Today, I want to share news of a big change at DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration: as part of the Omnibus bill President Obama signed into law earlier this month, RITA was elevated into the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.
While our name has changed, our mission remains the same. And now that we have been integrated into what we at DOT call OST--the Office of the Secretary of Transportation--we hope to have even more opportunities to collaborate with all modes of transportation on research, innovation, and technology.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama said that, " The best measure of opportunity is access to a good job," and at the Department of Transportation, we couldn't agree more strongly.
That's why we work around the clock and through the calendar to ensure that American transportation connects people and communities more safely, reliably, and conveniently every day. Because we know that every minute you're stuck in highway traffic is a minute you can't be with your family after work, and every bus that is out of service for maintenance on your transit route is a challenge to your ability to get to work on time.
This week, two innovative examples of how we're working to keep the American people connected to opportunity went into service, and we're proud to share them with you. Austin, Texas, celebrated the grand opening of the first of two new MetroRapid bus rapid transit (BRT) lines. And in Mississippi, the new Choctaw Regional Maintenance Facility for transit vehicles opened its doors. Both projects connect their communities to opportunity by improving residents' access to jobs, and both projects were funded in part by our Federal Transit Administration.
Today, the Obama Administration is hosting the first-ever virtual "Big Block of Cheese Day," during which dozens of White House officials will take to social media for a day long 'open house' to answer your questions in real-time.
And we're happy to announce that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will participate with a Twitter townhall on "Rebuilding America's Infrastructure" from 4:30 to 5:00 pm (ET).
As a former mayor, Secretary Foxx knows transportation from the most local level of serving citizens and connecting communities all the way to the national level of innovative financing and freight policy. So, if you're interested in transportation, opportunity, and moving America forward, @SecretaryFoxx is the place to be.
That's today, from 4:30 to 5:00 pm. And you can start asking questions now using the hashtag #AsktheWH.
It's only a short time from now, so tell your friends, your family, and your fellow commuters to join us online today!
Last night, I had the privilege of sitting in the well of the House of Representatives and listening to President Obama deliver his State of the Union address to the nation.
Depending on the channel you were watching, you may have even seen me applauding when the President struck the theme of opportunity–and applauding extra hard when he later talked about the opportunities created by transportation. The road to opportunity can take many forms as the President told us; it can be quality pre-school for young children, or it can be access to health care for those with pre-conditions.
But, as President Obama also reminded us last night, sometimes the road to opportunity can literally be a road. Or, for that matter, it can be a transit system that connects a community to new jobs or a port that helps businesses sell to more markets. All of these types of transportation can be what the President calls “ladders of opportunity,” ways for all Americans to connect to a better quality of life.
If you’ve been thinking about this evening as just another Tuesday night, we wholeheartedly encourage you to reconsider.
Because tonight is “State of the Union night,” a night when the President of the United States gathers both houses of Congress, his Cabinet, and an audience of millions of Americans to share his view of where the nation stands today, where we can go in the future, and how we can get there.
For those of us at DOT, it means an opportunity to hear the President assert his priorities for the coming year. So, many of us are looking forward to tuning in tonight and hearing what President Obama has to say. And if you have an interest in transportation, we encourage you to tune in as well.
As Director of the DOT Office of Civil Rights (DOCR), it is my honor to help mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 20th Anniversary of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice. The Civil Rights Act and the Executive Order are not ideas lost to history, only to be remembered with the passing of significant milestone anniversaries. Nor are they noteworthy only to Civil Rights professionals.
Every day, here at the DOCR, we work to ensure that all Americans benefit from a transportation system that is fair and just.
And next week, we’ll host a Virtual Civil Rights Symposium to discuss the best ways to help make that happen...
In 1959, if you happened to be driving in San Bernardino, California, a new freeway there could have provided you with a modern transportation route. Unfortunately, it also kept one part of town separated from the other.
But not anymore.
Last week, I traveled to California and joined officials from Caltrans, the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) and the City of San Bernardino at a ribbon-cutting for the I-215 widening project. This was a big undertaking and a special endeavor for a lot of reasons.
Since Hurricane Sandy made landfall nearly 15 months ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation has worked alongside the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help the nation’s busiest transit network recover as quickly as possible. On Friday we continued that work with a grant of $886 million to help the MTA continue rebuilding and replacing transportation equipment and facilities damaged or destroyed by the storm.
The funds we are providing will go a long way to help the MTA continue clearing debris from tunnels, rebuilding stations, and replacing electrical systems damaged by flooding. We're working to give transit riders a system that will be stronger than ever before...
After numerous pipeline failures on Enbridge hazardous liquid pipelines in the Great Lakes region, including those in Marshall, Michigan, and Grand Marsh, Wisconsin, the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) required Enbridge to take a hard look at its pipeline system and deliver a comprehensive safety plan for the entire region. To date, major work is underway on pipelines 6B and 14, two pipelines that had previously failed, but there is more work to be done throughout the system.
Here's how the comprehensive safety initiative is being implemented...
In the 1960s, public transit was in critical condition. The way people travelled and where they lived had changed; transit systems nationwide were facing declining ridership and an inability to adapt on their own. But in 1964, a new law was enacted that would change all that by providing federal support to strengthen transit. It paved the way for the later creation of a small federal agency that, over the decades, would create a partnership with state and local governments to stabilize transit and finally lead it to a full recovery. Thanks to the work of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) – later renamed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – the demand for transit is growing and ridership is on track to exceed 10 billion trips annually for the seventh year in a row.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of moderating a panel at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act. The panel was made up of each of the living, Senate-confirmed UMTA and FTA administrators, save one. And even the one absentee sent in written remarks that I shared as part of the discussion. It was a great privilege to share the dais with so many of my capable and accomplished predecessors.