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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.

Photo of train with fuel cars

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Pie chart showing modal share of freight movement.

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.

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In cities and towns across the country, rail investments lead to more jobs, increased private sector buy-in, and better infrastructure for everyone. It’s a true win-win-win situation. And to fully realize the potential for rail in America, we must continue investing federal resources and leveraging them with our public and private sector partners.

That's the essence of what I said at a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on Innovative Rail Financing earlier this week. Funding the passenger rail investments America needs is an important challenge; fortunately DOT has a lot to build on.

Photo of new Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotive built by Siemens in the U.S.

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To get agricultural and manufacturing products to world markets, producers need to transport them in shipping containers that are standardized for trucks, trains, and ships. Unfortunately, businesses in Montana can't ship or receive containerized international cargo effectively because the state lacks an inland port capable of accepting and delivering intermodal unit trains.

That's where DOT's TIGER program comes in. This competitive grant program was designed to support transportation solutions that also generate economic growth. And today the program continued its track record of doing exactly that with a grant of $10 million for the Port of Northern Montana Multimodal Hub Center to expand the capacity of Montana’s producers.

“The Multimodal Hub Center will provide Montana with an inland port that will help increase trade and create economic opportunities for its residents and businesses,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Photo of a freight train near Shelby, Montana

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Devore Interchange project latest in DOT support to improve freight movement

California's Devore Interchange is a critical freight link serving 21,000 trucks each day. It links Interstates 15 and 215; and it connects freight traffic from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with critical points east. It also carries more than one million drivers per week and can back up as far as five miles due to excess volume.

A bottleneck like that doesn't just slow down San Bernardino County; it slows down our nation's economy. So we're pleased to see that California has broken ground on a modernized Devore Interchange that will relieve freight congestion through this critical corridor.

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau was on hand to help state and local officials celebrate the start of this important project. And he offered three terrific reasons for the $245 million federal investment to see this work through...

Infographic of traffic statistics for the Devore project area

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Today, I am thrilled to begin serving as the 17th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.  In my first official blog post, I wanted to tell you more about myself and my goals for leading DOT.

I believe in safe, effective transportation, and whether it is a bus, road, train, plane, or ship, our transportation system --at its best-- connects people to a better quality of life.

Photo of Anthony Foxx being sworn in as Secretary of Transportation with wife and two children alongside

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Tukwila Station construction and mudslide mitigation underway

One of the highlights of my four and a half years as Transportation Secretary has been the progress we've made speeding up intercity passenger rail. Americans are riding the rails in record numbers, and thanks to President Obama's vision for high-speed rail, DOT is working hard to ensure they can ride at higher speeds.

And yesterday, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo helped celebrate another milestone in that effort, the groundbreaking of a new passenger rail station in Tukwila, Washington.

Photo of the Sounder Station groundbreaking in Tukwila

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This morning, the National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) kicked off its first meeting, and everyone at DOT is excited to see this important effort move forward. After all, our ability to move freight plays an important role in our ability to grow the American economy. A healthy economy requires a transportation network that is always improving the way it circulates freight.

About 48 million tons of freight are transported across America each day, and every little improvement to our freight system can make a tremendous economic difference. That adds up to a daily value of $46 billion worth of new refrigerators, cars, food, raw materials, and machinery bound for factories, markets, and consumers.

Photo of Secretary LaHood addressing first National Freight Advisory Committee meeting

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One of the most important components of a healthy economy is modern port infrastructure to feed our maritime transportation system.  By investing in our waterways, we create jobs, improve economic competitiveness, and build prosperity over the long term.

Today at the Rhode Island Ports Showcase in Providence, Acting Maritime Administrator, Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen spoke about DOT’s commitment to making such investments.

Photo of Rep. Jim Langevin (front), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Acting Maritime Administrator Paul 'Chip' Jaenichen, and ProvPort Chief Operating Officer Bruce Waterson
Rep. Jim Langevin (front), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Acting Maritime Administrator Paul 'Chip' Jaenichen, and ProvPort Chief Operating Officer Bruce Waterson
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