I do not know who the Secretary of Transportation will be in the year 2045. But 30 years from now, if that person were to go to Michigan and speak at the Detroit Economic Club –as I did yesterday– he or she might be able to tell the audience:
“Detroit is the new Silicon Valley. You all manufacture a great invention of the 21st century: a car that drives itself. This vehicle has prevented nine out of every ten potential car accidents. No one dies because of drunk driving anymore. And no one has to circle the parking lot again looking for a space. The thing even parks itself, too.”
Of course, our Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices study tells us that autonomous vehicles are just one of the many technologies with the potential to revolutionize our transportation system; we have the chance to build a country where mobility is as cheap and plentiful as fast internet and running water.
And my message to Detroit yesterday was that we can make this vision a reality only if we start thinking about our challenges today...
Today, Congress has one new message in their inbox – and it is marked urgent: A new and improved GROW AMERICA act awaits their review.
America is in the midst of a growth spurt, and the problem is: our roads, rails, and transit systems do not automatically grow along with our country.
It is not news to Fast Lane readers that – come May 31st – federal funding for transportation will expire, right at the start of construction season.
This crisis, our readers know, is not new, either. It’s six years – and 32-short term funding measures – in the making.
On top of that, for more than a decade now, federal transportation funding has been stuck at a level below what is needed to merely keep the transportation infrastructure we have in good shape.
Well, on Monday, I met with the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) Cities of Opportunity Task Force: two dozen mayors who, like us, want to see real change happen in transportation.
From left: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at a Cities of Opportunity Task Force meeting in Boston. Courtesy of U.S. Conference of Mayors/@usmayors.
Led by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the task force was asked by USCM President Kevin Johnson to find ways to reduce income inequality in America’s cities and metros. To do this, Johnson has said, requires building a “community and economy that works for everyone.” And to do that, we know, requires cities to invest in transportation systems that leave no one behind.
Yesterday, I moderated a panel discussion of business leaders and policy wonks, including my friend, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado.
The venue? The Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA Conference.
The topic of discussion? How to bring more private sector dollars to America’s streets – and also bridges, waterways, airports, subways, and rails.
Fastlane readers know that our transportation system is screaming for more investment. The United States is on track to underinvest in transportation by about one trillion dollars by the end of the decade, and this is happening at a time when demand for transportation is increasing. America will be home to 70 million more people by 2045, and we will have to move 45 percent more freight.
Yesterday, we dared to write a blog post celebrating data. Today, we are unapologetically following that with a post celebrating wireless technology. The transportation connection? With DOT support, vehicle-to-vehicle communication is coming to the automobile market, and it will make our lives safer and help us go Beyond Traffic.
As we wrote here last month about this game-changing technology, "when a car can see what a driver can't, yours could warn you of a potential crash or icy roads ahead; advise you of a traffic jam ahead and automatically recalculate your travel route; or even help you locate an available parking space."
And it appears that the editors of MIT's Technology Review were listening. Because when the Review released its list of "10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2015" in late February, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication was right there. Listed among the key contributors were our very own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the University of Michigan, where we launched our first large-scale V2V pilot program. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Office of Research Technology (OSTR) here at DOT have also been instrumental...
It is hard to overstate America’s reliance on a safe and efficient freight network. This network is the circulation system that fuels our economy health and helps secure our Nation, and the Obama Administration has consistently emphasized the importance of improving our infrastructure.
That is exactly what brought me to Quincy, IL, earlier this month. With $12 billion in goods transported to global markets each year through Quincy by road, rail, or river, this community is a domestic and international economic hub.
Because our population will grow by 70 million during the next 30 years --and to support that population our freight volume will have to increase by 45 percent-- community leaders in Quincy are working with DOT's Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) to develop a port that can support the region’s expected freight growth...
Last Friday afternoon, our GROW AMERICA Express bus tour pulled into Washington, DC's, Union Station after a 1,100-mile journey through five states. We had gone on the road four days earlier for one reason: to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.
In Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and DC, I saw great examples of the kind of investment in transportation infrastructure that can help communities grow, help businesses compete, and help people get more safely and reliably to jobs and other opportunities.
We also visited places where strong projects that would achieve those same goals were stuck perpetually on the launch pad.
Many thanks to everyone who turned out to welcome us back to DC!
This morning, the GROW AMERICA Express pulled into Virginia’s Richmond International Airport, where we made two big safety announcements. These steps forward on safety highlight the ways that government, consumer advocates, and businesses can work together.
At the airport, I was joined by Mark Rosekind, the Administrator of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by safety advocate Rosemary Shahan, and by representatives of the rental car industry to talk about how we can keep vehicles with safety defects off our highways.
As Fast Lane readers know, industry and safety advocates don't always agree, but these folks have come together on a common-sense proposition: rental car agencies should not be able to rent a vehicle that is under a safety recall until any safety defects have been repaired...
This afternoon I visited Durham, North Carolina, where I got an up-close view of the powerful effect that transportation investment can have on people’s lives.
While planning progresses on the rail line, the downtown Durham area is already undergoing a renaissance. New businesses are sprouting up; existing businesses are moving to the area; and new restaurants are opening. This is all well in advance of the light rail line’s opening, projected to be in 2026.
Getting to opening day, however, will take continued financial support. Durham and Chapel Hill as well as countless other communities across the country need to be able to commit to multi-year transportation projects, but they need federal funding in addition to local funding commitments to do that...
When you're making the case for stable investment in American passenger rail, it helps to have with you the nation's greatest champion for passenger rail --Vice President Joe Biden.
The Vice President and I have been traveling up the East Coast this week as part of the GROW AMERICA Express to focus America’s attention on our infrastructure, and to remind the American people that we are at a crucial crossroads. And as we consider our options for moving forward, Vice President Biden knows well that passenger rail is an important piece of the transportation puzzle...