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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

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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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As we celebrate Independence Day this week, here at DOT we've been thinking a lot about the military veterans who have defended --since Lexington and Concord-- the independence we hold so dear. 

So we're happy to announce that, since 2011, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) program has helped more than 10,000 veterans and active duty personnel obtain a Commercial Driver's License more easily...

Military truck convoy

Continue Reading Veterans taking to CDLs in ››
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The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has the utmost faith in America's newest mariners, in large part because graduates from our nation's maritime academies have already tested and proven their skills on training cruises. Often, they are presented with the opportunity to help others in need or in peril on the sea, and this year has been no exception.

Last month, Cadets from California Maritime Academy were onboard the T/S GOLDEN BEAR, completing a training cruise off the coast of Spain. Upon receiving a distress call from a small group of Algerian men, the Cadets immediately came to the ailing group’s rescue providing food, water, supplies and support until Spanish authorities arrived on site.

And also last month, Cadets from Maine Maritime Academy were in the final stage of their training cruise aboard the T/S STATE OF MAINE.  The ship was in the North Atlantic, near Nova Scotia, when the U.S. Coast Guard sent word of an imperiled sailboat that had been battered by storms and was taking on water. The‎ C‎adets were roughly 30 nautical miles away from the damaged vessel and they quickly altered their course to intercept the stricken vessel, safely rescuing its sole passenger...

Rescue composite
Cal Maritime assist (left) and Maine maritime rescue (right)
Continue Reading American Mariners to the ››
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Yesterday, the Obama Administration invited communities to participate in the second round of Local Foods, Local Places, an initiative to build strong local food systems as part of strong local economies in rural communities.

Local Foods, Local Places provides direct technical support --agricultural, transportation, public health, environmental, and economic-- to local communities to help spur economic growth and improve the quality of life for all residents. 

At DOT, we support this initiative by working to ensure that local roads and transit services connect farmers, food businesses, markets, and residents...

Truck on rural bridge

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In Buffalo, New York, a community health clinic is testing the idea of placing a personal “travel navigator” in the obstetrician’s office to help pregnant women develop individualized travel plans to ensure they don’t miss pre-natal appointments.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, healthcare providers plan to experiment with a web-based app that searches for the quickest available public transportation when they schedule patient appointments, hoping to reduce no-shows.

And in southern Illinois, healthcare providers designed an experimental system to identify patients at risk for readmission to the hospital and connect them with a mobility manager to schedule transportation to medical appointments. It’s part of a strategy to keep them healthy and out of the hospital...

CTA Bus stop
Continue Reading Creative Ways to Make that ››
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U.S. metropolitan areas generate 90 percent of the nation's GDP, house nearly 85 percent of the population, and move 70 percent of freight value traded across the country. And, our cities are only expected to grow even more, absorbing an estimated 66 million more people in the next 30 years. That projected population growth means even more pressure on our aging transportation infrastructure. And that challenge keeps more than a few of America's mayors awake at night.

As Secretary Foxx has said before, mayors work at the ground level, where the rubber literally meets the road.

When the residents of our cities can't get where they need to go without crossing a structurally deficient bridge, that's a problem mayors need to solve.  When businesses can't get access to the deliveries, markets, customers, or employees they need to grow, that's a problem mayors need to solve.

But, when city planners and departments of transportation work to solve those problems and can't see beyond the next 2-month extension of federal transportation funding, that's a problem Congress needs to solve.  And when federal funding has remained essentially stagnant since 2009, struggling to keep up with minimal maintenance requirements, that is a problem Congress needs to solve.

Continue Reading U.S. Mayors call on ››
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Independence Day is certainly an occasion for celebration in the United States.  However, as you prepare to travel by air this Fourth of July holiday, keep safety in mind and leave your fireworks at home.

DOT’s top priority for the flying public is for them to arrive at their destinations safely.  You can help us by leaving dangerous items, such as fireworks, out of your luggage...

Fireworks Don't Fly

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Can one of the nation’s newest, fastest-moving industries help to solve one of transportation’s oldest problems? At the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), we think the answer is yes. That is why today, we are proud to announce that Google has agreed to partner with us to make rail crossings safer for drivers and their passengers. 

Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s GIS data, which pinpoints the location of the nation's approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services. Adding railroad crossing data to smartphone mapping applications just makes sense - it means supplying drivers and passengers with additional cues that they are approaching a crossing. For drivers and passengers who are driving an unfamiliar route, traveling at night, or who lose situational awareness at any given moment, receiving an additional alert about an upcoming crossing could save lives. 

Image of smartphones with railway crossings on maps

Continue Reading Google, FRA team up for ››
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