Earlier this week, while in Albuquerque taking part in the Western Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (WASHTO) 2014 meeting, I had a great opportunity to see firsthand what New Mexico and the 17 other WASHTO member states are doing to get projects done sooner. Their work can be summed up in two words – innovation and investment. Those words are also the cornerstone of FHWA’s “Every Day Counts” (EDC) program to promote state-based project delivery efforts.
The WASHTO conference theme, “Crossroads to the Future,” was right on target, in part because New Mexico and its western counterparts are stepping forward to meet the challenges they face with resolve and ingenuity.
Unfortunately, the kind of progress achieved in New Mexico and throughout the WASHTO region is at risk. Much depends on the willingness of Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that gives our states the funding and policy certainty they need to continue planning other projects like these...
President Obama has been very clear that we need to do more to improve our infrastructure in order to create jobs, provide certainty to states and communities, help American businesses, and grow our economy. With the GROW AMERICA Act we sent to Congress in May, we've presented a concrete, long-term proposal that would do just that and pay for it by closing unfair tax loopholes and making common-sense, pro-business tax reforms.
While we wait for Congress to take action, the President will continue to use all the tools at the Administration's disposal to protect our nation's long-term economic security where we can. And there is no question that America's transportation infrastructure is one area where we have both the need and the opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact.
That's why today, under a failed bridge on I-495 in Delaware, the President announced the Build America Investment Initiative to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth.
One part of that initiative that we're particularly proud of at DOT is the Build America Transportation Investment Center, our new one-stop shop for state and local governments, public and private developers, and investors seeking financing strategies for transportation infrastructure projects...
Most of the time, when people think about transportation, they think of our nation’s roads and bridges, or maybe our airports, railroad tracks or transit lines. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that makes all of those forms of transportation, along with many others, more safe and efficient. Yesterday, I had a chance to see some of that work firsthand, when I joined President Obama in visiting DOT’s Turner Fairbank Research Center. During our visit, we were able to see some of the innovative technologies DOT engineers are working on that will make important improvements in how Americans drive in the future.
For example, the President got to do a little driving in a simulator that features vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. This technology will eventually help stop crashes before they happen and make it easier for us to avoid traffic jams.
He and I agree that's the kind of transportation progress we like to see...
President Barack Obama prepares to drive a vehicle simulator during a tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
Recently I posted on this blog about my visit to a Siemens plant in Louisville, Kentucky, where investments in rail have created new jobs.
Well, to quote Yogi Berra, my visit on July 8 to Columbus Castings in Ohio was like “déjà vu all over again.” Once again, I saw proof that improvements in our rail system create new orders for manufacturers and suppliers, and new jobs for American workers.
During my tour, I saw skilled employees making components for one order that is modernizing Amtrak’s long-distance services. Columbus Castings added more than 30 new jobs for just this one order.
Summer is in full swing, and families across the nation have been hitting the road for vacations. Whether driving cross-country, or taking shorter weekend jaunts, American families will be logging the miles this July and August as they do every year.
But America’s families won’t be the only ones hitting the road this busy travel season; our nation's hardworking commercial truck drivers will be logging the miles, too! Only, they're doing it to deliver the goods that fuel our economy, stock the shelves at our local stores, and fill our pantries. The trucking industry impacts our daily lives in more ways than we can imagine.
Truck drivers are operating much larger, heavier vehicles than many of our own and have a very different degree of responsiveness...
Fifty years ago today, in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Urban Mass Transportation Act. It was our country’s first attempt to address the challenges of public transportation as a nation, and it focused on preserving transit as a transportation option.
Reflecting on the impact of the Urban Mass Transportation Act, President Johnson said, “The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 was the first national recognition of the daily trials faced by the 70 percent of our population who live in the cities of this country. Our overburdened and underfinanced mass transportation systems were nearing paralysis. In 20 years, no other country in the world allowed its passenger rail service in urban areas to deteriorate as badly as we did –and we are the richest, most powerful, and most technically advanced nation on earth!”
The Federal role in public transit was instigated by the slow-motion disaster of crumbling transportation systems half a century ago. Today, however, President Johnson's dismay retains its relevance...
On July 2, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, opened its doors to the Class of 2018, 252 young men and women who started their transportation careers last Wednesday as plebe candidates. INDOC Day, as it is known among the Kings Point community, kicks-off a 20-day indoctrination period of intense physical, academic, and regimental training to begin transforming these recent high school graduates into future leaders and licensed maritime officers.
Each year, since 2009, USMMA has seen a rise in minority and women candidates. “The new plebe candidates make up one of the most diverse classes at USMMA,” said Superintendent RADM James A. Helis. “Minority enrollment for the Class of 2018 is now at 27.7% and the percentage of women is at 18.6 %. We are very pleased that the incoming class is more representative of the American demographic than ever before.”
These future mariners representing 46 states and 4 foreign countries also boasted the highest SAT scores of any entering class...
At a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx talked about agency funding, safety, and challenges from his first year as Secretary. Topics included the solvency of the highway trust fund, the consumer use of drones, and recent General Motors vehicle recalls.
Click the image below to watch a rebroadcast of the July 1, 2014, event on C-Span
Last week, I swung through three states in two days, hopping from Kentucky to Rhode Island and then down the I-95 corridor to Connecticut.
Drivers in these states, like drivers in so many others, know their roads and bridges are in need of investment. In Kentucky, almost a third of the roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. And in Connecticut and Rhode Island, close to three-quarters of the bridges are structurally obsolete. Twenty-mile backups on I-95 are all too common in those states.
I wish I could say I was visiting those states to off help, asking their governors, “What more can the federal government do? Where can we invest more in your bridges? How about your roads? Your transit systems?”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask those questions.
Due to inaction in Congress, I was forced to deliver an entirely different message: “Soon, you won’t be receiving more transportation funding –you’ll be receiving less.”
Americans love to celebrate the Fourth of July with family, friends, food, and --yes-- fireworks. But all too often, our festivities turn tragic on our nation's roads. The fact is, this iconic American holiday is also one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk-driving crashes.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the July 4th holiday period over the last five years (from 2008 to 2012), 765 people lost their lives in crashes involving drunk drivers. During the holiday period, these deaths consistently account for a full 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. And drunk drivers aren't just a threat to themselves; more than a third of the people killed when alcohol-impaired drivers crash are not the impaired drivers.
But drunk driving isn't something we have to live with; it's entirely preventable. So let's celebrate our independence this year by breaking free of this tragic consistency and driving sober...