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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,

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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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From office equipment and furniture, to single-family homes, the U.S. Government periodically auctions property it no longer needs. In doing so, it makes money from aging Federal assets that can be used to better serve the American people. So what does the Government do with a 450-ft long, 10,000 ton, federally-owned, commercial ship that has reached the end of its operational life? How do you ensure that a vessel that is longer than a football field is disposed of in an environmentally responsible way that also benefits our nation?

The answer is, "You recycle it.”  And since 2001, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has worked with domestic steel recyclers to turn more than 200 obsolete ships into steel that can be used again. Valuable metals can also be reclaimed, and oils onboard can be recycled.

Photo of Ready Reserve Fleet

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Last week, in his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke about creating “ladders of opportunity,” ways to connect all Americans, and especially those reaching for the middle class, with a better life.

Two of those “ladders” are being built right now in Florida. And on Friday, I traveled to the Sunshine State to visit them.

Photo of Secretary Foxx aboard Lynx

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Communication is a key ingredient for success: in business, in personal relationships, and even in sports—as we saw in last night’s Super Bowl. Soon, it will also become an essential factor in automotive safety due to a technology known as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications.

Rendering of a vehicle braking abruptly and sending a signal to vehicles behind it via V-2-V technology

V2V allows cars to “talk” to one another—exchanging basic safety-relevant data, such as speed, direction, and relative position—10 times per second. When cars share this information at such a fast rate, they can "see" all of the vehicles around them, sense the possibility of a crash, and warn drivers to avoid the crash.

Today, I was proud to announce another big step in V2V: After years of research and unprecedented coordination between industry and across government, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is announcing its decision to begin taking the next steps toward implementing V2V technology in all new cars and trucks...

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In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama said that we need to help upgrade America's transportation system because, "in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure."

It's no coincidence that the President explicitly included our nation's ports in the list of resources we need to revitalize to ensure "opportunity for all." Because our ports are truly opportunity multipliers. In addition to the direct employment America's ports sustain managing the critical economic activity of moving freight to and from ships, our ports are economic engines, fueling good jobs--not just on our coasts, but across the country--from manufacturing jobs on land to skilled crew at sea...

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Video Capture of Secretary Foxx congratulating President Obama after the State of the Union address

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.

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