New technologies are disrupting transportation every day, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has an unprecedented opportunity to shape how Americans move, and how America does business.
That’s no small order, but at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, our history of providing multimodal expertise shows we are up to the task. The Volpe Center is a unique federal organization within USDOT that for more than 45 years has supported modal agencies and others pursuing innovative solutions to America’s most pressing transportation challenges.
This week, we remember the anniversary of a bombing that, just after rush hour on April 19, 1995, claimed 168 lives – including 11 FHWA employees. The bomb of a domestic terrorist destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, causing a pain that – even now – America still feels. I urge you to join me in remembering our fallen colleagues and families of all the victims who have spent the last 22 years in grief. Let us never forget their loss, and let our actions honor their sacrifice.
America’s first responders put their lives on the line every day to help save ours.
In 2016, 135 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. Of the 53 that were killed in traffic-related incidents, 15 were struck and killed while performing their duties outside of their vehicle and on the roadside. In fact, in the 20 years prior to 2016, traffic-related incidents were the No. 1 cause of officer fatalities for 15 of the years. These roadside deaths are 100 percent preventable. It’s up to us to move over to give law enforcement the room they need to work more safely.
At 6:12 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, a fire underneath an Atlanta I-85 bridge was reported to authorities. By 7 p.m. the bridge had collapsed.
Astonishingly, despite this incredible event happening during rush hour to one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, there were no major injuries reported. President Donald Trump and Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao this week credited Atlanta’s first responders with ensuring the public’s safety that day and thanked many of them in person at the White House for their heroic efforts.
Seventy-four tribes were part of a $9 million award this week that will support 77 road safety projects in 22 states. The funds, which come from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'s Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund (TTPSF) are dedicated to improving transportation safety on tribal lands that are statistically some of the most hazardous in the nation because of poor physical condition and other factors. Congress created TTPSF in 2013 in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act to improve highway safety on tribal roads and other transportation facilities.
Today, we commemorate the anniversary of a legendary event in our nation’s history: The Great Locomotive Chase.
The Civil War
On this day in 1862, exactly one year after the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, Union civilian agent James Andrews led a raid deep into Confederate territory to destroy the railroad line between Atlanta and Chattanooga. The Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A) line was targeted because it was a critical lifeline for the western Confederate armies. Just as railroads today serve a vital role in our nation’s transportation network, so did the W&A. Destroying the railroad line would prevent the Confederacy from re-supplying and holding Chattanooga, a strategic location against advancing Union forces.
Every day, millions of people travel by bus throughout the United States. We at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) want to ensure that all of those passengers arrive safely to their destinations and travel safely back home.
FMCSA – along with our federal, state and local partners across the country – is conducting the 2017 National Passenger Safety Initiative. The objectives of this coordinated enforcement effort are to: Remove unsafe buses and drivers from our roadways; improve passenger carrier safety compliance; and increase public awareness of commercial motor vehicle safety.
Drivers know about the dangers of drunk driving and driving without a seat belt. Unfortunately, a relatively new danger has crept into the nation’s driving habits: distracted driving.
In 2015, distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured 391,000.
Transportation becomes even more important when communities are struggling to recover from natural disasters and catastrophic failures. Federal support is often key to getting highways and bridges back up and running again. People often rely on these vital links in order to go about their daily lives. Businesses also need them to move their goods and reach customers.
The $768.2 million provided under the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Emergency Relief (ER) program announced this week has helped restore broken transportation links in 40 state spanning the country from Alaska to Florida, including national parks and forests and other federal lands. These funds can be used to repair damaged roads and bridges that are results of severe weather and other events not related to weather—but that are equally as catastrophic.
As many people know, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao began her career as Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration, which is one reason we were happy she spoke this week at the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) conference.
At the Maritime Administration we share the Secretary’s conviction that a healthy port infrastructure is important to the U.S. economy. Ships, after all, carry $1.5 trillion of U.S. foreign trade, and there are nearly 400,000 jobs associated with the U.S. commercial shipbuilding and repair industry.