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With the economy starting to make a recovery, our aging transportation infrastructure cannot keep up with the rising demand to move goods and people.  Nationwide, cities and transportation stakeholders have long lists of infrastructure improvement projects necessary to meet the demand, but there just is not enough funding to make them a reality. And worse, the Highway Trust Fund is on the brink of insolvency.

It is my hope that Congress will soon reauthorize Federal transportation policy and provide a robust, long-term stream of funding to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund and support our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs.

I was very pleased that Secretary Foxx recently took the time to visit the City of Industry and get a first-hand look at two of our most important infrastructure projects, the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority’s (ACE) Nogales Street Grade Separation Project (Nogales) and the California SR-57/SR-60 Confluence Project (Confluence Project). These two projects are classic examples of how strategic local infrastructure investments can trigger public benefits such as increased mobility, improved safety, economic growth, and environmental protection.

Benefits that can extend beyond city limits and ripple across the country...

Before and after photos of the Confluence

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Whether it’s an event like the Super Bowl, when thousands of business jets converge on a location or at one of the many air shows and national fly-ins that take place every year, when there's a large gathering of aircraft in the same place at the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes together to provide expert choreography in the skies and safety on the ground.

And earlier this month, FAA facilities along the Eastern Seaboard stepped up to support the Special Olympics Airlift by safely guiding the aircraft for 3,500 athletes to and from this year's games...

Photo of athletes and airlift volunteers

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Compared to cities across the country, Tampa is lucky. While we have significant needs, we haven’t had to close any bridges, and our interstate is generally an efficient way to move around our city. Our infrastructure is stable and reliable.

The problem is that we don’t have enough of it. Over the years, Tampa, like most urban areas, has grown. More and more people are moving into cities and starting new businesses. We’re growing and creating jobs, but to be blunt, we don’t have the transportation options to support our redevelopment. 

Photo of Mayor Buckhorn with Secretary Foxx

A few weeks ago, Secretary Foxx visited Tampa to take a look at our I-275 widening project. For those not familiar with our city, I-275 runs right through the heart of Tampa, connecting the University of South Florida with downtown and the Westshore business district to the beaches of Pinellas County. This project has been in the works since 1989.

You read that right. 1989...

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It should be clear to Fast Lane readers by now that we at DOT are not the only ones trying to alert Americans to the fact that our Highway Trust Fund is on a collision course with insolvency.

On ARTBA's Transportation Makes America Work website, you'll learn that our highways and railroads carry 14.6 trillion tons of freight each year, freight worth $19 trillion. It's an eye-opening way of showing that transportation means business, and that business is in jeopardy...

Infographic illustrating the volume and value of freight moved by America's transportation system

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Last week, Secretary Foxx sent a letter to heads of State DOTs across the country advising that, with the Highway Trust Fund heading toward insolvency as early as August, we will soon be forced to implement cash management procedures —including delayed reimbursement for hundreds of road projects that employ thousands of workers.

To show readers how this funding crisis will touch their everyday lives, we’re turning over the Fast Lane to Mayors and Governors across the country this week, who are working on the frontlines to manage the possible consequences of a shortfall.  Each morning this week, we're featuring guest-authored posts illustrating how all Americans will be affected if the Highway Trust Fund is allowed to dip below zero.

We hope you find them as compelling as we do.


Car-mageddon indeed!

The building, rebuilding, and repair of highways and bridges throughout the United States is heading toward a dramatic slowdown –perhaps even a complete halt– this summer. The Federal Highway Trust Fund, source of federal transportation funding for all the states, will run out of money in late August, and Congress has not figured out a way to save it.

To understand what this means --and why it is bad news for every American-- one needs to understand how we as a nation build and maintain the streets, roads, and bridges we depend on every day. Ours is a national system that carries the life blood we know as daily commerce, the moving of people and goods to homes, schools, work sites, and travel destinations.

Nowhere is it more important than in my home state, Kentucky, where motor-vehicle manufacturing, freight movement, agricultural exports, and tourism are pillars of our economy.

Auto manufacturing in Kentucky

Simply put, this immensely valuable system would not be possible without the support of the Federal Highway Administration and funding through the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

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The very busy Interstate 95 corridor serves as a major travel route for millions of Americans each year.  Soon, families will be traveling through this area for well-deserved vacations, and we want them to arrive at their destinations and back home again safely.

Along one segment of this heavily traveled corridor, four states have come together to fix a deadly safety problem. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, see 13 percent of the nation’s fatal truck and bus related crashes. These states believe --and I agree-- that we must do better.

That's why, earlier this week, I traveled to Port Wentworth, Georgia, to kick-off a tremendous safety partnership called Operation Safe DRIVE occurring this week along a 900-mile stretch of Interstate 95...

Photo of F.M.C.S.A. Administrator Ferro with inspectors

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As readers might recall, I'm sort of the product of a transportation business. My great-grandfather, Pete Kelly, was a trucker who put 13 kids through college--including my grandmother. So, I am where I am today because, for Pete Kelly, that truck was a key rung on the ladder of opportunity.

Now, Pete Kelly may have lived more than half a century ago, but the same route that he took toward the American Dream is still wide open to our nation's entrepreneurs. Transportation can still be a way up, into the middle class and beyond.

Especially when you’re helping build that transportation. At the Department of Transportation, we work to make sure everyone has access to this kind of opportunity.

Photo of road work

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Yesterday, I was in Texas with Secretary Foxx to celebrate big changes in the way we handle air traffic in and out of the four Houston-area airports.

These improvements are part of the FAA’s NextGen program, one of the largest --although not so visible-- 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 what we call "metroplexes," multi-airport metropolitan areas like Houston. These redesigns promise significant savings of time and fuel...

Photo of FAA Administrator Michael Huerta speaking at Houston Metroplex celebration

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Today, we commemorate motorcoach travel’s prominent place in our nation’s transportation network for the past century.

One hundred years ago, Carl Eric Wickman, a Swedish immigrant and drill operator laid-off from Minnesota's iron ore mines, began a modest bus service to take miners from Hibbing to nearby Alice, a town known for its saloons. He charged 15 cents a ride in a Hupmobile. A year later, Wickman joined forces with a similar service running between Hibbing and Duluth. In its first year, the Mesaba Transportation Company earned an $8,000 profit, and American intercity bus travel was born.

The American passenger carrier industry has grown considerably since then. Today, motorcoach travel provides mobility and connectivity for millions of Americans and helps us meet our enormous energy and environmental challenges. The drivers operating these vehicles help ensure that motorcoach travel is a safe way for Americans to get where they need to go...

Photo of F.M.C.S.A. Administrator Anne Ferrro in front of 1914 Hupmobile

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Today, as we've been doing each month since January, the Department of Transportation updated our Highway Trust Fund tickers. The tickers are charts showing how much money we have left to spend on roads, bridges, and transit --and how quickly it is running out.

If you've been reading the Fast Lane this spring, you know that our budget analysts have projected a shortfall in the Highway Account before we reach the end of this fiscal year. So far, all of their monthly predictions have been on target, and this month was no different. Unfortunately, that accuracy is not good news, because it means we're still expecting a shortfall as early as August.

In a challenging legislative environment, that doesn't give us a lot of time...

Chart depicting end-of-month balances for the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund

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