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It's no secret that freight rail and rail transit services are growing. With transit ridership breaking records year after year and expanded domestic fuel production putting more energy freight on the network, the rail industry in North America just continues to grow. This growing demand for rail services is exactly why the new Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Rail Tech and Engineering Center (RailTEC) is so important.

Last month, I had the pleasure of touring the new lab and helping celebrate its official opening.  There's no question that this world-class facility --funded by DOT's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, the Federal Railroad Administration, railroads, and rail industry suppliers-- underscores RailTEC’s status as a national leader for rail transportation research and innovation.

Group photo from RAIL  ribbon cutting

DOT's University Transportation Centers (UTC) program supports critical transportation research at competitively selected colleges and universities like Illinois around the country. As the lead UTC for rail research, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign works with rail industry leaders and state organizations to ensure that the research and curriculum continue to be relevant and timely...

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Today is September 1, but don't let that fool you. The 114th Congress has another week left in its August recess. What does that mean for Fast Lane readers? There's still time to #ShowUsYourInfraWear!

That's right, our summer vacation campaign to demonstrate how your community would benefit from Federal transportation funding continues on Instagram and on Twitter [external link]--where much to our delight the campaign took on its own momentum.

If you've been following the hashtag for the past 31 days, then you've seen some good snaps of crumbling bridges, damaging pavement, disappearing bike lanes, missing sidewalks, treacherous bus stops, and a host of other symptoms of an America that needs to invest more aggressively in how we move people and freight...

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As summer winds down, Americans will be enjoying family vacations and Labor Day picnics.  Not so for our friends in law enforcement.  They will be working hard to make sure that summer’s final days aren’t filled with the ultimate tragedy for families and communities —alcohol related crash deaths.

From August 21 through September 7, members of more than 10,000 state and local law enforcement agencies will be on the roads as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown on drunk driving.

They will have zero tolerance for drivers caught with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, the legal limit of alcohol concentration found within the bloodstream...

Drive Sober print ad

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2015 Truck Driving ChampionshipsFor four days every August, approximately 450 of the trucking industry’s safest and most skilled drivers -along with more than 50 of law enforcement’s finest truck and bus inspectors- compete in their respective professions in an event that has been held jointly for the past 23 years. Both the National Truck Driving Championships and the North American Inspectors Championship recognize the individual knowledge, skills, and performance integral to highway safety.

And every year, competitors demonstrate that safety is not an impossible dream, but an achievable goal.

At the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, we're focused on reducing the number and the severity of crashes involving large trucks and buses.  While our goal is to make sure unsafe commercial vehicles and drivers are prevented from operating on our roadways, we recognize the majority of motor carriers and their drivers are focused on ensuring that every traveler reaches their destination safely. That was evident again this year at the 2015 championships.

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Cross-posted courtesy of MDOT: you can find the original post at http://ow.ly/MBEPB.

MDOTBiloxi, Miss. – The havoc unleashed by Hurricane Katrina was unlike anything the Mississippi Gulf Coast had ever seen. Bridges destroyed. Communities cut off from each other. Lives changed forever.

With so many communities along the Coast cut off from each other, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recognized the need to quickly identify and provide solutions that would reconnect the people of South Mississippi.

“The response to Katrina’s devastation included more than the repair and replacement of critical roads and bridge infrastructure,” said Transportation Commissioner Tom King. “Residents of the region also needed access to local transportation options that connected them to destinations such as work, health care and disaster assistance centers.”

These options included public, as well as emergency response, shuttle and specialized transit services that not only met immediate needs, but also could be part of the ongoing process of rebuilding the Gulf Coast...

MDOT4

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Sacramento is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the state of California. According to the U.S. Census, the population of California’s capital region grew 4.5 percent between April 2010 and July 2014. Among counties with the largest number of workers, Sacramento also boasts the highest rate of job growth between 2012 and 2013 (up 5.5 percent to 428,475). And while the capital region deservedly celebrates its growth, regional leaders know that more residents and more commuters mean more congestion.

