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...
I was not yet born when President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but like so many of my generation, I am a product of that important legislation. And this afternoon in New Orleans, I had the great privilege of celebrating the 50th anniversary of that historic moment with Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, whose ancestors played a key role in the progress of American civil rights.
Homer Plessy was arrested in New Orleans in 1892 for riding in the White-only car of an East Louisiana Railroad train. Many of us are familiar with Rosa Parks and segregated bus seating, and we're familiar with the abhorrent "separate but equal" principle established by the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v Ferguson, but not as many people know that Plessy also involved segregated transportation.
That unfortunate decision stood for decades until Brown v Board of Education in 1954 and, eventually, the Civil Rights Act we celebrate today.
In his first official blog post one year ago today, newly sworn-in Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote that, "Whether it is a bus, road, train, plane, or ship, our transportation system --at its best-- connects people to a better quality of life."
A year later, that initial statement remains the clearest description of what Secretary Foxx and this Department have worked so hard to do over the past 12 months--connect Americans to a better quality of life.
And we're happy to report that, with the Secretary's leadership, we've made significant headway toward that goal...