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Earlier this week, I was in the Bay Area for a download on the latest in transportation innovation, including a ride in Google's self-driving car. And yesterday, I was back in Washington, DC, at the 18th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference with leaders from government, science, and business.

But from autonomous vehicles to commercial space travel, my message was the same: In our 30-year draft framework –Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices– we’re incredibly bullish about new technology and new business models, and their ability to revolutionize how we travel and how we move freight.

And --yes-- that includes the big thinkers and innovators from a community that once sounded like science fiction: commercial space transportation...

Graphic showing that FAA has licensed 233 launches
For more information on Licensed Launches, visit www.faa.gov
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If you were tuned into the Talks At Google channel on YouTube or read Mashable yesterday, then you know that --as promised last month—Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has launched "Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices," DOT's 30-year outlook on the future of transportation:

"For too long, our national dialogue about transportation has been focused on recreating the past.  Instead, we need to focus on the trends that are shaping our future.  In Washington, in state capitals and in city halls, it is time to sound the alarm bell: the future is calling."

Our side of this framework is a frank assessment of the lay of the land in American transportation and some of the likely challenges we'll face in the future. It's well-sourced from government and industry data, and it's a useful starting point for a discussion of where we might find ourselves in 2045 and what we can do to shape those outcomes. As Secretary Foxx said, "There's a difference between having choices and making choices."

It is not, as the Secretary has said repeatedly, a blueprint for the future handed down from above. Instead, it's an invitation to a conversation, and that invitation is for you...

Screen capture from the Blue Paper

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Cover of F.Y. 2016 Budget HighlightsThe FY 2016 Budget that President Obama proposed today shows what we can do if we invest in America's future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America.

This proposal lays out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America's hard-working families get ahead in a time of relentless economic and technological change.

The President’s Budget provides a total of $94.7 billion in 2016 for the Department of Transportation to make the critical investments we need in infrastructure to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century. It also improves the way federal dollars are spent...

Continue Reading President Obama rolls out ››
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President Obama and I are both planning for our transportation future; your future. Today, the President will unveil a bold six-year budget proposal. The President's budget lays the foundation for a growing, changing nation. You'll like it; I strongly support it. Much more to come later today, so stay tuned to the Fast Lane.

This afternoon, I will be on the west coast. I’m heading to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, to start a conversation about the questions so critical to the future of our transportation system.

Questions like, "In 30 years, how will you travel?" And, "Will America be a country where driverless vehicles mean car crashes are a thing of the past? Or will our infrastructure crumble, and gridlock only get worse?"

Today, DOT is launching Beyond Traffic, a framework that’s been a year in the making and will lay the trends and choices facing American transportation over the next three decades...

Continue Reading Today, we go Beyond Traffic ››
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Earlier today, I went to Capitol Hill to speak with the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. Now, as Fast Lane readers know, we're in a new year, with a new Congress. But I went to the Senate to discuss an old issue: America's need for better transportation.

Specifically, as Senators and House members from both sides of the aisle have said, our country needs a multiyear transportation bill with funding growth and policy reforms focused on our nation’s future.

America is in a race. Not just against our global competitors, but against time and against the high standards of innovation and progress our nation has upheld for generations. You don't need to read the data from transportation experts to know that we're slipping behind in that race. You can look around --at our road congestion, at the tens of thousands of bridges that need to be replaced or upgraded, at our cities' legacy transit systems. And when you are behind, you must do more than just keep pace; you must run faster...

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The economic news from President Obama's State of the Union address last night is good: "Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999."

In fact, over the past five years, American businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs. That 58-month streak of job creation is the longest on record, and since 2010, we have put more people back to work than all of the advanced economies of the world combined. The economic growth reported for the 3rd quarter of 2014? The strongest in more than a decade. And our federal deficit? Cut by two-thirds.

As the President said, "The verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works."

Good news indeed, but no one at DOT is confusing that good news as a sign that we can afford to rest. Because we cannot; we can't rest on transportation, and we can't rest on opportunity. As President Obama pointed out, "No one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America..."

Chart showing job creation over past 58 months

Continue Reading Our path to the future ››
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Last July, President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, an Administration-wide effort aimed at boosting private investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  And on Friday, Vice President Biden announced new steps that federal agencies are taking to bring private sector capital and expertise to bear on improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband networks. 

You can read more about Friday’s announcement here.  These actions and announcements are the first steps that the Administration is taking as part of the Build America Investment Initiative’s two-year action plan.

These steps highlight important progress within DOT. When the President announced this initiative last July, he also called on this Department to launch the Build America Transportation Investment Center.  And over the past six months, DOT, the Department of Treasury, and more than a dozen other federal agencies have worked to stand up this crucial team, which serves as a one-stop shop for investors seeking innovative financing strategies for infrastructure projects. The Center focuses on facilitating access to USDOT credit programs and helping project sponsors improve project development and delivery. After all, the more projects can move toward completion, the better we can address the Nation’s growing infrastructure deficit...

Photo of highway bridge construction work

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The challenges facing transportation in America cannot be dealt with piecemeal.  They’re tightly connected, and they must be managed as a whole. 

For example, we know that populations are shifting and growing now and that 70 million more people will be living in the U.S. in the next 30 years. We know that new technologies like ride-sharing and Unmanned Aerial Systems (you know them as “drones”) are changing the way we travel and how we move freight.

But, we haven’t taken a good look at how one piece affects another. We’re not thinking big enough – or forward enough – to address the issues we’ll need to address if we want to keep our nation moving 30 years from now...

Photo of bridge with congested traffic

Continue Reading Coming soon: Beyond Traffic ››
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With over 95% of all U.S. foreign trade by volume moving across oceans onboard ever-increasing sized vessels, barge tows transporting millions of tons of coal and other bulk commodities on our inland waterways, and government-owned and commercial vessels carrying U.S. military equipment and supplies to and from overseas contingencies, our Nation’s reliance on marine transportation is stronger today than it has ever been.

As the agency within the DOT that develops and promotes American marine transportation and the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Maritime Administration—or “MARAD”—works diligently to ensure the dependability and security of this system along with its intermodal connections for the movement of people and freight. With 2014 coming to a close, I have been impressed with my team and proud to look back on what has been a highly productive year for MARAD.  Most importantly, we delivered results on a number of measures to accomplish our mission...

M/V Cape Rise in Port Arthur, Texas

Continue Reading A Momentous Year for MARAD ››
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Earlier this week, I was in Dearborn, Michigan, to celebrate completion of the John D. Dingell Transit Center. This multimodal transit center, funded by a Recovery Act grant of $28.2 million, is a great example of how a collaborative approach to station development can meet the needs of everyone involved. The new station in Dearborn is a win for the disability community, freight shippers, and passenger rail.

One of the center’s most significant achievements is its accessibility. The platforms at the new station have been designed to provide level boarding to all rail passengers directly from the platform to the new fleet of passenger rail cars that will operate throughout the Midwest network. By coordinating respectfully with each other, project partners were able to engineer a solution that ensured the rights of the disability community and ensured the flow of freight traffic was not impinged...

Photo of F.R.A. Administrator Joe Szabo at Dearborn Station

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