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This fall, The Washington Post is hosting a new series of live events, America Answers, to discuss the challenges facing our nation. The first of these was held yesterday, and it was squarely in the DOT wheelhouse: "Fix My Commute."

With academics, private sector innovators, and mayors from Atlanta to Los Angeles, yesterday's focus was all about cities, states, and the federal government working toward solutions for curbing congestion, cutting the cost of commuting, improving traffic safety, and getting infrastructure projects done.

Our own Secretary Foxx is one "Fix My Commute" speaker who has been advocating persistently for a legislative solution--GROW AMERICA-- that will unleash innovation in communities across the country...

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at DOT

Continue Reading Vice President Biden: How ››
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In each of our nation's ports, we have a gateway to global economic opportunity. We have access to the world's oceans, and we have workers ready to move freight efficiently from ship to trucks (or the trains) to the shelves.

But as the world's ships grow larger – and as our economy grows larger too – our ports will need to handle more cargo. By 2050, the United States will have to move nearly twice the amount of freight we currently transport.

That’s why I was at the Port of Newark yesterday. On the coasts of Jersey – so close to the trade hub of New York City that you can see the Empire State building through the marshes – work is underway to keep the region a commercial and shipping powerhouse. Just last month, DOT awarded a $15-million TIGER grant to the port. The money will go towards improvements that will help the port handle more cargo and trucks move in and our faster.

This is good news. But my message to Newark, however, was: This isn’t enough.

Continue Reading Port of Newark, Gateway to ››
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As Secretary Foxx wrote here earlier this week, "The goods we transport are the lifeblood of our economy." And just as that's true, the flip side is also true: Our economy can only move as fast as we can move the goods that fuel it.

That's why it's so important that America continues to invest in the infrastructure that keeps our economy moving.

But some projects make a bigger difference than others. And Congress has asked DOT to develop a comprehensive list --based on input from our stakeholders-- of projects that can make the most significant difference regionally and nationally, and of recommendations for how to finance them...

Photo of bridge construction

Continue Reading You can help DOT identify ››
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The goods we transport are the lifeblood of our economy. So as our nation moves freight into and out of the country, we depend on the efficiency of our ports and port facilities to keep that freight –and our economy— moving.

One of the key pieces in the freight puzzle is the challenge of the first and last miles, the transfer of goods between the container ships that tie up in our ports and the network of fast-moving rail and highway arteries that web our nation.

Yesterday at the Port of Seattle, I saw firsthand how intermodal freight transfer is an essential function in our transportation network and how it can clog the flow of goods. I also saw a port making strategic investments to speed up that transfer and maintain its competitiveness in the decades ahead...

Photo of Port of Seattle's container port, Terminal 46 (T46)

Continue Reading Port of Seattle preparing ››
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Apparently, the first Friday in October is Manufacturing Day. I say "apparently" because here at DOT, we're thinking about America's manufacturers a little more often than that.

When we invest American dollars in transportation projects, those projects are made of manufactured items and vehicles. Track, ties, and locomotives for rail. Catenary and cars for streetcars. Buses and benches and shelters --and more rail stuff-- for public transit.

Then, there's the fact that these items and vehicles are built with component materials that are also manufactured --from innovative wheelsets to hybrid engines all the way down to the nuts and bolts that literally hold our transportation system together...

Infographic on manufacturing and the economy

Continue Reading It's obvious, but ››
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For years now, states, cities, and communities across the country have watched Portland, Oregon, emerge as a leader in urban transportation. From streetcars to light rail to bike lanes, Portland has been touted by more than one Secretary of Transportation for its forward thinking.

But today, other communities are joining the ranks of transportation innovators. Places like Omaha and Richmond are building bus rapid transit. Indianapolis is building bicycle and pedestrian paths, and like Portland, they’re seeing safety improve and businesses grow in the process.

Still I did see some evidence in Portland earlier this week that the Rose City is not giving up its innovation title without a fight...

Photo of Secretary Foxx touring the Tilamuk Crossing

Continue Reading Portland not alone on ››
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The more than 25,000 miles of navigable Great Lakes, rivers, and waterways that make up America’s Marine Highway System are --and will remain-- a key economic asset.  Our nation’s marine highway routes and the tugs and barges that ply those marine highways help alleviate landside congestion; accommodate future freight growth; and provide reliable, competitive alternatives for freight shippers.

However, smooth sailing is not always guaranteed. For example, winter weather can cause the waters off the coasts of New England states --part of M-95, a crucial marine highway running all the way from Maine to Florida-- to be too rough for tugs to safely push or pull cargo-loaded barges. That’s why DOT's Maritime Administration (MARAD) has supported the Maine Port Authority’s development of a next-level cargo vessel designed specifically to handle that unique marine environment...

Rendering of the new A.T.B. design from Maine Port Authority

Continue Reading Marine Highway Momentum ››
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If you read my Fast Lane post from yesterday, then you know I was in Kansas City on Monday. And in addition to seeing the Prospect Avenue corridor on that trip, I also was able to visit the workers who are replacing the city's Manchester Bridge.

This bridge serves 90,000 vehicles a day; it feeds tons of freight into the Blue Valley Industrial District. But the current structure has deteriorated to the point where it has required repair after repair in recent years just to keep stay open.

Now, thanks to recent investment, the bridge will soon be able to move people and goods safely and reliably for generations to come. So, yes, we’re proud of that, but –to be honest– we’re also concerned...

Photo of Secretary Foxx with KC construction workers

Continue Reading Also in Kansas City, ››
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Carrying 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade, our maritime transportation system, which includes America’s ports, is a crucial component of our nation’s economy. And with our growing population --and the associated need to increase the amount of freight our transportation network carries-- maritime’s value will only grow in the future.

This point is not lost on the Obama Administration, and it’s the reason why Vice President Joe Biden joined U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Virginia Port Authority CEO/Executive Director John Reinhart, and me at the Port of Virginia in Norfolk on Wednesday. We were there to highlight the Port’s role as an economic engine for the region and its continued development of facilities and services in anticipation of the need to move greater freight volumes...

Photo of VP Biden in Norfolk

Continue Reading Vice President Biden ››
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President Obama has taken unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment.  The maritime industry understands and embraces this thinking not only because it makes sense, but also as it will be essential to future viability of marine transportation.   The industry continues to take a leading role in environmental responsibility and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is helping them chart the course.

With two recently released reports examining storage and bunkering options for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and providing vital data on natural gas emissions, MARAD’s Office of Environment and Safety is providing information the industry needs to transition to cleaner burning fuels. And by identifying potential challenges and recommending best practices and new standards, MARAD is working to streamline the development of a transportation network that supports the integration of natural gas as a marine fuel.

Yesterday, we took another step forward with approval of a $324.6 million Title XI loan guarantee to TOTE Shipholdings, Inc., a 2014 White House Transportation Champion of Change, to finance construction of two container ships that will use LNG as propulsion fuel...

Continue Reading With DOT support, maritime ››
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