo of 46th annual Secretary's Awards at D.O.T.

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Here at the Department of Transportation, a critical part of our mission is to improve our transportation system and help grow our national economy. For the Maritime Administration (MARAD), that means using all of the resources we have available to develop our nation’s ports.

It might surprise you to know these resources include assets other than grant funding, but a couple of weeks ago, I was in New Orleans to participate in the official land transfer of the Poland Street Wharf to the Port of New Orleans.

Photo of Poland Street Wharf

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Help is on the way in one of Southern California’s most congested corridors, thanks to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) $75 million commitment to extend the Metrolink commuter rail system 24 miles from Riverside to Perris.

I was delighted to be in Perris earlier this week with U.S. Representatives Ken Calvert and Mark Takano, and Perris City Mayor Daryl Busch to celebrate an agreement that provides funding through FTA’s highly competitive Capital Investment Grant Program, known as New Starts / Small Starts.

Photo of Metrolink train

This Small Starts investment, which will pay for roughly a third of the project --with an additional $63 million in other U.S. Department of Transportation funds also provided-- will give working families the option of a faster, more convenient commute and enhance access to jobs for those needing reliable, affordable transportation...

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While winter weather continues to disrupt work, school, and travel in many parts of the country, the busy folks at the North Pole are taking it in stride. Whether it's readying the launch of three navigation satellites for Santa's annual circumnavigation or hosting the arrival of thousands of children via United Airlines Fantasy Flights, December is the month they prepare for all year.

And it looks like they've outdone themselves once again.

On December 3, the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation granted launch licenses for three rockets carrying Santa's private navigation satellites. The satellites --Rudolph 1, 2, and 3-- will launch from the FAA-licensed Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island in Alaska. In orbit, they will form the Evolved Location Flight System (ELFS) constellation and track Santa's location at any given time. A transmitter will send Santa's location to Mrs. Claus at the North Pole Mission Operations Center (NPMOC).

Graphic of elves working on rocket launch

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Four decades ago, when Lyndon Johnson signed the order to create the Department of Transportation, it read, “The Secretary should give top priority to the safety of our people as they travel by land, sea, or air.”

Today, that statement remains truer than ever – especially when it comes to distracted driving.

Poster from Put It Down campaign

Just as distracted driving was a priority under Secretary LaHood, it will receive my full efforts, as well...

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For the first time in half a century, streetcars have returned to Salt Lake City’s historic Sugar House neighborhood.

Even before the new S-Line began operating last week, the project had already done wonders for the city’s bottom line—jump-starting roughly $400 million in economic development that’s completed or underway, including hundreds of new apartments. That’s what transit-oriented development is all about: bringing access to housing, transit, and jobs together in a way that makes sense for how families, young professionals, seniors, and others want to live today.

Poster from Utah Transit featuring S-line streetcar

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It's no secret that seat belts save lives. They save lives in passenger vehicles, and they save lives in large trucks. But they can only save lives when drivers and passengers buckle up.

To educate kids about the importance of seat belts and to urge America's commercial drivers to buckle up on every trip, our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is holding its annual "Be Ready. Be Buckled." safety belt art contest. It's one of the highlights of the DOT safety calendar, and we urge you to share the news with young poster artists and safety advocates.

Caleb Zhao's grand prize winning poster
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Last year, for the first time in 55 years, Louisville, Kentucky's "Appliance Park" began running a new assembly line. Refrigerators and washing machines started leaving the loading docks again, and workers' cars started showing up in the parking lot.

Louisville isn’t the only place this is happening. This is just one chapter in larger success story chronicling the recent resurgence of American manufacturing.

At DOT, we’re thinking about the next chapter of this manufacturing renaissance: about how those fridges and washing machines get from the loading dock to American stores and global markets, and about how those workers get home at the end of their shifts...

Photo of workers at G.E.'s Appliance Park

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If you were among the more than 2 million people injured in a vehicle crash last year, you likely have a special appreciation for the brave men and women who work in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Every day, in every community, courageous EMS professionals play an essential role in roadway safety by rushing into often dangerous situations in order to provide care and save lives. They are often underappreciated, but they serve an essential role in roadway safety.

That’s why DOT and NHTSA have long been partners and supporters of America's EMS professionals.

Photo of EMS responders on the scene of a night-time crash

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Last week, DOT’s Maritime Administration released the first of a comprehensive, multi-phase study forecasting the impact that the Panama Canal expansion will have on U.S. ports and our overall transportation system.

A key aspect to the study is an evaluation of our ports’ general “readiness” to handle the increased traffic that the widened canal will bring, both in cargo volume and vessel size.

For decades, the size of the Panama Canal has been a constraint on the maritime industry, which has been building ships that significantly exceed the canal's navigable dimensions, limiting direct international trade options, most especially for East and Gulf Coast ports of the United States.

Photograph of a container ship at Port of Baltimore   

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