Most of you are familiar with the high cost of congestion and its impact on our nation’s roadways, our economic competitiveness, the environment, and the time commuters needlessly lose stuck in traffic each year. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the total financial cost of congestion in 2011 was $121 billion. Of that total, about $27 billion worth was wasted time and diesel fuel from trucks moving goods on the system.
So what to do?
I’ll tell you what Northern California has done. Just recently, I joined Congressman Jerry McNerney and other state and local officials at the Port of Stockton for the dedication of M-580, an important Marine Highway project known as the “California Green Trade Corridor.”
Ensuring that producers and suppliers can ship freight effectively from coast to coast and to markets around the world is a key part of the DOT mission. But when American forces are deployed abroad, the cargo supporting their efforts becomes particularly important, and our Maritime Administration (MARAD) works hard to sustain our troops with the food, equipment, and personnel they need to do their jobs and return home safely.
Yesterday at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Acting Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen reminded students that "logistics matter." The business of moving, supplying, and maintaining our joint forces is critical to their success. Logistics determine whether we can deploy a force at all; they determine where and when we can do so; and they determine the tempo and reach with which our forces can fight.
Acting Administrator Jaenichen also made it clear to students that, when it comes to logistics, MARAD has their backs.
On Tuesday, FRA issued Final State Rail Plan Guidance to assist States in their ongoing effort to plan for and invest in a higher-performing rail network.
The guidance will help States better identify their transportation challenges and understand the role that rail – freight and passenger – can play in ensuring the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods.
State rail plans are the blueprint, and the forerunner of all projects to come. Any time states apply for federal funding, planning must be complete in order to compete effectively for these funds. A rail plan puts states in a much better position to have projects ready for funding when and if funding becomes available. The guidance FRA issued Tuesday will help them develop market-based solutions and increase their readiness.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is an international organization of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Like everyone here at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the members of CVSA share a single purpose--to keep the commercial vehicles and drivers on our roadways moving safely.
Earlier this week at the CVSA Annual Conference in Denver, I gave our safety partners a brief overview of FMCSA’s accomplishments and priorities.
Each day at the Maritime Administration we work tirelessly to achieve our mission to foster, promote, and develop the merchant maritime industry of the United States. Ensuring that our maritime industry continues to thrive is an economic and national security imperative.
So, when the Duluth Seaway Port Authority was selected last week to receive a grant from DOT’s 2013 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program, I jumped at the chance to visit the Port of Duluth-Superior and make the $10 million grant announcement.
Thanks to DOT’s TIGER program, last week was a great one for American rail. Of the $474 million in funding awarded to 52 projects in 37 states, $146 million of it – or about 30 percent of all funding – went to 17 rail projects in 16 states, extending the program’s four-year reach to 48 states and $808 million in project funding.
Supporting President Obama’s call to “Fix-it First,” I had the pleasure of announcing two of these grant awards in person, and to see firsthand the commitment of state, city, and community leaders to do what it takes to enhance the safety, efficiency and reliability of their freight rail systems.
FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin; photo courtesy Vermont Digger, John Herrick
Last week Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau and I had the opportunity to see how transportation projects funded through DOT's TIGER program are improving the quality of life in Virginia and Arkansas.
The TIGER transformations are something worth seeing. Which is why I travelled to Richmond to announce a TIGER grant that will rehabilitate the Lexington Delta Frame Bridges along I-64 in Rockbridge County.
I-64 is an economic fulcrum in the Old Dominion. It serves commuters, tourists, Virginia’s economy, and the nation--in part by providing vital access for freight heading to and from the Hampton Roads ports.
Projects support President Obama’s call to create ladders of opportunity, ‘Fix it First,’ and support economic growth
I am proud to announce that DOT's TIGER is back. In this latest round of our Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery competitive grant program, 52 transportation projects in 37 states will receive a total of $474 million.
The projects TIGER supports ensure a stronger transportation system for future generations by repairing existing roads, bridges, rail, and transit; connecting people to new jobs and opportunities; and contributing to our nation’s economic growth. These projects are the best argument for increased investment in America's transportation infrastructure.
Modern infrastructure is a vital component of a thriving economy. However, re-building America’s highways, railroads and ports would do little good if each individual mode doesn’t successfully integrate and effectively function with the others. A brand new interstate, for example, does little good for moving freight if it can’t service the nearby marine port or inland transshipment rail facility that depends on it.
That’s why it’s exciting to see what can happen when transportation planners get it right – like the new Southwest Regional Intermodal Freight Transportation Hub at America’s Central Port in Granite City, Illinois. This new facility will link six rail lines and four interstate highways to the M-55 and M-70 marine highways to capture and transport cargo from Chicago and other northern regions to the Gulf of Mexico and international markets.
I recently blogged about a new fleet of Amtrak locomotives being tested at the Transportation Technology Center, (TTC) in Colorado – today I’m here to tell you how this same center is training first responders to respond to a rail accident involving hazardous materials.
The Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC), housed at TTC, has trained more than 50,000 men and women since it opened in 1985. Today, in addition to serving the transportation industry, SERTC trains the public safety officials from local communities, the chemical industry, government agencies, and emergency response contractors from all over the world. In fact, there’s nowhere else in the nation where emergency responders can receive such extensive, hands-on, realistic training to prepare for a rail accident involving tank cars carrying hazardous materials.