Today, the Obama Administration is hosting the first-ever virtual "Big Block of Cheese Day," during which dozens of White House officials will take to social media for a day long 'open house' to answer your questions in real-time.
And we're happy to announce that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will participate with a Twitter townhall on "Rebuilding America's Infrastructure" from 4:30 to 5:00 pm (ET).
As a former mayor, Secretary Foxx knows transportation from the most local level of serving citizens and connecting communities all the way to the national level of innovative financing and freight policy. So, if you're interested in transportation, opportunity, and moving America forward, @SecretaryFoxx is the place to be.
That's today, from 4:30 to 5:00 pm. And you can start asking questions now using the hashtag #AsktheWH.
It's only a short time from now, so tell your friends, your family, and your fellow commuters to join us online today!
Between Communities, Across Modes
Each year, the Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting brings thousands of professionals to Washington, DC, to discuss an extraordinary range of transportation topics from the 30,000-foot policy view down to the minute details of pavement performance data. It's a real highlight of the calendar for many in the transportation community, including a lot of us here at DOT.
If you attended TRB this week, you probably heard the words "partnership" and "collaborate" more than once. And if you work in transportation, you'll probably be hearing a lot more of them.
Today I spoke at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual meeting about a deficit that is threatening our country and the priorities I’m proposing to counter it.
In recent years, we've been a nation careening from crisis to crisis, keeping our foot on the brakes of economic growth, and creating uncertainty because we can’t agree on how to fix a deficit. Except that the deficit most people think of --the fiscal deficit-- is not the one I mean.
I spoke today about our infrastructure deficit.
While the fiscal deficit has been shrinking, the infrastructure deficit is growing every year.
For the past few years, it is has been my privilege to see firsthand a dramatic change in government culture: the public availability and application of data. This rapid increase of Open Data is not valuable in and of itself; its value lies in the ability of data to tell a story, guide how we direct our resources during a disaster, and help consumers make more informed decisions.
At DOT, we've been leaders of Data.Gov's Safety community. And yesterday, at the second annual Safety Datapalooza, innovators from government and the private sector shared some of the achievements in public safety made possible by this revolution in Open Data.
In the transportation sphere, leaders of two startups using safety data --Keychain Logisitcs and Bustr--shared how they've taken the data DOT makes publicly available and created useful apps for consumers as well as business owners.
When you get a bunch of transportation people in a room to talk about highway operations--like we did yesterday at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board--interesting things are bound to happen. Okay, it might not appear to be an exciting topic, but roadway operations really can make a big difference in our everyday lives.
What exactly do we mean by operations? Keeping our highways open and flowing at the speed a growing economy requires...
In 1977 –the year after I began my railroading career– 48 railroad employees lost their lives in switching accidents. That’s four lives every month in switching accidents alone. That's more than a statistic to me. My father is a retired switchman; I switched box cars; and five of my friends have been killed on duty during my railroading career.
More than three decades later, we have made significant progress. In 2013, only one employee died during a switching operation. And while we still see this as one too many, it shows us what’s possible when the Federal Railroad Administration, the rail industry, and rail labor come together to form safety partnerships and eliminate risks.
Photo courtesy joeknowsphoto
During the past week, we've been looking at the 2013 accomplishments of some of the agencies within DOT. Today, we're wrapping up our retrospective with a look at some of what we achieved across multiple modes of transportation.
2013 was a year of big changes at DOT. We operated under the first full calendar year of MAP-21, the current national surface transportation law, including its expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program, or TIFIA. We also launched our National Freight Advisory Committee to help guide the Department's freight improvement efforts. And of course, we welcomed aboard our current Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, while saying goodbye to outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood. But as you’ll see below, one thing that didn’t change is our commitment to safety.
Our core goal at the Federal Railroad Administration is to ensure continuous safety improvement. Year after year, this is our measuring stick for success –and we are succeeding.
Over the past decade, train accidents have declined 43 percent, including a 41 percent drop in derailments and a 34 percent drop in accidents at highway-rail grade crossings. Meanwhile, preliminary data for 2013 shows we’re on pace for another record-setting year in railroad safety, with reductions in all categories of accidents.
In 2013 we worked to drive continuous safety improvements by:
- Advancing technical and human factors;
- Responding decisively; and
- Investing in high-performing rail...
Here at the Maritime Administration (MARAD), we continue working tirelessly to improve our marine transportation system with innovative projects across the country. As our economy rebuilds and jobs are created, we are reminded just how much the maritime industry has contributed to these growing numbers and more importantly. . . Why Maritime Matters!
That's why we spent 2013 continuing to:
- Support port infrastructure in advance of a newly widened Panama Canal;
- Invest in U.S. shipyards;
- Move more freight on our rivers, Great Lakes, and waterways, as well as through American river, lake, and sea ports; and
- Work toward a robust national maritime strategy...
The end of the year is a good time for reflection and looking back, 2013 was filled with accomplishments for the Federal Highway Administration. The new I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State is a good example of the outstanding work done this year by FHWA in partnership with state and local transportation agencies and the private sector.
Just four weeks after the old bridge collapsed on the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, the Washington State DOT put a temporary span in place. And fewer than four months after the collapse, a permanent span was open for business on a route that’s vital to motorists and freight movement in the Pacific Northwest. This work is a fitting representative of FHWA, because it shows how our commitment to using innovative tools and solutions is paying off.
The larger themes that make 2013 a year of accomplishment for FHWA are represented in that example:
- Implementing MAP-21;
- Continuing to work with our partners through our Every Day Counts innovation initiative; and
- Helping Americans respond to disaster with Emergency Relief...