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It's no secret to Fast Lane readers that the GROW AMERICA proposal I sent to Congress earlier this spring has a number of elements that will improve the way our transportation system helps people and freight get where they need to go safely and efficiently. I'm also happy to share that GROW AMERICA has a number of features that would improve the environmental sustainability of American transportation.

This makes GROW AMERICA a very good fit with the Obama Administration's significant ongoing efforts to #ActOnClimate--including last week's report, “An All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth,” and yesterday's proposed rulemaking to cut carbon pollution from power plants.

The GROW AMERICA Act protects the environment, helps cut carbon pollution by increasing the efficiency of the transportation system and encourages transportation choices that ease congestion on our highways and improves the quality of life in our communities...

Photo of California road congestion

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In 2009, we made a special commitment to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), that we would take the steps needed to restore the Academy in Kings Point, NY, to its rightful place as a jewel among the nation’s service academies. And last Friday, we celebrated one of the results of that commitment--a newly reconstructed Mallory Pier.

If we are going to ask our USMMA graduates to serve their country with distinction, it's only appropriate that we should provide them the tools and resources to prepare them for that effort. America deserves first-rate mariners, and Kings Point attracts first-rate students who give a hundred and ten percent every day. They deserve first-rate facilities to prepare them for service, including a modern waterfront.

With the 2012 addition of a state-of-the-art training vessel, the T/V Kings Pointer, and now a new Mallory Pier, DOT has made that waterfront a reality...

Photo of Victor Mendez with Midshipman Erin Hofstetter, First Class and Rear Admiral James Helis.
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Right now, on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Dutch-owned vessel Fortunagracht is making its way toward Antwerp, Belgium, laden with cargo for export from businesses throughout Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and other Midwest states.

The Fortunagracht is the linchpin of the new Cleveland-Europe Express service, a two-year agreement between the Port of Cleveland and the Spliethoff Group, the Netherlands' largest ship-owner. The agreement guarantees direct monthly service between Cleveland and Antwerp, providing Midwest manufacturers a better deal than sending their goods by truck or rail to an East Coast port for eventual shipment across the Atlantic.

Photo of Fortunagracht near Welland Canal

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According to Forbes Magazine, Austin is the fastest growing city in America this year. But with all that growth can come some growing pains. And one example of those pains can be seen on US 290, east of downtown Austin, where traffic has increased more than 78 percent since 1990.

And that has left folks stuck in congestion--every day. Luckily, things are looking up for local residents with the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.

The benefits of this project can’t be overstated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions.  And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.

Rendering of Manor Expressway

I visited Austin on Saturday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Manor Expressway –a 6.2 mile limited-access toll road that is tripling the capacity of US 290 between US 183 and SH 130.

The benefits of this project can’t be understated. It will improve safety for drivers. It will reduce congestion –and vehicle emissions.  And it will make transportation more efficient in Austin – creating jobs, increasing business opportunities, and improving quality of life.

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This morning, I was not about to let a little weather keep me from greeting the bicyclists who braved the rain on my first Bike To Work Day since becoming Transportation Secretary!

So I headed to Freedom Plaza, and was amazed to see that bike commuters were really coming out for this event despite the downpour. That's a tribute to their love of commuting by bicycle and also to the growing significance of Bike To Work Day as an annual celebration of bicycling as transportation.

Photo of Secretary Foxx at Bike To Work Day event
Photos courtesy Matt Kroneberger, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

And it is something worth celebrating. In fact, over the last decade, commuting by bicycle is up more than 60 percent...

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America’s growing population will require our nation’s freight network to haul 4 billion more tons of international freight annually by 2050, roughly the weight of 40,000 Washington Monuments. Since over 90 percent of imported cargo by volume already moves through our nation's ports today, a good portion of that 4 billion tons will be transported on American waterways and through our ports and intermodal hubs. So our infrastructure must be ready.

That’s why I was especially proud to help break ground yesterday on an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) at the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) in Florida. By increasing the efficiency and speed of container transfer between vessels and trains, the new ICTF will help JAXPORT support America’s future freight requirements and create long-term economic opportunities for the Jacksonville region in the form of good paying jobs.

Photo of golden spike ceremony at JAXPORT; photo courtesy JAXPORT

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This morning, Secretary Foxx blogged about the opening of Denver's revitalized Union Station, a model for the nation of multimodal mobility and of innovative financing. It's hard to think of a better project to kick-off a week that features two key celebrations: National Transportation Week and Infrastructure Week.

N.T.W. logoOn May 16, 1957, Congress approved the third Friday of May each year as National Defense Transportation Day. And in 1962, Congress updated the request to include the whole week as National Transportation Week to provide an opportunity to celebrate the community of transportation professionals who keep our country moving.

Infrastructure Week 2014 is led by a diverse partnership of organizations including the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Building America’s Future, 1776, the Organization for International Investment, the Value of Water Coalition, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Yesterday, in a post about energy transportation safety, I wrote that in the near future, we're going to have to move more energy. Well, the reality is that we’re going to have to move more everything --more people and more goods. In fact, by 2050, we’ll have to move almost twice the amount of freight we currently do.

And whether we are ready to do that safely and efficiently is more of an open question now than it ever has been, mostly because we have struggled to maintain transportation funding levels in recent years.

Earlier this week, I sent a letter to all the state departments of transportation. It warned them that, if action isn’t taken, the Highway Trust Fund could become insolvent as soon as August. And if that happens, it will be nearly impossible for communities to keep their infrastructure in good shape.

Photo of functionally obsolete bridge

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As Secretary Foxx has said many times, the only way we’re going to fix America’s transportation infrastructure is if everyone puts their ideas on the table and has an honest discussion about how we can find common ground and forge a path forward.

That’s why, one week ago, Secretary Foxx submitted the Department’s surface transportation proposal GROW AMERICA to Congress, and that’s why America’s maritime industry came together yesterday in Washington, D.C., to chart a sustainable marine transportation system course for the future...

The Maritime Administration's web banner

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Last Tuesday, it was a privilege to be able to send Congress the GROW AMERICA transportation bill, our comprehensive plan to create millions of good new jobs building the transportation system America will need to remain competitive in today’s economy. And it was an honor to cap the day by addressing the National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) annual citizen advocacy event, "NARP Day on the Hill."

NARP members know as well I do that America will be home to 100 million more people by 2050, so we need to make sure we give people as many transportation options as possible – including rail.

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