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Last week, leaders from across the Sunshine State joined Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau for “Beyond Traffic,” a forum and interactive discussion about emerging trends that will affect our policies and decision making and about how those trends will shape the future of our nation’s transportation system.

Over the last year, Orlando has made great strides in our efforts to advance our transportation system.  Our regional leaders have worked collaboratively to advance commuter rail, bus rapid transit, bike share, car share and enhancements to our airport to accommodate All Aboard Florida, a rail line that will connect Orlando to Miami. These projects make Orlando more competitive in attracting businesses and a diverse workforce.

While we are proud of the transit advances we have accomplished in Orlando, we can't focus our transit decisions on those things that impact Central Florida alone.  This is why it was so critical that the “Beyond Traffic” forum brought together Mayors from across the state, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie, Palm Bay Mayor William Capote, and Director of Miami Dade Transit Alice Bravo to discuss long and short term transportation decisions that go beyond municipal and county boundaries...

Orlando forum-goer explains why we need to move beyond traffic

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It's no secret to Fast Lane readers our transportation maintenance is lagging behind our growing need or that yesterday’s infrastructure will not meet tomorrow’s demand. We’re going to have 70 million more people in the next 30 years, and our ability to get where we need to go and move freight is already constrained.

And while freight grows domestically, we also have the widening of the Panama Canal, which will bring bigger ships and heavier loads into our ports. Despite the tremendous job America's ports do each and every day, meeting the triple challenge of expanding demand, larger vessels, and heavier loads will be no easy lift.

Fortunately, at the Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT) in New Jersey, our Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) is part of a promising model for meeting those challenges. BATIC, which I wrote about here on Tuesday, is helping the PNCT explore financing options and eligibilities for its $230 million infrastructure modernization project...

Secretary Foxx at Port Newark

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Last week, our nation hosted Pope Francis.  I was fortunate to have a front row seat at his historic speech to the U.S. Congress, and I listened intently as he touched on many topics.  

In a city often overheated with clever catchphrases and slogans, Pope Francis explained the challenges faced by "many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time– to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society."

Photo of Pope Francis in House

Although I am not Catholic, his urging to treat others as we would wish to be treated spoke to me with particular force because, throughout my tenure, I have worked to deliver a transportation system even more responsive to those among us who struggle hardest for a shot at the American Dream...

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DOT's Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has an important safety mission –to ensure that hazardous materials are transported safely by all modes of transportation, including the nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipeline.  And today, we announced proposed regulations to improve the safety of hazardous liquid pipelines. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be available for public comment until January 8, 2016.

Nearly 200,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscross our country, operating near communities and treasured landscapes and crossing major bodies of water, including rivers.  The proposed regulations seek to strengthen the way hazardous liquid pipelines are operated, inspected, and maintained in the United States.

Here are five things we think you should know about PHMSA’s Hazardous Liquids NPRM...

Pipeline map

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Our job at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to root out safety-related defects in vehicles and equipment to help keep Americans safe on the road. In 2014 alone, there were 803 vehicle recalls involving 63.9 million vehicles --including two of the largest vehicle recalls in history.

We’ll never stop working to keep unsafe cars, trucks, and related equipment off the roads because it saves lives and prevents injuries. And you can help as well.

If you believe a vehicle or piece of vehicle equipment has a safety defect, file a complaint with NHTSA. As is clear in one recent case, a single complaint can trigger a recall—and possibly save lives...

Crash test dummy in driver's seat

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Today, I’m proud to announce that the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is awarding nearly $2 million to universities carrying out research projects designed to find pipeline safety solutions. 

PHMSA is the federal administration that develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation system. Our Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP) provides undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to bring fresh perspectives to filling technical gaps and developing a range of safety technologies. Two years after the successful launch of this program, we're happy to congratulate this year's recipients...

Photo of pipeline safety research

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When you make a major purchase like a house or a car, you want to maintain it in good condition so it can provide reliable and safe use for many years.  The same is true for the transit buses and trains, stations, tracks and infrastructure, and other equipment and facilities used to deliver service that millions of people depend on every day.

Right now, the backlog of investment needed to replace and rehabilitate our Nation's aging transit infrastructure into a state of good repair is an estimated $86 billion.

One way to lower maintenance costs for transit assets, increase reliability and performance, reduce travel delays for riders, and improve safety is by identifying and prioritizing state of good repair needs.  That's why, today, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a proposed rule that would require public transportation agencies to monitor and manage their capital assets with the goal of achieving and maintaining a state of good repair. 

The proposed rule --required by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and available for public comment-- would define the term “state of good repair” and require public transportation agencies to develop Transit Asset Management Plans that inventory and assess the condition of their capital assets...

President Obama and Sec Foxx tour Metro Transit maintenance shop

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I was thrilled to be back in Central Florida this week on behalf of Secretary Foxx to sign a $93.4 million full funding grant agreement with SunRail. The Federal Transit Administration grant will support the 17.2-mile second phase of expanded commuter rail service from Southern Orlando into Osceola County.

And I was pleased to be joined by Congressman John Mica, Congressman Alan Grayson, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer –three great champions for public transportation.

Group photo from SunRail event

The new line will extend from south of Orlando through Kissimmee to Poinciana in Osceola County.  The project promises improved transit access to regional employment, entertainment, cultural, and retail destinations, including the Orlando Central Business District, and –through transit connections– to the Orlando International Airport, Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, and the Lake Nona mixed-use commercial community.

FTA’s contribution to SunRail for Phase II South will cover about half the cost of the extension. This worthwhile investment will bring more transportation options to even more people so they can access jobs, services, shopping, entertainment, and other destinations when service opens in 2019...

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Yesterday, NASA released data indicating evidence for liquid water on Mars, and it's got a lot of people pretty excited, including me. But the reality is, whether we find water on Mars or not, we have important needs to attend to right here on Earth. And we will have to attend to those for a very long time.

One of those needs is to create and maintain a transportation system that gets people where they need to go and delivers the goods that drive our economy and sustain our lives. And while building roads and bridges might not sound as interesting as exploring the conditions for life on Mars, it's critically important to the lives Americans lead right here, right now.

Last year, President Obama charged this Department with creating the Build America Transportation Investment Center to help us accomplish that mission. And today, we are formally announcing that we have hired a talented team of individuals to operate the center, which we call "BATIC," and outlined its three areas of activity.

BATIC serves as the single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to harness federal transportation expertise, apply for federal transportation financing programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships...

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In a new DOT pilot program, New York City and Pensacola, Florida, will test delivery and pickup of goods during off-peak hours, such as nighttime, to help relieve congestion on city streets. 

The problem of local traffic is well-known to any major U.S. city; truck operators suffer when forced to crawl through crowded city streets, and residents suffer when trucks block travel lanes or parking access. With commuter traffic lighter and parking more available, off-peak hours should make delivery easier for truck drivers as well as peak commuters and people scrambling for parking. 

And thanks to DOT research, development, and deployment grants totaling $200,000, these two pilot cities will helps us test this idea... 

Night time delivery eases traffic, parking concerns

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