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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
After three months of lock upgrades and maintenance, the annual springtime reopening of the St. Lawrence Seaway System to navigation arrives tomorrow.
Here at the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation --and at the Seaway's many ports in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-- we can't wait to see the shipping traffic the 2015 navigation season brings.
And we're not the only ones, either. After all, the freight moving into and out of the U.S. does much more than keep the ports and Seaway employees busy...
I do not know who the Secretary of Transportation will be in the year 2045. But 30 years from now, if that person were to go to Michigan and speak at the Detroit Economic Club –as I did yesterday– he or she might be able to tell the audience:
“Detroit is the new Silicon Valley. You all manufacture a great invention of the 21st century: a car that drives itself. This vehicle has prevented nine out of every ten potential car accidents. No one dies because of drunk driving anymore. And no one has to circle the parking lot again looking for a space. The thing even parks itself, too.”
Of course, our Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices study tells us that autonomous vehicles are just one of the many technologies with the potential to revolutionize our transportation system; we have the chance to build a country where mobility is as cheap and plentiful as fast internet and running water.
And my message to Detroit yesterday was that we can make this vision a reality only if we start thinking about our challenges today...