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Broadway in New York City is one of the most famous streets in America, but not so long ago, it was famous to New Yorkers mostly for congestion. The street cuts diagonally across the island of Manhattan, slicing through Midtown and connecting iconic locations like Times Square and Herald Square. But the complex intersections created by its angled path made it hard to get people and vehicles through Midtown, and at places like Times Square, Broadway was a mass of honking cars and crowded sidewalks that didn’t serve any users, in cars or on foot, well.

Earlier this week, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and her staff showed me how New York has dramatically transformed Broadway. The “Greenlight for Midtown” project, launched in 2009, started with what might have seemed a counter-intuitive notion: To improve traffic on Broadway, let’s close the street to cars. Two stretches of Broadway, from 42nd to 47th streets and 33rd to 35th, were turned into pedestrian plazas. Traffic signal timing was adjusted, new bicycle lanes and a parking facility went in. In 2010, the city decided to make the changes permanent. Today, construction crews are finishing necessary work at street level and below. The city funded the project with assistance from the federal Department of Transportation.

NHTSA Administrator Rosekind in Times Square
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo discussing pedestrian safety in Times Square.

Of course, at NHTSA, our focus is safety, and for safety, the gains have been remarkable. In the three years after the change, total crashes in the affected area fell by 15 percent. Pedestrian injuries fell by 24 percent. Injuries for all users – motorists, pedestrians and cyclists – are down by 33 percent in Times Square and 26 percent in Herald Square.

Continue Reading Friendlier Broadway paves ››
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Today, with the swoop of two pens, India and America took a bold step towards a future where all forms of transportation – roads, rails, ports, airports – work together seamlessly.

This morning, I signed a Memorandum of Cooperation – or MOC – with India’s Minister of Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari. The Minister signed on behalf of three other ministries, and the memorandum outlines ways all of those agencies cooperate to strengthen India’s transportation system.

 US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and India’s Minister of Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping Nitin Gadkari sign MOC

Both India and America face shared challenges when it comes to the future of transportation: more people to move; more freight to carry; a climate where bigger, deadlier storms occur more often. And while we do not yet know exactly HOW we can overcome all these challenges, we understand that any solution must be guided by the same general principle: multi-modalism.

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It’s in everyone’s best interest for us to have a great transportation system. It’s how we get around, and how our goods get from place to place.

Yet our transportation infrastructure is in very poor shape. More than half of our roads are rated in less than good condition, a quarter of our bridges languish in the same category, and public transportation is falling behind. The last time the Federal Transit Administration tallied up the backlog in transit repairs and maintenance, it came to over $86 billion. And it’s growing.

Many people long for more and better public transit options to get to work, school or the doctor, while those fortunate enough to have transit access can all relate stories about service disruptions. That’s to say nothing about future transit users. In the next 30 years, the U.S. will be home to 70 million more people. To keep America moving, we will need a strong, reliable public transit system.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillian at stand up for transportation press conference

I was invited, along with federal, state and local officials, to attend today’s Stand Up for Transportation rally in Philadelphia to talk about some of these challenges and potential solutions. SU4T rallies were held in dozens of cities across America in a daylong show of support for transportation. We spoke before hundreds of transportation supporters and interested citizens who stood up outside historic City Hall at Dilworth Park, a public square and transit center renovated partially with DOT funds, to demonstrate their commitment to our efforts to climb out of our infrastructure hole.

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This Department's top priority is to protect the safety of Americans – as best we can – no matter where or how they travel. For Americans considering overseas travel, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operates an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program to evaluate foreign air carriers.
 
And today, I'm pleased to announce that the FAA's IASA program has granted India its highest rating – Category 1.
 
That means our IASA officials have determined that India complies with the safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. The Category 1 rating permits India’s air carriers to add flights to the United States using their own aircraft and to code-share with U.S. carriers on their operations.
 
