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Connecting manufacturers and markets

Last year, for the first time in 55 years, Louisville, Kentucky's "Appliance Park" began running a new assembly line. Refrigerators and washing machines started leaving the loading docks again, and workers' cars started showing up in the parking lot.

Louisville isn’t the only place this is happening. This is just one chapter in larger success story chronicling the recent resurgence of American manufacturing.

At DOT, we’re thinking about the next chapter of this manufacturing renaissance: about how those fridges and washing machines get from the loading dock to American stores and global markets, and about how those workers get home at the end of their shifts...

Photo of workers at G.E.'s Appliance Park

Panama Canal Expansion – The Future of Maritime Commerce

Last week, DOT’s Maritime Administration released the first of a comprehensive, multi-phase study forecasting the impact that the Panama Canal expansion will have on U.S. ports and our overall transportation system.

A key aspect to the study is an evaluation of our ports’ general “readiness” to handle the increased traffic that the widened canal will bring, both in cargo volume and vessel size.

For decades, the size of the Panama Canal has been a constraint on the maritime industry, which has been building ships that significantly exceed the canal's navigable dimensions, limiting direct international trade options, most especially for East and Gulf Coast ports of the United States.

Photograph of a container ship at Port of Baltimore   

Primary Freight Network will help move goods, economy

From the President and Vice President to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, and many others at DOT, the Obama Administration is working to keep the economy--and the freight that fuels it--moving forward. From ports to rail to roads, America needs a coordinated effort to keep our economic arteries flowing as effectively as possible.

Yesterday, as part of that ongoing effort, we proposed designating a series of highways as a Primary Freight Network.

Photo of truck approaching cargo port

Designating these sections of highway will help the States direct their road maintenance and improvement resources where they can have the biggest economic impact. As Administrator Mendez said, "By identifying critical freight highways, we will focus more attention on the routes upon which America’s businesses rely."

TIGER award to Port of Duluth will keep the cargo flowing

Each day at the Maritime Administration we work tirelessly to achieve our mission to foster, promote, and develop the merchant maritime industry of the United States.  Ensuring that our maritime industry continues to thrive is an economic and national security imperative.

So, when the Duluth Seaway Port Authority was selected last week to receive a grant from DOT’s 2013 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program, I jumped at the chance to visit the Port of Duluth-Superior and make the $10 million grant announcement.

Photo of Chip Jaenichen Making TIGER announcement at Port Duluth

DOT's TIGER Strengthening American Freight Rail

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. 

Photo of FRA Administrator Szabo with Vermont Governor Shumlin
FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin; photo courtesy Vermont Digger, John Herrick

How does your freight move?

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.

Freight Shipments Rose 1.2% in May from April

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.2 percent in May from April, rising after a one month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The May 2013 index level (114.3) was 20.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

TIGER to power Port of Northern Montana Multimodal Hub Center

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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