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U.S. Department of Transportation 2010 Record of Accomplishment: Improving Safety, Restoring Economic Health, Investing in America’s Infrastructure

“I’m proud of our achievements over the last year and believe we have made Americans safer and our economy stronger. We will continue working to improve safety across all modes of transportation, aiding the economic recovery through strategic infrastructure investments and supporting America’s long-term growth through a sustainable and efficient transportation network.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation built on previous successes and launched new initiatives to improve safety across all modes of transportation, support the economic recovery, and invest in America’s future.

Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary LaHood, DOT made safety its top priority. In 2009, American roads were the safest they have ever been, with the lowest traffic fatality and injury rates ever recorded.  DOT is pressing forward on its traffic safety efforts to combat distracted driving, drunk driving and promote seat belt use in order to reduce traffic deaths and injuries even further.

In particular, Secretary LaHood and DOT continued to highlight and combat the deadly epidemic of distracted driving, which killed nearly 5,500 people in 2009 and injured half a million others. In 2010, Secretary LaHood convened experts, safety advocates, law enforcement and others for the second national Distracted Driving Summit. There, he announced new regulations to prevent unsafe cell phone use by railroad operators and commercial vehicle drivers. In April, DOT also launched pilot enforcement programs in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York which have already substantially reduced cell phone use while driving in those areas.

On aviation safety, Secretary LaHood and Administrator Randy Babbitt of the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a landmark rule to combat pilot fatigue.  Ending years of deadlock, DOT issued the proposal in September 2010 to help ensure pilots are rested and ready whenever they are scheduled to fly.

The FAA also continues to make improvements and upgrades to NextGen, the comprehensive overhaul of our national airspace system that will modernize air traffic control operations. NextGen will improve safety as well as make air travel more convenient, dependable, and efficient than ever.

DOT also sought to expand consumer protections for airline passengers.  In April, a DOT rule went into effect prohibiting airlines from subjecting passengers to lengthy tarmac delays and long delays without food or water.  Building on that rulemaking, Secretary LaHood has proposed additional consumer protections for air travelers that will increase compensation for passengers bumped from flights, make it easier and cheaper to change and cancel reservations, and ensure that passengers know exactly what their ticket and baggage will cost.

Supporting the nation’s economic recovery has been another top priority.  The Obama Administration made historic investments in America’s infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and DOT has worked to deliver the maximum economic benefits of those investments.  More than $40.8 billion in Recovery Act money has been awarded to more than 15,000 highway, airport, transit, port and high-speed rail projects across the country.

Safety

“As the grandfather of nine, I take safety personally. Every time my grandkids get in a car, bus, train, or plane, I need to know that they are safe.  At the U.S. Department of Transportation, our fundamental mission is to help Americans move safely from one place to another. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. So our solemn obligation – the responsibility with which the American people have entrusted us – is to help prevent those accidents. As long as President Barack Obama and I are on the job, we will not take that trust lightly. When it comes to safety, we will not take a back seat to anyone.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
October 4, 2010

Distracted Driving

  •     Second national Distracted Driving Summit

As part of DOT’s ongoing efforts to combat America’s distracted driving epidemic, DOT held the second national Distracted Driving Summit on September 21, 2010 in Washington, DC.  The Summit brought together transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, and people affected by distraction-related crashes to share the latest research, technology, policy, public outreach, and enforcement practices to combat distracted driving.

  •     Anti-distracted driving regulations

In September 2010, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule restricting railroad operating employees from improperly using cell phones and other distracting electronic devices.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also issued a final rule banning text messaging while operating a commercial motor vehicle.  And the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed a rulemaking that would work in conjunction with the FMCSA ban and restrict the use of electronic devices by drivers during the operation of a motor vehicle containing hazardous materials.

  •     “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other”

In April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a pilot enforcement program called “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other.”  Currently under way in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York, the program tests whether increased law enforcement efforts and public service announcements can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.  Based on observations and surveys through September 2010, hand-held cell phone use has dropped 56 percent in Hartford and 38 percent in Syracuse.  Texting while driving has declined 68 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Syracuse.

  •     Supported the creation of FocusDriven, the first anti-distracted driving advocacy organization

The 2009 Distracted Driving Summit led to the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit victims’ advocacy organization.  FocusDriven President Jennifer Smith, who lost her mother in a distracted driving accident in 2008, decided to form a nonprofit in the model of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) after attending DOT’s summit and meeting other victims’ families.  With the help of the National Safety Council, FocusDriven officially launched in January 2010 at DOT headquarters.

