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I want to congratulate the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association on 40 years of effective advocacy for road safety, fair treatment of America's truck drivers, and an efficient transportation network. OOIDA has come a long way since its beginnings at a truck stop on I-70. And today, the group is an important partner to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--particularly on safety issues.

The safety culture that OOIDA has developed among its members has been tremendously important--for commercial drivers, their families, and everyone on our roadways.

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During the government shutdown, we will not be posting new content to the Fast Lane blog, and we will not be approving comments to existing posts.

You can view the DOT 2014 Plan for Appropriation Lapse here.

Employees seeking additional information about their work status should visit www.dot.gov/status.

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The innovations that we need to advance America's transportation system require research --research in new technologies, new materials, and new methods. And DOT is proud to work with educators, students, and researchers across the country to support our nation’s transportation goals.

Over the last 25 years, DOT has supported the crucial work done by students and faculty at America's research institutions through the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program.  And yesterday, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) announced approximately $63 million in grants to 33 UTCs to advance research and education programs addressing critical transportation challenges facing our nation, from environmental sustainability to safety. 

The participating universities play a vital role in developing both our transportation system and a professional workforce with the expertise and knowledge to tackle the transportation challenges of the future.

Photo montage of transportation modes

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The economic recovery continues to offer new opportunities for the U.S. maritime industry and the U.S.-flag fleet, and I am excited that our nation’s international shipping community has capitalized on these opportunities and is poised to expand even further.  Recently, at the inaugural Tradewinds Jones Act Forum, I discussed the changes affecting the coastwise U.S.-flag maritime industry -- also known as the Jones Act fleet.

Since its enactment, the Jones Act continues to ensure a level playing field for U.S. vessels moving cargo within the nation. The Act keeps skilled American mariners employed aboard American ships by requiring that products moved between U.S. ports be carried by U.S. vessels manned by U.S. crews.  More recently, the Jones Act has been a catalyst for growth in the maritime industry and also our economy.

Photo of Chip Jaenichen

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The 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 gives us a chance to reflect on the progress we've made and the challenges that still exist for people with disability in the 21st Century.   As the predecessor to the Americans with Disability Act, the Rehabilitation Act continues to serve as the foundation for enhancing access for all Americans.

Section 504 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs receiving federal funding.   While many people are familiar with the idea of accessible sidewalks, and buses,  one of the lesser-known keys to achieving transportation progress for people with disabilities is access to travel training.

Learning to navigate the available options safely and confidently can make a big difference not just in your mobility, but in your quality of life and the number of opportunities open to you.

Photo of student in wheelchair on streetcar

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On Monday, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari wrote about the Federal Aviation Administration's commitment to modernizing our national airspace through NextGen. 

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Ensuring that producers and suppliers can ship freight effectively from coast to coast and to markets around the world is a key part of the DOT mission. But when American forces are deployed abroad, the cargo supporting their efforts becomes particularly important, and our Maritime Administration (MARAD) works hard to sustain our troops with the food, equipment, and personnel they need to do their jobs and return home safely.

Yesterday at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Acting Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen reminded students that "logistics matter." The business of moving, supplying, and maintaining our joint forces is critical to their success. Logistics determine whether we can deploy a force at all; they determine where and when we can do so; and they determine the tempo and reach with which our forces can fight.

Acting Administrator Jaenichen also made it clear to students that, when it comes to logistics, MARAD has their backs.

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New lanes, safety improvements coming to I-35W in Tarrant County

During his public swearing-in, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, "We're living in an era in which we have to work harder than we ever have to stretch our transportation dollars even further. The American people are counting on us to be good stewards of their tax dollars—while still maintaining and building the infrastructure they need."

Last week, DOT took another step forward in that mission when the Federal Highway Administration announced a TIFIA loan for I-35W in Tarrant County, Texas. The North Tarrant Express project will relieve one of the Lone Star State’s most congested corridors and improve safety by upgrading the expressway and adding two new lanes in each direction.

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On Friday, the NextGen Institute held its annual public meeting, and I was pleased to speak about DOT’s commitment to investing in the aviation infrastructure America needs to thrive in the 21st century.

The Institute is a partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry to work together on the definition, goals, development, and implementation of our Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

Our airspace system has served us well for over a half century.  The challenge we face today is ensuring that this system will continue to serve us well in the future.

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Last week, we wrote about the safety efforts of the It Can Wait campaign, which is urging everyone to pledge to never text and drive and to ask others to do the same.

Today, we want to thank the young safety advocates who attended the 2013 National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit.

In addition to those who came to Washington, DC, for Friday's summit, we're also grateful to the NOYS advocates who couldn't make the trip but who work year-round in their schools and communities to promote safe driving.

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