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Last July, President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, an Administration-wide effort aimed at boosting private investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  And on Friday, Vice President Biden announced new steps that federal agencies are taking to bring private sector capital and expertise to bear on improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband networks. 

You can read more about Friday’s announcement here.  These actions and announcements are the first steps that the Administration is taking as part of the Build America Investment Initiative’s two-year action plan.

These steps highlight important progress within DOT. When the President announced this initiative last July, he also called on this Department to launch the Build America Transportation Investment Center.  And over the past six months, DOT, the Department of Treasury, and more than a dozen other federal agencies have worked to stand up this crucial team, which serves as a one-stop shop for investors seeking innovative financing strategies for infrastructure projects. The Center focuses on facilitating access to USDOT credit programs and helping project sponsors improve project development and delivery. After all, the more projects can move toward completion, the better we can address the Nation’s growing infrastructure deficit...

Photo of highway bridge construction work

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Today, DOT fined Southwest Airlines $1.6 million for violating rules regarding lengthy tarmac delays and ordered Southwest to cease and desist from further violations. This is the largest civil penalty the Department has assessed for tarmac delay violations.

On January 2, 2014 --and extending into January 3-- Southwest failed to give passengers on 16 different aircraft at Chicago's Midway International Airport an opportunity to deplane within three hours of arrival. The airline also failed to have sufficient staff available to implement its Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan...

Photo of Southwest planes on tarmac at Midway; credit NBC Chicago

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Transportation access and quality are both important measures of the regional “connectedness” that is central to growth and prosperity. Reliable and affordable transportation is an essential ingredient for strong families and equitable, resilient regions.

Achieving equitable growth depends on having nuanced information about who needs to be connected to opportunity throughout a region.   Compelling data revealing who benefits from growth and who pays can help garner support for good, inclusive policy proposals.  Data is ubiquitous, but the right data —broken down by race, ethnicity, and geography— is hard to find.

That task has become a bit easier with the creation of the National Equity Atlas, a dynamic, comprehensive online resource. Produced by PolicyLink and PERE (Program for Environmental and Regional Equity), the Atlas makes it possible to track, measure, and make the case for inclusive growth in America’s regions and states, and nationwide...

Photo of city transit bus

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For automotive enthusiasts, the North American Auto International Show, which began on Monday in Detroit, is an exciting glimpse into the future of performance, styling, and safety.

For NHTSA, it’s our opportunity to visit with industry leaders and reinforce with them our commitment to the safety of the American public and to personally tell auto executives how we will approach our mission of saving lives and preventing injuries...

Photo of Mark Rosekind

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The focus of the Transportation Research Board annual meeting being held this week in Washington, DC, is the future of transportation. That focus was highlighted on Monday when Secretary Foxx previewed DOT's 30-year framework, "Beyond Traffic," a dynamic, stakeholder-informed vision of what our transportation landscape will look like in 2045.

At DOT, we're excited about this framework. We're also excited about the work we're doing right now to make the transportation of tomorrow a reality today. Just ask our Federal Transit Administration.

On the same Monday, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) took a ride on the future of transportation when TARC leaders and guests boarded one of the city's new zero-emission transit buses for its maiden trip. The 10 vehicles in TARC’s American-made, all-electric Zerobus fleet replace the city’s diesel-powered trolleys, TARC's highest polluting vehicles. The new fleet will save TARC money in fuel costs and help cut carbon-monoxide emissions in Louisville...Photo of new ZeroBus in Louisville

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As Fast Lane readers know, safety is the bedrock of everything we do at DOT.  And thanks to our efforts, we’ve made impressive strides in our efforts to keep the American traveling public as safe as possible.

This week at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, I had the great pleasure of a moderating a panel featuring a who's who of DOT leaders: FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, FHWA Acting Administrator Greg Nadeau, PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters, FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling, MARAD Administrator Chip Jaenichen, FRA Chief Council Melissa Porter, and FRA Chief Safety Officer Bob Lauby.

What brought all of these individuals, representing all forms of transportation, together?  An important conversation about safety - the work we're doing as a Department today and the challenges we'll need to tackle in the future...

Photo of Victor Mendez at DOT's TRB safety panel

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The challenges facing transportation in America cannot be dealt with piecemeal.  They’re tightly connected, and they must be managed as a whole. 

For example, we know that populations are shifting and growing now and that 70 million more people will be living in the U.S. in the next 30 years. We know that new technologies like ride-sharing and Unmanned Aerial Systems (you know them as “drones”) are changing the way we travel and how we move freight.

But, we haven’t taken a good look at how one piece affects another. We’re not thinking big enough – or forward enough – to address the issues we’ll need to address if we want to keep our nation moving 30 years from now...

Photo of bridge with congested traffic

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Each year, the Transportation Research Board meeting (TRB) is one of the largest gatherings of transportation professionals and researchers in the world, and this year's TRB is no exception. With more than 12,000 participants, 5,000 presentations, and 750 different sessions, it's kind of a big deal for the Department, the industry, and for all Americans who depend on a safe and reliable transportation network. You're likely to see more than one blog post here in the Fast Lane on TRB-related topics this week. I'm pleased to kick-off our TRB coverage by discussing the importance of more effective bike-ped counts.

To ensure that a community's bicyclists and pedestrians have safe, useful routes for their travel, we need accurate estimates of how many people are walking and bicycling in that community. Those counts help guide and support traffic management, usage forecasts, safety studies, and general non-motorized planning and policy.

So, if we want non-motorized transportation incorporated effectively into transportation policy and performance management --and many Americans have indicated that they do-- we need better bicycle and pedestrian data programs. That's why the bike-ped data community gathered yesterday at TRB to share case studies, tools, and best practices that can lead to better counts...and better transportation...

Photo of pedestrians in crosswalk

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Construction on America’s first high-speed rail system is underway.

On Tuesday in Fresno, California, I joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congressman Jim Costa, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) Chairman Dan Richard, and others to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the high-speed rail system that will connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.

It was an historic moment and one that I am honored to have been a part of.  This project has been a long time in the making, but emerged from the planning phase in 2009, when President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, providing $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects.  From this and additional funds, $3.4 billion was invested in California High-Speed Rail....

Photo of guests signing the first rail at high speed rail track laying

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Over the past decade, highway fatalities have declined by nearly 25 percent, with the latest data showing a drop of 3.1 percent in 2013 from the previous year. While that is a remarkable success story, we have much more work to do. So my intention as NHTSA Administrator is to build on this record by strengthening what works and fixing what doesn’t.

And one thing that doesn't work is when industry fails to live up to its safety responsibilities by not disclosing critical safety information as required by law.

That’s why yesterday we announced two distinct $35 million civil penalties, totaling $70 million, assessed to Honda for failing to report deaths and injuries and failing to report certain warranty claims...

Photo of Honda assembly plant in U.S.

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