  •     Adoption of anti-distracted driving laws and policies

Throughout the year, Secretary LaHood called on states to adopt tough penalties for cell phone use while driving, and DOT released sample legislation lawmakers could use to pass texting bans in their states. In all, thirty states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have banned text messaging for all drivers.  Twelve of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone.  Eight states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. And in May, Secretary LaHood helped launch a global effort against distracted driving when he joined United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as he issued a directive barring more than 40,000 U.N. employees from texting behind the wheel while driving U.N.-owned vehicles.

  •     Faces of Distracted Driving

In November 2010, Secretary LaHood launched “Faces of Distracted Driving,” an online video series exploring the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.  The series features people from across the country that have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes.

Road Safety

  •     Roadway fatalities reach historic lows

Under the leadership of the Obama Administration and Secretary LaHood, America’s roads are the safest they have ever been.  In September, NHTSA announced that 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded.  Additionally, total highway deaths fell to the lowest number since 1950.  In sum, the nation has enjoyed 17 consecutive quarters of highway fatality reductions.

  •     New 5-star rating system

In October, NHTSA unveiled a new 5-Star Ratings System that uses more rigorous tests, better crash data, and higher standards to make safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.  The upgraded ratings system evaluates side pole crash testing and crash prevention-technologies and uses female crash test dummies for the first time.  These new standards will be applied to all vehicles produced in 2011 and beyond.

  •     Rear visibility proposed rule to help eliminate blind zones

In December, NHTSA announced a proposed rulemaking that would help eliminate blind zones behind vehicles that can hide the presence of pedestrians, especially young children and the elderly. The proposed rule was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007.

  •     “No Refusal” initiative to combat drunk driving

In December, as part of DOT’s annual “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign, Secretary LaHood announced a national “No Refusal” initiative to help put a stop to drunk driving.  The “No Refusal” strategy, already being employed in 14 states, allows law enforcement officers to quickly obtain warrants from “on call” judges to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.  This enforcement effort will help protect lives and keep drunk drivers off the nation’s roadways.

Aviation Safety

  •     Proposal to combat pilot fatigue

In September, Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced a landmark proposed rulemaking to combat pilot fatigue.  This proposal would help better protect the 700 million Americans who fly each year by making sure pilots are rested and ready for whatever mission they are scheduled to fly.  The rule would require that pilots be given an opportunity to get nine hours of rest before a flight, receive a greater number of hours off duty every week, and be limited on the numbers of hours they can fly weekly and monthly.

  •     Proposed new consumer air travel protections

Building on DOT's 2009 rulemaking that banned carriers from subjecting passengers to long tarmac delays and other deceptive practices, Secretary LaHood proposed new consumer protections for air travelers in June.  Specifically, the new rule would: increase compensation for passengers involuntarily bumped from flights; allow passengers to make and cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty; require full and prominently displayed disclosure of baggage fees as well as refunds and expense reimbursement when bags are not delivered on time; require fair price advertising; prohibit price increases after a ticket is purchased; and mandate timely notice of flight status changes.

  •     Launched new NextGen technologies

In 2010, FAA continued rolling out improvements and upgrades as part of NextGen, the comprehensive overhaul of our national airspace system that will make air travel more convenient and dependable while ensuring flight is as safe, secure, and hassle-free as possible.  FAA launched Automatic Dependence Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) – one of the cornerstones of NextGen that uses satellites to track air traffic more precisely – in critical areas like the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, Louisville, and Philadelphia.  FAA also issued the final ADS-B rule so aircraft operators know what avionics they need to put in their aircraft in order to meet equipment requirements by 2020.

Transit Safety

  •     Transit Safety Legislation

In December 2009, the Obama Administration and Secretary LaHood sent the first ever public transportation-specific legislation to Congress.  The bill, the Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009, proposed establishing and enforcing federal safety standards for rail transit systems to ensure a higher level of safety. The Senate Banking Committee unanimously passed the bill and awaits further Congressional action.

Rail Safety

  •     Positive Train Control

The result of over a decade of work by FRA and its stakeholders, Secretary LaHood announced in January a final rule requiring the installation of Positive Train Control technology on the nation’s major rail lines and commuter and intercity passenger rail routes.  Positive Train Control sends and receives a continuous stream of data transmitted by wireless signals about the location, speed, and direction of trains and will help prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, and accidents caused by human error or misaligned switches.

Motor Carrier Safety

  •     Compliance Safety Accountability Program (CSA 2010)

In December, FMCSA ushered in a new era of commercial truck and bus safety with the national launch of the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) enforcement program.  The centerpiece of CSA is the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which will analyze all safety-based violations from inspections and crash data to determine a commercial motor carrier’s on-road performance. This new safety program will allow FMCSA to more easily identify unsafe commercial truck and bus companies and deploy a range of corrective actions to address a carrier’s specific safety problems.

