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The U.S. maritime industry continues to become greener each day as federal agencies, research centers, and ports work to reduce the industry's impact on our environment. Industry stakeholders understand how green business practices can significantly improve their bottom line while also helping ensure healthier waterways and port communities as well as a healthier workplace for maritime workers.

That’s why the Maritime Administration is partnering with the Department of Energy (DOE) and Sandia National Laboratories to explore the potential cost savings and emissions reductions through the use of hydrogen fuel cells to provide electrical power to ships at berths. This approach has the potential to offer a double bonus--first, allowing vessel operators to shut down diesel engines while in port, and second, using hydrogen fuel cells instead of carbon-based electrical power sources...

Photo of hydrogen fuel-cell unit in Honolulu

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We've had plenty of unusual winter weather this year--from the warm weather in Alaska to the Polar Vortex sweeping the country to yet another strong winter storm today disrupting the Southeast, Mid Atlantic and New England, it's been anything but ordinary.  And in Massena, NY, home of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, it’s been downright cold.

But when I visited Massena last Friday to see the winter asset maintenance work on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, I was impressed--despite the chilly temperatures, strong winds, and plentiful snow, I didn’t hear one complaint about the weather.

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At FTA, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has become one of our favorite places to talk about. Why? Because in the last 30 years, Dallas has gone from zero miles to the most miles of light rail in operation, anywhere in North America. We can add to that growth the accompanying billions of dollars in economic activity, the tens of thousands of jobs it has created , and the increased property values brought about by expanding transit in North Texas.

So, if a conference I attended last week called "Texans Do Use Transit" seems like a pipe dream, it's not. Texans do use transit. It's a fact--known and measurable. And in addition to using transit to get to jobs, medical services and other destinations, North Texas is using its investment in transit to boost economic growth. Texans don’t just use transit, they thrive on it. And not just in Dallas; transit expansion is also happening right now in San Antonio, El Paso, Brownsville, and Houston...

Photo of DART transit work

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Increasing the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in the transportation industry invites diverse backgrounds and new approaches that can help contractors build better projects. And we've been working hard to help those businesses break through the extra barriers they may face.

If you read yesterday's blog post on the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge between Illinois and Missouri, then you know we've had some success. Because in his post, Secretary Foxx emphasized the success of the 117 different Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (or DBEs) that earned contracts totaling $114 million on that project, including one DBE that helped save $1 million in total project costs.

We think that outcome is something to celebrate. But we know that our work is far from finished. And that's why today we are taking a key step toward increasing the effectiveness of DOT's DBE program by consolidating the various threads of that program under a single coordinating office. It might sound like a small change, but it makes a big difference to the DBEs interested in working on DOT-funded projects.

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When people talk about transportation research, they talk about possibilities, not certainties. The conversation about research is framed in years--even decades--the only certainty is that research and development is a long-term investment.

But when we invest in a rail safety research program like the one at the University of Texas Pan-American, we're investing in a program that will pay dividends for the nation now as well as in the years ahead. So when I helped cut the ribbon yesterday on UTPA's University Transportation Center for Rail Safety, I did so with high expectations...

Web banner from the U.T.P.A. rail safety program

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On Saturday, I helped cut the ribbon on a new bridge in St. Louis that spans the Mississippi River. It’s called the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge--named in honor of our nation's heroes and after one of the Midwest’s greatest sports legends--and with good reason.

Photo of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri

Early in his career, Stan Musial was a pitcher who’d injured his throwing arm. And, as legend has it, the St. Louis Cardinals were going to release him until the team’s legendary GM, Branch Rickey heard about it.

“Don’t let him go,” Rickey said, “Put him in the outfield, and let’s see if he can hit.”

Twenty-two seasons and more than 3,600 hits later, Branch Rickey had his answer. Stan “The Man” Musial could hit.

In no small measure, what Rickey did for Stan Musial gets at the heart of what this new bridge will do for the people, and the companies, of the St. Louis area: It gives them a chance to succeed...

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Today could be the day your dreams take flight. For the next two weeks, the Federal Aviation Administration is accepting applications for new Air Traffic Controllers for positions across the United States.

A career in this field is more than just a paycheck. It's a chance to save lives through proactive approaches to aviation safety, to reduce aircraft exhaust emissions, and help bolster our economy by enabling more cost-effective air travel.

It's also an exciting time to join the FAA. The next generation of aviation innovation is happening now as we shift to smarter, satellite-based, digital technologies to manage our national airspace. We're making America's flying experience more convenient, more predictable, and safer than ever...

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of riding Amtrak from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia with the president of the Amtrak Fan Club. Of course, that title is unofficial and it comes with very few responsibilities because Amtrak's number one fan, Joe Biden, is already very busy as our nation's Vice President.

As Vice President Biden knows, it’s a good time to be in the Amtrak fan club. And it's not just because Amtrak has broken ridership record for ten of the past eleven years, reaching nearly 32 million riders in 2013.

It's because yesterday in Philadelphia--thanks to DOT support--Amtrak put into service the largest fleet of new electric locomotives built in the United States since World War II.

Photo of V.P. Biden and Secretary Foxx in the cab of the new Amtrak locomotive; photo courtesy Phildelphia Inquirer, Tom Gralish
Photo courtesy Philadelphia Inquirer, Tom Gralish
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Three weeks ago, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) held a three-day National Maritime Strategy Symposium, where more than 200 maritime stakeholders came together to discuss and respond to the issues our industry faces.

To build on that initial effort, MARAD is engaging regional leaders in all segments of the industry, and this week's Great Lakes Waterways Conference in Cleveland was a terrific opportunity to have a conversation with some of those leaders. Who better to inform the Maritime Administration about current waterborne commerce conditions, issues, and productive maritime strategies on the Great Lakes than the educated and experienced individuals from Great Lakes ports, ship operators, shippers, and shipbuilding and repair as well as other maritime stakeholders?

Photo of American Integrity courtesy Roger LeLievre, boatnerd.com

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Yesterday, I was proud to represent DOT at an infrastructure conference, "America on the Move," hosted by Bloomberg Government (BGOV) and Building America's Future. It was my pleasure to join such other advocates for faster, stronger, and safer American transportation as U.S. Representative Bill Shuster, Chair of the House Transportation Committee; former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and my dear colleague--and former boss--former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. I was there to share the priorities of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, an equally staunch champion of improving the way we move our nation forward.

The most compelling thing I noticed at yesterday's meeting of the transportation minds was something that has been increasingly rare here in Washington, DC: general agreement. That's right; from both sides of the aisle, from the public and private sector, there is a strong consensus: America’s infrastructure deficit is real, and it’s growing...

Photo of Acting Deputy Secretary Mendez speaking at the conference

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