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According to Forbes Magazine, Austin is the fastest growing city in America this year. But with all that growth can come some growing pains. And one example of those pains can be seen on US 290, east of downtown Austin, where traffic has increased more than 78 percent since 1990.

And that has left folks stuck in congestion--every day. Luckily, things are looking up for local residents with the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.

The benefits of this project can’t be overstated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions.  And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.

Rendering of Manor Expressway

I visited Austin on Saturday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.

The benefits of this project can’t be understated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions.  And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.

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At this Department, our top priority is ensuring the safety of the traveling public. It always has been.  

Achieving that goal isn’t easy. It takes commitment from everyone with a stake in our transportation system. And we know no one is perfect. But what we cannot tolerate –what we will never accept– is a person or a company that knows danger exists, and says nothing.

Because silence can kill.

Photo of Secretary Foxx and N.H.T.S.A. Acting Administrator Friedman announcing G.M. penalties

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This morning, I was not about to let a little weather keep me from greeting the bicyclists who braved the rain on my first Bike To Work Day since becoming Transportation Secretary!

So I headed to Freedom Plaza, and was amazed to see that bike commuters were really coming out for this event despite the downpour. That's a tribute to their love of commuting by bicycle and also to the growing significance of Bike To Work Day as an annual celebration of bicycling as transportation.

Photo of Secretary Foxx at Bike To Work Day event
Photos courtesy Matt Kroneberger, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

And it is something worth celebrating. In fact, over the last decade, commuting by bicycle is up more than 60 percent...

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The deadline for submitting Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2014 grant applications recently passed, and--once again--the applications totaled far more than Congress set aside for these competitive awards. And, I'm not talking about a small difference.

DOT received $9.5 billion in applications for the $600 million available in our TIGER program--that's more than 15 times the amount we can award. The 797 eligible applications we received from 49 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia is also a big jump from the 585 submitted during last year's TIGER process.

These applicants confirm what I saw as I traveled through eight states and 13 cities as part of my Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour last month: America is hungry for infrastructure investment. And that's exactly why we sent our GROW AMERICA legislative proposal to Congress two weeks ago.

Photo of rail work near St. Paul's Union Depot

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Earlier this week, the White House recognized its 2014 Champions of Change in transportation. We present these awards annually, but this year's nominees are doing more than just changing transportation. They're changing lives.

Because this year we’re focusing on “ladders of opportunity.”

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This afternoon, I had the great privilege of joining President Obama at theTappan Zee bridge, where work is underway to replace this nearly 60-year-old bridge with a new one, appropriately called the New NY Bridge. There, the President demonstrated his ongoing commitment to making 2014 a year of action by releasing a comprehensive plan to further accelerate project delivery by expanding his permitting reform efforts.

Fast Lane readers might recall that federal agencies completed the permitting and review for the New NY Bridge--a process that can take as long as 5 years--in about 1.5 years. So, it's a terrific example of how we can meet the Administration's goal of cutting timelines for major projects in half--and in this case even more than that.

Photo of President Obama at Tappan Zee Bridges
Photo courtesy Peter Carr, The Journal News

Today, more commuters and commercial vehicles use this bridge than ever before – more than 138,000 vehicles a day--that's a 30 percent jump in traffic from 1990.  We know that for them, every day counts until they get a new bridge....

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Every year, we celebrate National Small Business Week to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

Yesterday, Secretary Foxx visited Washington, DC's Symmetra Design, a team of planners, engineers, and consultants who have made their mark on transportation with innovative projects like the Bowie, MD, MARC Station Sector Plan, and the Rhode Island Avenue Great Streets Corridor Study.

Symmetra is also a woman-owned small business and participates in the Mentor/Protégé Program operated by our Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)...

Photo of Secretary Foxx and O.S.D.B.U. Director Brandon Neal meeting with Symmetra
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It's quite a week for the transportation world. In addition to National Transportation Week and Infrastructure Week, last Saturday, at stations across the country, passenger rail fans across the country celebrated the 7th annual National Train Day, an opportunity to appreciate a mode of transportation that makes a real difference to many towns, communities, and people from coast to coast.

National Train Day banner image

Passenger train ridership has increased more than 50% since 2000. In fact, Amtrak has now set annual ridership records in 10 out of the last 11 years. As Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo told the National Train Day crowd at Portland Oregon's Union Station, "Travelers today have choices –and they're choosing trains in record numbers."

Not that long ago, in regional markets like Portland-Seattle and New York-Washington, DC, inter-city travelers chose air over rail. But today those numbers are reversed. In 2012, 69 percent of travelers between Portland and Seattle chose rail. And between New York and Washington, Amtrak now carries three times as many passengers as all the airlines put together...

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America’s growing population will require our nation’s freight network to haul 4 billion more tons of international freight annually by 2050, roughly the weight of 40,000 Washington Monuments. Since over 90 percent of imported cargo by volume already moves through our nation's ports today, a good portion of that 4 billion tons will be transported on American waterways and through our ports and intermodal hubs. So our infrastructure must be ready.

That’s why I was especially proud to help break ground yesterday on an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) at the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) in Florida. By increasing the efficiency and speed of container transfer between vessels and trains, the new ICTF will help JAXPORT support America’s future freight requirements and create long-term economic opportunities for the Jacksonville region in the form of good paying jobs.

Photo of golden spike ceremony at JAXPORT; photo courtesy JAXPORT

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Cross-posted from the White House Blog

The United States was once known as a leader in infrastructure, and we're slipping: 

When the American Society of Civil Engineers graded our infrastructure systems last fall, they gave our road and transit systems a D, our bridges a C+, and our levees a D-.

But here's the real problem: The funding we have in place to fix them is set to run out by fall. That puts at risk more than 112,000 active projects that are currently paving our roads and building our bridges, as well as approximately 5,600 projects that are actively improving our transit systems — not to mention the nearly 700,000 jobs that these collective projects support...

Watch Transportation Secretary Foxx discussing DOT's infrastructure proposal at the White House Press Briefing on May 12, 2014

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