  •     Proposed a new rule to require seatbelts in all new motorcoaches

In August, Secretary LaHood announced a proposed rulemaking that would require new motorcoaches to include lap-shoulder belts to help prevent driver and passenger ejections during a collision.  According to NHTSA research, wearing lap-shoulder belts on motorcoaches could reduce the risk of passengers being killed in a rollover crash by 77 percent.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety

  •     Pipeline Safety Legislation

DOT transmitted its legislative proposal to reauthorize the pipeline safety program on September 15.  This legislation will provide stronger oversight of the nation’s pipelines; increase penalties for violations of pipeline safety rules; and allocate additional resources for enforcement.

International Safety

  •     Supporting the response effort after the earthquake in Haiti

As part of Operation Unified Response, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) activated the Cornhusker State, a Ready Reserve Force crane ship whose crew assisted with relief efforts in Haiti until March 12, 2010.  MARAD also provided berthing, meals, and laundry services to military personnel working in Haiti; sailed to Guantanamo, Cuba to pick up aid; and provided potable water to assist with the wash down of all equipment being used for agriculture inspection.

Restoring Economic Health & Investing in Our INFRASTRUCTURE

“When President Obama took office, America was facing two extraordinary challenges: Our families, friends, and neighbors were losing jobs.  And our infrastructure was overburdened and obsolete.  So, the president deployed an economic plan that takes on both of these problems at once: A plan that builds bridges between Americans who need jobs and jobs that need doing.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
October 28, 2010

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

When Congress passed and President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, DOT began implementing the most significant jobs and infrastructure legislation since the New Deal.  And for the last 18 months, DOT has been hard at work ensuring that these funds are used to put Americans back to work while addressing America’s transportation infrastructure needs.

  •     Federal Highway Administration

In September, FHWA designated its final Recovery Act project, meeting the September 30th deadline for awarding nearly $27.5 billion for more than 13,000 highway and bridge projects throughout the country.  Nearly 6,300 projects are complete and more than 5,800 are under way, meaning Americans will benefit from more than 41,000 miles of improved pavement.  And, because so many projects came in under budget, the FHWA was able to fund an additional 811 highway projects between March and September 2010.

  •     Federal Railroad Administration

In January, President Obama and Vice President Biden announced $8 billion in Recovery Act funds to begin developing a national high-speed intercity passenger rail network that will provide a safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable alternative to highway and air travel.  In October, DOT continued building on those Recovery Act investments with an additional $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding from the 2010 budget.

  •     Federal Aviation Administration

Under the Recovery Act, the FAA awarded $1.3 billion to fund 372 airport improvement projects as well as air traffic control facility and system upgrades.  The grants funded projects at airports serving commercial passengers, cargo, and general aviation.  Over 84 percent of the projects funded through the Recovery Act are substantially complete and in use by the public.  Because of low construction bids for projects, more Recovery Act dollars were available for additional facilities, equipment, and airport projects.

  •     Federal Transit Administration

In 2010, FTA met and exceeded all the spending deadlines set forth by the Recovery Act.  By March 2010, 100 percent of formula funds were awarded and by September 2010, all formula and discretionary funds had been allocated. In all, FTA awarded 1,072 grants totaling $8.8 billion. In the first quarter of 2010, over 14,000 jobs were created or retained as a result of these investments.

  •     TIGER Program

On February 17, 2010, DOT marked the one year anniversary of the Recovery Act by awarding $1.5 billion in TIGER grants to 51 projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area, in particular, those located in economically-distressed areas and with strong job-creation potential. DOT received nearly 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia for the TIGER Discretionary Grants Program.
Building on the success of the first round of TIGER grants under the Recovery Act, Secretary LaHood announced an additional $600 million for TIGER II grants from the 2010 budget, representing 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states.  DOT received nearly 1,000 TIGER II grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

  •     Maritime Administration

MARAD has announced 70 grants worth $98 million to improve small shipyards throughout the United States.

  •     Voices of the Recovery Act

In October, DOT launched an interactive “Voices of the Recovery Act” web feature to share the stories of workers on Recovery Act projects around the country.  Through the online map, visitors can click on videos of construction workers and hear in their own words what the Recovery Act has meant to them in tough economic times for the construction industry. 

Open Skies

  •     Signed 100th Open Skies partnership

In November, DOT signed its 100th open skies partnership with Colombia.  DOT also reached agreement with the European Union on a number of outstanding issues that had remained after an initial open skies agreement was signed several years ago.  The freedom and flexibility that these agreements afford produce major benefits for our nation’s airlines, their workers, the communities they serve, and consumers, who have greater choice in service and fares as a result.

