When is a train station not just a train station? Ask the people who gathered Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking for the third and final phase of the Niagara Falls International Railway Station and Intermodal Transportation Center, and you could get a wide range of answers:
When it represents a wide range of partners coming together and cooperating to get a needed project off the ground. When it increases the transportation options available to local residents as well as international tourists. When it stimulates economic development. And when it also houses U.S. Customs operations for the Department of Homeland Security as well as a museum celebrating the rich history of the Underground Railroad.
And they would all be correct. In addition to the Customs inspection center and the Underground Railroad museum, the new station will offer a more convenient downtown location, upgraded tracks and signals, dedicated passenger rail siding to eliminate conflicts with freight traffic, and improved passenger rail platforms. The LEED Silver passenger rail terminal building will also accommodate multi-modal operations like bus, taxi, and park-and-ride services, making it a true transportation hub for the region...
Many Fast Lane readers know that I’m from local government. Before becoming Transportation Secretary, I was mayor of Charlotte and the head of our Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). And while I don’t hold those titles anymore, the old saw is still true: you can take the man out of local government, but you can’t take the local government out of the man.
As much as anything, I remember the competing interests, the complex web of issues and personalities that you have to navigate just to build a mile of road. I can’t remember who said “all politics is local,” but it could easily have been someone working for an MPO.
So when I spoke at the National Association of Regional Councils' annual conference in Louisville yesterday, it felt a little like a homecoming for me...
Growing up, if I wanted to play catch, I often had to play it alone. Sometimes I'd even aim at a tree for lack of a person with a glove at the other end of the yard. I admit, the tree wasn't a very good replacement. But when you're a kid -- and you don't have a dad to play catch with -- you'll toss a ball at anything.
In this respect, I'm probably not unique. Far too many children grow up without a dad in their lives, like I did. And for many, the effects cut deeper and last longer than being forced to have a one-way game of catch.
One of my greatest challenges, having never grown up with a father myself, is figuring out what a dad is supposed to do. I got the memo about taking out the garbage. But when it comes to preparing your kids for the slings and arrows of life, that's something I've only learned about fairly recently.
And here's the key: I only learned about it because I was able to make the time...
When I go to Capitol Hill, too many Congressmen tell me they aren’t hearing from their constituents on infrastructure issues. I then ask, “But are they calling about losing their jobs? Or not being able to make ends meet?”
The Congressmen always reply, “Of course.”
But these issues are not mutually exclusive. Federal funding for roads, bridges, and transit is set to go over a cliff by the end of August. If it does, projects will stop, jobs will be lost, prices will go up, and public safety will be jeopardized.
This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers launched FixTheTrustFund.org—a new grassroots campaign for families and business, giving them the tools they need to motivate Congress and find a sustainable, long-term funding solution to America’s transportation funding crisis...
Every life lost on America’s highways is a tragedy that causes immeasurable pain to the families and loved ones of the person who died. Our work at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—making vehicles and drivers safer—is about sparing Americans such terrible heartache.
Fatalities and injuries aren’t the only costs involved in vehicle crashes; there are also enormous economic and societal costs to take into account.
According to a study we released last week, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010, motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $871 billion in economic loss and harm every year. This includes $277 billion in economic costs –that’s nearly $900 for each person living in the United States based on calendar year 2010 data– and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries...
I was honored to join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House today to announce Local Foods, Local Places, an Obama Administration initiative to help communities improve access to fresh, local produce--particularly among disadvantaged groups who lack such access. Investing in regional food economies is an investment in rural America, and DOT couldn't be prouder to take part.
Farmers are some the most self-reliant, self-sufficient people I’ve met in this country. But for all that farmers and farm communities can do on their own –and they can do a lot– we also know there are challenges that require more help. And one of those challenges is making sure that farms have access to good transportation.
As JFK explained the economic challenges that rural communities face, saying that, “the farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything retail, sells everything wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”
Although JFK said it 54 years ago, it’s still true: freight is a huge concern for rural communities. Transportation determines whether the crop gets to market, and the cost of transportation often determines whether it’s profitable there.
As more Americans commute without a car, the Department of Transportation is working hard to help get them where they need to go. For most transit commuters, bus or rail make the most sense, but in many communities, ferry service plays an important role. And larger ferries, capable of carrying vehicles, can even help folks who drive get across waterways to their destination.
That's why Congress authorized the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) MAP-21 Passenger Ferry Grant Program and the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Ferry Boat and Ferry Terminals Facilities Program. And last week, the FTA and FHWA announced the award and distribution of approximately $123.5 million for passenger ferry projects and ferry operators across the country.
But if our surface transportation funding expires or the Highway Trust Fund runs out, America's ferries could be left high and dry. That's why, as Secretary Foxx said, “We need Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill so we can continue to invest in ferry boat services that provide ladders of opportunity for hard-working families.”
Hurricanes and tropical storms present serious threats to life and property. They can also cause wide-spread disruptions to transportation services.
Every year around the start of hurricane season, employees at airports and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities across the nation review and update contingency plans, evacuation routes, and safety procedures to prepare for severe weather. We can’t predict how a hurricane or tropical storm will affect the status of airports and facilities, but we can minimize disruptions by preparing in advance.
When it comes to our national airspace system, the FAA’s goal is to restore operations as soon as the weather allows, while always keeping safety at the forefront of our efforts...
When those who served our nation return home, we owe them a fair shake along with our gratitude. Events like yesterday’s Military 2 Maritime information and recruiting session, hosted by the American Maritime Partnership in Jacksonville, Florida, help steer our veterans toward the opportunities available in the maritime industry.
We at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) are proud to be associated with an industry that doesn't just open its doors to America's veterans, but actively helps them navigate the transition to civilian careers. Through licensing and certification information, support for maritime academies, and our work with stakeholders, MARAD is actively engaged in making this transition easier...
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Siemens Rail Automation plant in Louisville, Kentucky, and seeing first-hand how investments in rail infrastructure are creating jobs and improving safety.
At the plant in Louisville, there are 26 new, good-paying jobs in engineering, manufacturing, and assembling train control systems and Positive Train Control (PTC) components. Nationwide, Siemens has added nearly 100 new jobs –including highly sought after engineers, analysts, and other skilled manufacturing employees.
Troy Martin, Plant Manager, FRA Administrator Szabo, and Kevin Riddett, CEO Siemens Freight & Products, Rail Automation. Photos courtesy Siemens.
PTC is the backbone of the next generation of rail safety, and these employees--as well as others like them--are at the forefront of developing this sophisticated technology that can avert accidents and save lives by slowing or stopping a train...