This week, millions of Americans will travel to places near and far to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday offers us a particular opportunity to express our gratitude, and as we gather to share the blessings of friends and family, and the bounty of our country, I hope we also take a moment to honor the service of our military and the sacrifices of their families.
One of the things for which I am most thankful is the outstanding team here at DOT. Whether by road, rail, ship, or plane, Americans depend on a dynamic transportation system to reach their holiday destinations and return home safely. The Department's men and women --here in Washington and in field offices and air traffic control towers across the nation-- work tirelessly to ensure that our transportation system gets you where you need to go.
This week, you might only have turkey, stuffing, and gravy on your mind. For us at DOT, that time will come, too, but right now we're thinking about one thing above all else: your safety.
Whether you’re going by plane, bus, car, train, or transit this busy travel week, you won’t be alone. AAA projects that more than 46 million people will travel 50 miles or more. Then there are the millions more who will drive or ride transit closer to home. So our planes, buses, and trains will be full, and our roads will be, too.
Another challenge is weather. According to the National Weather Service, one or two high impact systems are possible across the country during the holiday travel period. These could bring heavy rain, snow, and strong winds--all of which can affect transportation systems...
Last week, I told Fast Lane readers about the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) NextGen upgrades to the new North Texas Metroplex. Well, today, the good news just gets better as we announced that we are now running three state-of-the-art, satellite-based highways in the sky in the Washington, DC, Metroplex.
The National Capital Metroplex is the first in the nation to operate three NextGen approaches, each of which is dedicated to one of the region's three major airports--Reagan National (DCA), Dulles International (IAD), and Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International (BWI). As with last week's developments in North Texas, these new and improved routes mean increased safety, more on time arrivals, less fuel consumption, and reduced pollution-causing emissions.
Even better, the side-by-side trio is in operation ahead of the holiday travel period beginning this week. The whole point of NextGen is to get air travelers to their destinations safely and on time, and this is never more important than during the busy holiday season...
Many of you might have watched last night's 60 Minutes segment, "Falling Apart: America's Neglected Infrastructure." I was glad to see CBS give this critical situation its due in primetime.
As Fast Lane readers know, this is an issue I’ve been talking about almost every day since taking office. I’ve been to 41 states, sounding the alarm that our infrastructure is crumbling and that we need Congress to step up and help us rebuild it. I’ve also put forward a plan –the GROW AMERICA Act– that would give Congress a roadmap to do exactly that...and help us maintain our transportation system for generations to come.
Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to share our sense of urgency, which prompted my predecessor, Secretary Ray LaHood, to suggest on 60 Minutes last night that Congress needs to have the political courage to solve this problem.
Yesterday, I welcomed the chance to talk to AASHTO members about a very pressing issue we have in common: the condition of America's infrastructure and its ability to meet this nation's needs.
In Washington, the conventional wisdom is that Congress won't pass a long-term transportation bill. When funding starts to run out in May, they'll just do what they’ve done 28 times before in the last six years: They’ll pass another short-term patch that is probably also short of the funds our transportation system needs.
It’s not that Congress can't pass a long-term bill. It’s that they think they don’t have to. They think that as long as they approve level funding in a short-term patch, states and communities will be happy.
Yesterday, I told AASHTO that they need to tell Congress otherwise...
For five and half years, one of the best parts of my job has been meeting with mayors and people at the local level working hard to get things done. To leaders like the National League of Cities members I met with this week, transportation comes down to improving quality of life.
I used to be a mayor myself. I served in Riverdale, Illinois, the first outer-ring suburb on the southern edge of Chicago.
Riverdale is a railroad town. It has two major rail yards, five railroads that run through it, and two commuter rail stations. So I understand how community leaders are eager to have safe, reliable, efficient rail connections but also the necessary tools to address challenges like blocked crossings or train horn noise. Above all, they want to know that their communities are safe –and so do we...
Almost exactly a year ago, Transportation Secretary Foxx addressed the National League of Cities. He then turned to the Fast Lane to blog about what it means to city leaders that drivers in their cities spend an average of 42 hours a year stuck in traffic and how an increasing population is only going to make matters worse unless we invest in infrastructure solutions.
For today's installment of Throwback Thursday, we re-publish the Secretary's blog post and remind readers that, for more than a year, he and President Obama have proposed concrete solutions --through GROW AMERICA, our four-year, $302 bllion legislative proposal-- and advocated tirelessly for revitalized American transportation and the jobs and economic growth that reviatlization would bring.
With a newly elected Congress heading toward Washington, we also re-publish in this post the Secretary's advice that, "It is only when we work together that we can go from gridlock to open road, open harbors, and open skies."
Working together, investing in American transportation
Yesterday, I addressed the members of the National League of Cities, and it was a pleasure to be among leaders who understand the value of investing in America's transportation. Because League members know that, last year, drivers in this country's cities spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic. That's more than a full-time week of work.
Although DOT has been protecting people on roads and in our skies for decades, until recently the Federal Transit Administration had no safety authority when it came to the nation’s subways, buses, and other forms of public transit. In 2012, after years of FTA advocacy, Congress finally authorized an oversight role, and since then we've been working hard to establish that authority and develop a framework that will allow us to better protect the nation's transit riders and its employees.
It's a complicated process, but we in the FTA Office of Transit Safety and Oversight (TSO) take our commitment to developing an effective safety program for the transit industry extremely seriously. Because a federal safety role in transit is new, we're are also committed to keeping our stakeholders informed every step of the way.
That's why, last week, we sent a letter to transit agencies across America. The letter provides an overview of the safety-related initiatives we're working on and expect to announce in the months ahead—and how these may affect transit agencies --and the tens of millions of Americans who ride transit each and every day...
For more than three years, the FAA has been collaborating with stakeholders to update the complex airspace and air traffic control procedures in North Texas. The new air traffic management initiative will help improve on-time performance for airlines —and their passengers— flying in and out of the region.
These improvements are part of the FAA’s NextGen program, one of the largest public-works projects in our lifetime. NextGen transforms our radar-based air traffic control system to a more efficient satellite-based system. The accuracy of satellite navigation allows us to completely redesign the airspace around major metropolitan areas with multiple airports (what we call metroplexes), saving time and fuel while reducing carbon emissions...
In September, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made it very clear--through an address to the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh and in a blog post here in the Fast Lane-- that, when we talk about keeping the traveling public safe, "We must include pedestrians and bicyclists." Since then, DOT has backed up the Secretary's words with our "Safer People, Safer Streets" effort and with the launch of safety assessments in communities across the nation.
Recently, AARP asked Secretary Foxx a handful of questions about DOT's safety efforts and the difference they will make for older Americans. The Secretary's responses can be found at www.aarp.org/livable-communities/ and we hope you'll take the time to read through them.
None of DOT's goals can be achieved without partners, and we are pleased to have AARP's support on safety, our number one priority...