Our very first Congress singled out the domestic U.S. Merchant Marine as essential to our economy and national defense. That is why, from the beginnings of this nation, they took steps to secure the U.S. Merchant Marine fleet from foreign flag competition in coastwise domestic maritime trade.
Senator Wesley L. Jones sponsored the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – better known now as the Jones Act. For 94 years, that law has remained the cornerstone of U.S. maritime policy, a policy that was the center of discussion at yesterday’s 2nd Annual Tradewinds Jones Act Forum.
There, I joined maritime industry experts and stakeholders in recognizing that, while some sectors of America’s economy have seen operations and jobs shift to countries abroad, this hasn’t been the case for our maritime industry.
Cross-posted courtesy of the White House.
In President Obama’s first term, he called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to take action to double fuel economy standards by 2025 and cut vehicle greenhouse gas emissions in half. These actions combat climate change and help American families save money – more than $8,000 in fuel costs for each car by 2025.
In fact, over the duration of the program, Americans will save a total of $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels per day. And we are on track to roughly double fuel economy by 2025. This proves once again that addressing climate change can go hand in hand with strong economic growth.
Last year marked an important milestone in the Administration’s effort to fight climate change. According to EPA’s new Fuel Economy Trends Report, new vehicles in 2013 achieved their highest fuel economy of all time. Model year 2013 vehicles reached an average of 24.1 miles per gallon – a 0.5-mile-per-gallon increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 miles – or 25 percent – per gallon since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years, and our average carbon emissions last year hit a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.
As Secretary Foxx wrote here earlier this week, "The goods we transport are the lifeblood of our economy." And just as that's true, the flip side is also true: Our economy can only move as fast as we can move the goods that fuel it.
That's why it's so important that America continues to invest in the infrastructure that keeps our economy moving.
But some projects make a bigger difference than others. And Congress has asked DOT to develop a comprehensive list --based on input from our stakeholders-- of projects that can make the most significant difference regionally and nationally, and of recommendations for how to finance them...
Today is Walk To School Day, and I went back to my hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina, to help celebrate this annual push to get more kids to walk or bike to school and to do so safely. As you can imagine, the scene at Cotswold Elementary School --with hundreds of students, parents, and community members-- was a little wild and lots of fun.
Walk To School Day began in 1997, and it has been growing ever since. Last year, more than 4,400 cities in the U.S. registered some sort of Walk To School Day event, and this year, we've broken that record with more than 4,600 registered events taking place across America.
At DOT, we think it's kind of a big deal, and we're proud to support the National Center for Safe Routes to School, whose efforts make Walk To School Day possible each year...
Have you ever had a small rock hit your windshield while you're driving down the highway? It can be startling. But, while it might nick your windshield, it most likely won’t affect the safety of your drive.
Now imagine that, rather than a small pebble from the roadway, your car was struck by a large piece of cargo that fell loose from a truck, trailer, pickup, or someone's car roof.
At 55 miles per hour, an object weighing just 20 pounds that falls from a vehicle strikes with the impact of half a ton.
That’s what happened to Robin Abel’s daughter.
The goods we transport are the lifeblood of our economy. So as our nation moves freight into and out of the country, we depend on the efficiency of our ports and port facilities to keep that freight –and our economy— moving.
One of the key pieces in the freight puzzle is the challenge of the first and last miles, the transfer of goods between the container ships that tie up in our ports and the network of fast-moving rail and highway arteries that web our nation.
Yesterday at the Port of Seattle, I saw firsthand how intermodal freight transfer is an essential function in our transportation network and how it can clog the flow of goods. I also saw a port making strategic investments to speed up that transfer and maintain its competitiveness in the decades ahead...
Apparently, the first Friday in October is Manufacturing Day. I say "apparently" because here at DOT, we're thinking about America's manufacturers more often than that.
When we invest American dollars in transportation projects, those projects are made of manufactured items and vehicles. Track, ties, and locomotives for rail. Catenary and cars for streetcars. Buses and benches and shelters for public transit.
Then, there's the fact that these items and vehicles are built with component materials that are also manufactured --from innovative wheelsets to hybrid engines all the way down to the nuts and bolts that literally hold our transportation system together...
For years now, states, cities, and communities across the country have watched Portland, Oregon, emerge as a leader in urban transportation. From streetcars to light rail to bike lanes, Portland has been touted by more than one Secretary of Transportation for its forward thinking.
But today, other communities are joining the ranks of transportation innovators. Places like Omaha and Richmond are building bus rapid transit. Indianapolis is building bicycle and pedestrian paths, and like Portland, they’re seeing safety improve and businesses grow in the process.
Still I did see some evidence in Portland earlier this week that the Rose City is not giving up its innovation title without a fight...
The more than 25,000 miles of navigable Great Lakes, rivers, and waterways that make up America’s Marine Highway System are --and will remain-- a key economic asset. Our nation’s marine highway routes and the tugs and barges that ply those marine highways help alleviate landside congestion; accommodate future freight growth; and provide reliable, competitive alternatives for freight shippers.
However, smooth sailing is not always guaranteed. For example, winter weather can cause the waters off the coasts of New England states --part of M-95, a crucial marine highway running all the way from Maine to Florida-- to be too rough for tugs to safely push or pull cargo-loaded barges. That’s why DOT's Maritime Administration (MARAD) has supported the Maine Port Authority’s development of a next-level cargo vessel designed specifically to handle that unique marine environment...
America's cities face a number of transportation challenges, not the least of which is anticipated population growth over the next two decades and endangered federal investment in the transportation necessary to move those new residents and the goods they will need. For the last three days, however, a group of more than 300 innovative leaders gathered in Los Angeles to help chart a course toward meeting those challenges.
Now in its second year, CityLab --sponsored by The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies-- brings together mayors, urban experts, city planners, writers, technologists, economists, and designers from around the world in a constructive dialogue about creating scalable solutions for city leaders to share with their communities...