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Last Thursday, I wrote here in the Fast Lane, that --because the current transportation law is due to expire on July 31-- we would have to suspend all reimbursements to States for road, bridge, and transit work on August 1, unless Congress acts in the 17 days before the law expires.

I also noted that, because the trust fund's highway account is rapidly running out of money, an extension of transportation authority won't buy us much time at all because we will have to implement cash management protocols next month. Again, unless Congress adds new revenue.

This morning, we sent letters to the 50 State DOTs, 5 Territorial DOTs, and the Washington, DC, DOT advising them of those impending measures...

Image of letter to Alabama DOT

Continue Reading Letter advises State DOTs ››
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This year marks the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare.  But rather than looking backward, the 2015 White House Conference on Aging being held today has been examining the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans in future decades.

Because the White House conference was such a packed house, DOT is joining the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in hosting a watch party for the many Federal agencies whose missions include helping older Americans.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan speaks at DOT watch party
Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan speaks on transportation and an aging population.

Every day, nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65.  By 2045, the number of Americans over age 65 will have increased by 77 percent.  That is no small drop in the demographic bucket; it is a seismic shift and one that has our full attention...

Continue Reading Thoughts on transportation ››
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The Connect Historic Boston project got its official start last Friday with a groundbreaking that included DOT's Undersecretary for Policy Peter Rogoff and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The public ceremony had a much longer guest list, however, because Connect Historic Boston would not be possible without the collaboration of the Federal Highway Administration, the Massachusetts DOT, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Boston's Public Works Department, the National Park Service, and many others groups.  That long list of partners --and the improvements the project will make to America's oldest functioning street network-- helps make it exactly the kind of innovative undertaking that DOT's TIGER grant program was designed to support.

Which is why our $15.5 million TIGER award is making possible this $23 million effort to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to downtown Boston and its treasure of American history...

Connect Historic Boston graphic showing the various modal connections C.H.B. will allow

Continue Reading Connect Historic Boston ››
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If America's small businesses are the engines of job creation, then the Federal government has been providing those engines a good supply of fuel.  This year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has given another “A” rating to the federal government for awarding almost 25 percent of its contracts to small businesses.

Here at DOT, we've made supporting small and disadvantaged businesses a top priority.  So it's no surprise that --in conjunction with Secretary Foxx’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative-- DOT alone awarded almost double the federal average in Fiscal Year 2014.  For the year, almost 45 percent of our procurement contracts went to small businesses. 

DOT's OSDBU team in a group photo
DOT's OSDBU team

DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) was instrumental in this achievement by providing a range of support to help small businesses compete for these contracts...

Continue Reading Federal Government, DOT ››
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In June, we published graphs showing past balances and projected balances for the two Highway Trust Fund accounts, the Highways Account and the Mass Transit Account.  Those graphs showed the Highways Account balance quickly approaching zero with the Mass Transit Account balance not far behind.

A month later, we've updated the data for both accounts to reflect June's activity.  I'm sorry to report that the situation has not really changed, and both accounts are dwindling fast.  In fact, we're nearing the threshold for the Highways Account where we have to institute cash management procedures...

Chart showing highway account balance hitting 0 by end of F.Y. 2015

Continue Reading DOT updates Highway Trust ››
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Today we released a set of Fact Sheets showing the condition of transportation in all 50 states. It's not a pretty picture.

Data on Massachusetts showing 52% of bridges in need of attention
Grim data from just one of the 50 fact sheets DOT released today.

A nation's infrastructure is its economic backbone. And you don't need a history book to know that a big part of America's success has long been our willingness to invest in our transportation system. In return, our ability to get supplies to manufacturers, goods to market, and people where they need to go has helped us thrive.

But we've been investing in that ability less and less.  And, as our willingness to invest has declined and transportation spending has decreased, it's no coincidence that —more and more—  Americans in every state are experiencing the frustration of poor road conditions and congestion.

Continue Reading We can't cross that ››
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Like most of our Nation’s major urban areas, New York City is experiencing growing pains. The Big Apple’s rising population means surging needs for freight and services, which have made congestion a common reality for the city’s more than 10 million daily commuters.

However, New York has long had a transportation ace in the hole —its geography and access to water.  New York City is positioned on a series of islands right in the middle of New York Harbor, one of the world’s largest natural harbors.  We at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) have always viewed the harbor as a common sense solution to the city’s transportation challenges, whether it’s using ferries to transport people or ships and barges to move freight, and that’s why we've been making moves to help New York fully leverage this asset. 

Floating containers on barges across the harbor has long been a reliable way to move cargo between New York and New Jersey —without adding to the dense traffic on the region's bridges. That’s why back in April, with MARAD's support, Secretary Foxx formally designated a cross-harbor barge service between Port Newark and Brooklyn as an Official American Marine Highway Project...

Chip Jaenichen at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal

Continue Reading Maritime Solutions for the ››
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Congress has a scant 24 days until America's surface transportation law expires and our Highway Trust Fund crosses a dangerously low threshold.  Although the current law wasn't really more than the 34th successive extension of previous law at pretty bare funding levels, even that is approaching a dead end.

If you're a Fast Lane reader, you know where I stand: this Congress should pass a long-term bill so States, regions, counties, and cities can plan more than 2 months ahead. And that bill should significantly increase investment in our Nation's roads, bridges, and transit systems so this country can continue to thrive.

We included those ideas and others --like faster project delivery so people can enjoy the benefits of transportation investments more quickly-- in the GROW AMERICA Act that we sent to Congress last March.  But I keep looking at the calendar and wondering what we have to do to get a proposal like GROW through Congress and to President Obama's desk for his signature.

The good news is, I am hardly alone.  Leaders across the country are adding their voices to this important campaign...

24 days until surface transportation law expires

Continue Reading Plenty of company in ››
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Green Marine CertifiedFast Lane readers will know that we haven't been shy about sharing the environmental benefits of shipping freight by water.  From America's Marine Highways to the first LNG-fueled container ship, we think the relative sustainability advantages of maritime shipping add up to a significant benefit for shippers and the public.  And at the end of May, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation added to the evidence when Green Marine certified the DOT agency's environmental performance.

Green Marine is a voluntary organization certifying environmental stewardship among the North American marine industry.  Participants include shipowners, ports, terminals, and shipyards based in Canada and the United States, as well as the Canadian and U.S. Seaway corporations.  The program encourages participants to reduce their environmental footprint by taking concrete actions in nine different areas.

Continue Reading Seaway's 2014 ››
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To many Americans, a car is more than a machine.  It can be a lifeline to food and medical care or your only access to opportunity like a job or school.  For many of us, our cars are very personal extensions of our lives, filled with reminders of our families, remnants of past trips, and accessories that reflect who we are.

But, by the time you've finished reading these few paragraphs, somewhere in America, another car thief will have taken away another vehicle.  In fact, in the U.S. a motor vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds.

Would you be prepared if it happened to you?  Well, the best preparation is to prevent that theft in the first place, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some tips to help you do just that...

Continue Reading July is National Vehicle ››
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