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With the U.S. population projected to grow by 90 million people over the next 30 years, and strong evidence that access to affordable transportation plays a significant role in social and economic mobility, we must face this challenge head on. Even in a difficult fiscal and political climate.

But, let's remember one of the key lessons in American history: challenging times can present opportunities to find new allies, a fresh vision, and creative, new approaches to long-standing problems . I am proud to say that this Department is pressing forward in a number of exciting and transformative policy areas. And yesterday, at the launch of Transportation For America's (T4A) new alliance to help revitalize our nation's investment in transportation, I highlighted one of my favorites --Ladders of Opportunity. 

As a former mayor, Transportation Secretary Foxx is especially focused on transportation investments and policies that connect people safely to jobs, education, and health care; that grow local economies and the U.S. economy; and that improve quality of life.

Transportation for America logo

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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."

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With the opening Friday of a fourth tube in the Caldecott Tunnel, commuters in the Bay Area will turn the page on a new chapter in transportation.

It’s a chapter about the effectiveness of partnership, a partnership of dedicated workers, a 130-ton rock-cutting drill, the state of California, and –I’m proud to say– the U.S. Department of Transportation. How effective? As the Contra Costa Times reported, the new lanes opened ahead of schedule and under budget.

Photot of workers putting finishing touches on Caldecott Tunnel tube
Workers put finishing touches on new Caldecott bore; all photos courtesy Caltrans.
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Yesterday, I addressed the members of the National League of Cities, and it was a pleasure to be among leaders who understand the value of investing in America's transportation. Because League members know that, last year, drivers in this country's cities spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic. That's more than a week of full-time work.

Photo of a congested suburban road

This isn't to say the United States doesn't have the best transportation system in the world. We do.

Rather, the problems we’re witnessing in our cities are in large part problems of congestion. And those are problems that we know won’t go away on their own; in fact, population pressures will make them worse.

By 2042, America’s population will swell by nearly a third, up almost 90 million –with 19 new metropolitan areas reaching the million-person mark...

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"Significant and Seamless" initiative will accelerate new technologies to reduce key safety risks

Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that, while highway deaths over the past five years continue to remain at historic lows, the number of deaths on U.S. roads increased to 33,561 in 2012, up 3.3 percent from 2011.

To a Department where safety is always our number one priority, any increase in the number of traffic fatalities is cause for concern. 

That’s why NHTSA today announced a new effort that involves the agency and the automotive industry working together to aggressively accelerate technologies that would improve safety by targeting some of the most persistent causes of traffic fatalities.

Graphic of crash avoidance technology

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Historic consumer rules keep air travelers protected

The holiday travel season is upon us, and it's an exciting time of year for visiting loved ones, hitting the slopes, or escaping the cold.  Wherever you and your family are heading, we at DOT want your travel to be as stress-free as possible.

That’s why we’re pleased to report that airline consumer complaints filed with our Aviation Consumer Protection Division between January and September 2013 were down 14.1 percent from the first nine months of 2012. In addition, complaints filed in September 2013 were down 6.8 percent from September 2012.

Photo of travelers moving through airport

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I often say that, for all the work we do at the Department of Transportation, safety is by far the most important. 

Nothing else comes close. 

The fact is, we could have the most state-of-the art vehicles in the world, but none of it would matter if the roads they drove on weren't safe --or vice versa. And thanks to the efforts of this Department and of automobile and truck manufacturers, State DOTs, and so many others, we've been able to make progress through the decades toward greater safety.

Photo of a road crew installing safety edge pavement

The work of making our roads safer doesn’t get easier--the more progress we make, the harder it is to move the needle further on safety.

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Today, the Obama Administration is holding its 5th Tribal Nations Conference, and we at DOT are proud to be part of the President’s initiative to build a more respectful, collaborative relationship that moves our nations closer to our shared goals. One of those shared goals is improving transportation.

And that is a key part of our mission at DOT. We are committed to ensuring that everyone –regardless of where you live– has access to safe transportation.

Today, I’m happy to announce the latest evidence of that commitment as we award $8.6 million to 183 tribes to increase transportation safety on their lands. These new funds will help improve and protect the roads for everyone who depends on them.

Photo of Secretary Foxx at the White House Tribal Nations Conference
Photo courtesy U.S. Department of the Interior.
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Relocating can be one of the most exciting and important decisions a family or individual makes. 

When families relocate, they’re choosing more than just a house or apartment: they are also selecting the schools, job opportunities, green spaces and other characteristics that come with that community.   And, at the center of it all is a community’s transportation network because people need to get to work, kids need to get to school, and families need to get to critical services. 

Screenshot of location affordability portal

That’s why, HUD and DOT have launched the Location Affordability Portal, a user-friendly tool that helps consumers calculate the true cost of their combined housing and transportation expenses, helping them make more informed decisions about where to live and work.

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When people ask me about my priorities as Transportation Secretary, I always say that safety must come first at DOT.

But we must do more than ensure safety and maintain our current infrastructure.  With the U.S. population expected to grow by 100 million in the next 30 years, we must also make sure our transportation system is prepared to meet that growing demand.  It will be a big challenge, but it also represents a powerful opportunity. 

Photo of Secretary Foxx greeting a passenger on the Loyola Streetcar line

Continue Reading Transportation challenges, ››
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