Photo of Secretary Foxx announcing that the FAA's IASA program has granted India its highest rating – Category 1
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To be safe drivers, we are taught to buckle up, adjust our mirrors, and scan the area before we pull out. But there is another behavior that people think is “safe,” which actually puts drivers, their passengers, and everyone on the road at risk.

According to a 2014 poll, 8 out of every 10 drivers --like the mom in this new video from the National Safety Council-- honestly believe they are making a safe choice by using a hands-free application for their phone while driving. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

More than 30 studies show hands-free devices do not make drivers any safer because --even hands-free-- your brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation...

Continue Reading This April, spread the word ››
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For nearly ten years, our Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has been reminding you to “Call 8-1-1 before you dig,” and we are not stopping now.

With spring upon most of us, the shovels and post-hole diggers are coming out of garages and sheds across America. But, before you or your contractors break ground to install that fence or dig a new pool, make sure to call the 8-1-1 national hotline to get those buried utility lines safely marked for free.  

And, as DOT promotes April each year as National Safe Digging Month, we’re also proud to announce that this April, we’re awarding more than $1 million in grants to protect communities from digging accidents...

Call 8-1-1 banner

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As predicted the month of March came in like a lion. But for DOT's TIFIA program, it did not go out like a lamb. Late in the month, on March 25, Secretary Foxx announced a TIFIA loan for approximately $194 million to help pay for the construction of the Wekiva Parkway in Orlando. And a week later, he announced a loan for up to $209.3 million to finance the Portsmouth Bypass in Scioto County, Ohio.

DOT's support for these two projects shows a program that stands ready to fill market gaps with supplemental credit so state and local governments, transit agencies, railroad companies, special authorities, special districts, and private entities can get back to the business of building America.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) extends loans and credit that projects can then leverage to attract more financing. It's a multiplier so powerful that each dollar of federal funds can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment.

And in a world of diminished transportation funding, the most recent projects in Orlando and Ohio show that TIFIA can help move projects forward...

Orlando area traffic
 
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I’m pretty excited about the productive week we've had here at DOT, and I'd like to share that sense of achievement and --more importantly-- promise with Fast Lane readers.

On Monday, we jumped out of the gate by sending a revamped GROW AMERICA Act to Congress. GROW is our legislative proposal for surface transportation that provides six years of funding certainty, increased investment in infrastructure, and smart policies that ensure taxpayers get more bang for their buck and that communities can enjoy the benefits of projects sooner. Experts all agree that America's transportation system needs more than a few potholes filled and bridges repaired. But we also need to start getting ahead of the curve like the world leader we have been since George Washington began supervising construction of a canal along the Potomac River. And GROW will help us do that.

In fact, all of this week's highlights point back to the GROW AMERICA Act...

Continue Reading A good week to GROW on ››
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Today, it is my absolute pleasure to announce the availability of $500 million for DOT's 2015 TIGER grants for innovative transportation projects across the country. 

Over the past six rounds, funds from our Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program have helped launch projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico --many of which would still be on the drawing board without TIGER. The highly competitive program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for multi-modal projects that often are not suitable for other federal funding sources.

Like its preceding rounds, this seventh round of TIGER will fund projects that create jobs, foster regional partnerships, advance new technologies, spur economic and community development, and strengthen the transportation infrastructure of this great country...

I-20 bridge over Mississippi

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As Fast Lane readers know, texting offers the benefit of almost instant communication with nearly anyone around the world. But in the time it takes to send or read a text –slightly less than five seconds– a car moving at 55 miles per hour can travel roughly 100 yards. So if you text when behind the wheel, you’re essentially driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed —and possibly causing untold harm to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and yourself.

In 2013 alone, distracted driving claimed 3,154 lives and injured an estimated 424,000. Those deaths and injuries were 100 percent preventable.

That’s why, as part of April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ve launched our second distracted driving high-visibility enforcement campaign. Thanks to nationwide support from law enforcement agencies, from April 10 to April 15, state and local officers will aggressively ticket drivers who are texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel...

Secretary Foxx at Distraction event

Continue Reading ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’ ››
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