Earlier today, I had the opportunity to welcome students returning to Somerville High School in Massachusetts after their winter break. Actually, I was there to announce a Federal Transit Administration agreement to help fund the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line Extension from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. But it was entirely fitting to make the announcement at a local high school.
I’m the grandson of teachers who, like so many teachers, went above and beyond their job descriptions because they understood that they were paving the way for a new generation to go further. That's what education is about. And it's also what transportation is about...
Earlier this week, I was in Dearborn, Michigan, to celebrate completion of the John D. Dingell Transit Center. This multimodal transit center, funded by a Recovery Act grant of $28.2 million, is a great example of how a collaborative approach to station development can meet the needs of everyone involved. The new station in Dearborn is a win for the disability community, freight shippers, and passenger rail.
One of the center’s most significant achievements is its accessibility. The platforms at the new station have been designed to provide level boarding to all rail passengers directly from the platform to the new fleet of passenger rail cars that will operate throughout the Midwest network. By coordinating respectfully with each other, project partners were able to engineer a solution that ensured the rights of the disability community and ensured the flow of freight traffic was not impinged...
In Maine last week, within a day of each other, two events occurred that add up to one compelling argument for investing in America's transportation system.
One was resoundingly positive --the opening of the new Maine Kennebec Bridge-- and I was happy to observe that celebration firsthand on Friday. The other event --Thursday's collapse of a section of the Eastport Pier-- caused at least one injury and damage to several vessels and a truck.
The pier's collapse and the ongoing demand for the limited funding available to rebuild roads and bridges in Maine and across America are a clear demonstration of how we've starved our nation's transportation infrastructure for far too long...
New and old Kennebec River crossings; photo courtesy Kennebec Journal
As readers of the Fast Lane know, transportation is about a lot more than just how we get from one point to another. Transportation is, what President Obama likes to call, a ladder of opportunity. It helps people reach better jobs and better schools, which means they can reach for –and seize– a better life.
That's especially true on Tribal Lands.
DOT is committed to working with tribal communities to build the roads, bridges, and transit systems they need. And we've got a number of programs that are doing just that...
In August, after continued pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seat manufacturer Graco recalled over 6 million car seats.
The defect involves buckles of child and infant car seats sticking or becoming stuck in the latched position, creating an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency. But while the recall is good news for child safety, it's not as good as you might think; NHTSA estimates that only about 40 percent of recalled car seats are ever actually repaired. That's not nearly the rate of repairs for recalled light vehicles (75 percent), and it presents a significant safety challenge.
But NHTSA's work doesn't end when a recall is announced. Yesterday, the safety agency announced an investigation into the timeliness of Graco's reporting on the safety defect that led to the August recall...
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.
In Jacksonville, Florida –one of our cities hardest hit by the recession– the jobs are beginning to come back, and so are the people to fill them. From 2012 to 2013, the metro area’s population grew at a rate that was nearly twice the national average.
Now, while this is good news, it also presents a challenge: How do you move an increasingly larger population around a city with a limited number of streets?
Today in Jacksonville, drivers are experiencing more and more traffic congestion. The more than 40,000 people who ride the region's buses are experiencing their share of delays, too. And for some transit-dependent folks, good connections to the jobs downtown just aren’t available.
Even in the best of times, solving a challenge like this is difficult. But as things stand now in the world of transportation funding, it's even harder...