Future of Aviation Advisory Committee

  •     Created and received recommendations for the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee

In April, representatives from the airlines, airports, labor, manufacturing, academia, consumer rights organizations, the financial industry, environmental groups, and general aviation were selected to participate in the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee (FAAC).  They were charged with providing advice to ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry and its ability to handle evolving transportation needs, challenges, and opportunities in this global economy. Twenty-three recommendations addressing safety, workforce, financing, competition, and environmental concerns were presented to Secretary LaHood on December 15. DOT will review the recommendations and look for solutions that can be readily implemented to address some of the problem areas identified by the committee.

Buy America

  •     The Manufacturing Extension Partnership

As part of its Buy America work, DOT engaged in a broad effort with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to proactively identify manufacturing opportunities and marry them with US manufacturers for high speed rail and other transportation projects.

  •     Buy America Website

The Department also unveiled a new Buy America webpage that will help American businesses reap the full benefits of the Obama Administration’s historic investments in transportation infrastructure. It also provides access to each DOT agency’s specific Buy America provisions, requirements, and waiver processes. These provisions ensure that transportation infrastructure projects are built with American-made products, support an entire supply chain of American companies and their employees, and maximize the economic benefit of infrastructure investments.

Small Business Support

  •     First Ever Small Business Summit

In March, DOT and the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) hosted a first of its kind two-day summit bringing together private and public sector businesses of all sizes, government agencies, and trade associations to discuss and address challenges facing small businesses is this economy.

  •     Bonding Education Program

In April, OSDBU launched a program with the Surety and Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) to get small businesses bond ready. This program includes a 10-week informational course and pairs businesses with local bond producers to work side by side in the bonding process. The first three cities were Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta.

Promoting Sustainability and livability

“The facts are clear: Our patterns of energy use – both where we get our energy supplies and how we consume them – are contributing to a grave and growing crisis.  The question is no longer whether the dangers to our health, environment, economy, and national security are real. They are. The question is “what are we going to do about them?”  We in transportation have special obligations and opportunities to take action – given that the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of the United States’ oil use and contributes one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
July 28, 2010

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)

  •     Developed plan to implement tough fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks

In keeping with President Obama’s vision to reduce greenhouse gases and increase fuel efficiency, DOT and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 1, 2010 that they will begin the process of developing tougher greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks built in model years 2017 through 2025. This will build on the success of the first phase of the national program covering cars from model years 2012 through 2016.

  •     First national fuel efficiency standards for commercial trucks and buses

On October 25, 2010, DOT and EPA announced the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses.  This comprehensive national program is projected to reduce emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities

  •     Partnered with EPA and HUD to promote livability

The Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a federal interagency partnership between DOT, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Its goal is to provide communities with more, and more affordable, transportation opportunities that connect housing  with good jobs, education, and other essential services. Since the partnership’s creation last year, DOT, EPA, and HUD have worked to improve interagency coordination to help remove barriers to strategic community planning. As one example of this coordination, EPA and HUD both helped review and select DOT’s TIGER program projects.

  •     Partnered with HUD to award livability planning grants

DOT’s TIGER II grants marked the first time that DOT and HUD joined together to award planning grants that will ultimately lead to projects integrating transportation, housing, and urban development.  Up to $35 million in TIGER II planning grants and up to $40 million in HUD Sustainable Community Challenge Grants were sought by approximately 900 applicants at all levels of government across the country.  DOT funding can be used to plan a transportation project, while HUD’s funds can be used for localized planning efforts, such as development around a transit stop and zone or building code updates and improvements.  Fourteen projects were funded jointly by HUD and DOT.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations

  •     Developed recommendations to integrate bicycle/pedestrian needs into transportation planning

In March 2010, DOT formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities to integrate the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in federally-funded road projects. DOT discouraged transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians and encouraged investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.  Such recommendations include treating walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes, ensuring convenient access for people of all ages and abilities, and protecting sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected.  Through the TIGER program, DOT funded major projects across the country that allow Americans to safely and conveniently get where they need to go on a bike or on foot.

Suisun Bay Cleanup

  •     Removed ships from the Suisun Bay ghost fleet

In April, MARAD, the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Natural Resources Defense Council agreed on a plan to remove 52 obsolete ships from California's Suisun Bay for recycling.  The cleanup and removal of the decaying ships will dramatically improve the environment in Suisun Bay.  In 2010, eleven ships were removed from the bay ahead of schedule.

Monday, December 27, 2010