Fortunately, the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) has been working hard to accommodate the increasing number of travelers in the area.  And earlier this week, I joined Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Sacramento RT, state, and local officials to celebrate the opening of Sacramento’s Blue Line light rail extension from Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College (CRC). This new service will significantly improve transit options for residents traveling between downtown Sacramento and the growing South Sacramento corridor...

Sacramento celebrates Blue LIne extension

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Earlier this month, a post here in the Fast Lane detailed how DOT helps States and local communities improve resilience in America’s transportation system, and how we can further protect our highways, bridges, and transit systems from the effects of climate change and other weather related conditions.  Like these other modes of transportation, our nation's pipelines are affected by adverse weather conditions, including hurricanes, floods, and drought. 

When these conditions contribute to a pipeline failure, they’re recorded as natural force damage events, which also include high winds, earthquakes, temperature changes, lightning, and severe weather events. Between 2005 and 2014, pipeline failures caused by natural force damage events resulted in property damages totaling $1,601,313,884. 

While we want the public to be mindful of the effects naturally occurring events can have on the pipelines connecting our communities, vigilance almost always begins with pipeline operators...

Kinder Morgan pipeline exposure during 2005 California flooding

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On March 5, 2009, Jason Rivenburg –a 35 year-old truck driver from upstate New York– pulled his truck off the highway to rest at an abandoned gas station. The next day, his body was discovered in the cab of his truck; he'd been gunned down for the seven dollars in his pocket. Thirteen days after his murder, Jason’s wife, Hope, gave birth to twins who will never know their father. 

Jason didn't decide to rest at an abandoned gas station because of preference –he had little choice.  Because he was ahead of schedule, the distribution center where he would unload his freight wasn't available to him, and there simply weren’t any safe places for Jason to wait.  This is the dilemma many truckers face every day.

We have nearly six million commercial motor vehicle drivers out on our roads each day –a number expected to increase dramatically by 2045 and the safety of everyone on our roadways demands that drivers pull off the highway and rest periodically.  That means safe truck parking is a necessity.  And that’s why, last week, I was honored to join Hope Rivenburg in announcing the National Coalition on Truck Parking, a call to action for a national dialogue on trucking needs and strategies for immediate, near-term and long-term solutions...

Hope Rivenburg at coalition announcement

Continue Reading Jason’s Legacy and Jason’s ››
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At the Federal Transit Administration, one of our top priorities is making sure that public transit helps connect people to the places they really need to go –not just physical places, but places in life.

That’s why I was proud to join Secretary Foxx earlier today at Los Angeles Trade – Technical College to announce the project selections from FTA’s Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Grant program. We awarded grants to a diverse array of 19 projects in 13 states that will work toward building the transit workforce of the future.

At L.A. Trade-Tech

We know that transit is already a leader in employing people from all walks of life. But we also know there is more that can be done to make transit jobs even more inclusive.

That’s why, in the spirit of the Secretary Foxx’s department-wide Ladders of Opportunity initiative, our workforce grant selections emphasize projects that connect disadvantaged individuals to careers in transit. These programs will target traditionally underserved communities such as women, minorities, our returning veterans, people with low-incomes, and the long-term unemployed...

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In communities across the country, America's kids are waking up to a new year of school. Some of them might be excited for a new year of learning, and some might be disappointed that summer vacation is over. But whether your kids are enthusiastic or reluctant, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to help your students get to school safely when they take the bus, ride their bikes, or walk.

From 2004 to 2013, 327 school-age children (18 and under) were killed in motor vehicle crashes when traveling to and from school.

No matter how your child gets to school —on the big yellow bus, on a bike, on foot, or in a carpool— we can do more to keep our kids safe. It begins with educating them about how to be safe on the road and particularly in and around school buses...

School bus safety

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