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.
With ReCat, busy FedEx World Hub increases departure capacity
Last week, on a visit to Memphis, I was fortunate to have the opportunity of touring the FedEx World Hub at Memphis International Airport. The FedEx facility covers more than 800 acres and is operated by more than 11,000 FedEx employees moving an average of over 1.5 million packages through the hub each day.
What I saw is a terrific example of using innovation to improve transportation...
Last weekend in Wisconsin, the National Governors Association held its annual Summer Meeting. There, governors met to discuss the critical issues facing states and to share their experiences and best practices for addressing those issues. I was honored to participate in a joint session of the NGA's Economic Development & Commerce and Natural Resources committees, "Under Construction: Building a National Consensus on Infrastructure."
In kicking off the session, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard reminded participants that "Infrastructure is a backbone to our nation and our states, sustaining quality of life and promoting the flow of commerce. As governors, we understand the connections between roads and bridges, locks and dams, and the communities they serve."
"Infrastructure connects us," Governor Daugaard said, "and its planning, construction, operation, and maintenance requires a national commitment."
Our Federal Railroad Administration has helped reduce train accidents by 43 percent over the last decade; their work helped make 2012 the safest year in American rail history. But when safety is your number one priority, there's no resting. Last Friday, the FRA took another step forward in rail safety, issuing an Emergency Order and Safety Advisory to help prevent unattended trains carrying hazardous materials from moving unintentionally.
Friday's announcement was made in response to the tragic July 6 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. While the full investigation has not yet to concluded, we can't afford to wait to take steps that would help prevent a similar incident from occurring here in the U.S. The American people deserve no less.
In May, $98.6 billion in goods moved into and out of the U.S. across our borders with Mexico ($43.8 billion) and Canada ($54.8 billion). Wondering how those raw materials, parts, supplies, finished goods, and food that fuel our economy got where they needed to go? The pie chart above has your breakdown. Is there an alpha dog in the NAFTA trade pack? Trucking makes its claim with nearly 61 percent of U.S. trade with our North American neighbors.