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On Feb. 15, we announced that Sea Year training for U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen will resume on three commercial carriers – Crowley  Maritime Corporation, Maersk Line Limited and American President Line. This followed implementation of comprehensive new requirements for commercial carriers to ensure that the academy’s standards for behavior, leadership and integrity are upheld. 

I’m now pleased to announce that last week another commercial carrier, TOTE Services, also has been certified under these strict new federal requirements to be “Sea Year Eligible.”  The first Midshipmen have already begun their training aboard these commercial vessels, and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is reviewing applications from five other companies that have applied to meet the new Sea Year requirements.

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 One of the safest choices drivers or passengers can make is to buckle up. In 2015, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 13,941 lives. Many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt – the national use rate is at 88.5 percent – but nearly 27.5 million still don’t buckle up.

 

Seat belts are the best defence against drunk drivers and they prevent nearly half of all fatal injuries. So please, for yourself and your family, take the time to buckle up every time.

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Get ready to spring forward on Sunday, March 11, at 2 a.m. as Daylight Saving Time begins. Along with checking your smoke detector batteries, make sure you take a moment and check for vehicle safety recalls. Adding this to your spring and fall safety routine keeps you and your family safe all year long. In fact, don’t stop there. Safety recalls can also affect child car seats and tires. You can check for recalls at NHTSA.gov/Recalls.

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Before the summer of 2016, Patricia Arcuri did not expect to pursue a career in transportation, but her experience that summer led her down a path she had not seen before.

“It introduced me to an exciting world I did not know about – the transportation industry,” she said. “The transportation industry is fascinating and provides various opportunities for professional development for women with different skills and abilities.”

From left to right: Rick Ortiz, Criado & Associates; Cristina Criado, Criado & Associates; Ana Cervantes, 2016 WITI Intern; Tony Arps, Gulf Region SBTRC.

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Spring break is just around the corner. As travelers prepare for any spring break travel with family and friends, it is important to take a few minutes to review the contents of luggage–it makes everyone safer. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for regulating and ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) nationwide. To do so, PHMSA must work closely with its federal partners who help enforce HAZMAT regulations.

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Movement equals action, to paraphrase Albert Einstein. That’s true in science. It’s true in business. It’s true in health care, education, media—in every facet of the American patchwork.

And it’s true in the U.S. military, where humanitarian and combat missions rely on swift transportation solutions where success or failure can mean lives saved or lives lost.

 

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I was in Beaumont, Texas, today for the naming of the M/V Liberty Passion, the third ship owned by Liberty Global Logistics to join the Maritime Security Program (MSP) fleet. It was an encouraging event because the addition of Liberty Passion fits perfectly with the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) emphasis on growing the MSP at a time when the U.S.-flag fleet is shrinking to unprecedented levels.

To protect our national security and economic prosperity, we must maintain a strong Merchant Marine and MSP, which protects our national security by assuring that the Department of Defense (DOD) retains a powerful, mobile, privately-owned U.S.-flag and U.S.-crewed fleet of commercial ships to call on in times of crisis. The fact that Liberty Global Logistics, one of our long-time partners based in New York, continues to participate in the program is worth celebrating.

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All five major transportation modes carried a share of the more than $1 trillion in freight that crossed the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico in 2016.  Based on the value of the freight, trucks carried most – 65.5 percent – a higher share than a year earlier and a decade earlier in 2006.

Rail (15.5 percent), vessel (5.5 percent), pipeline (4.6 percent) and air (3.9 percent) carried the remaining share of cross-border freight. Here is a more detailed look at the shipments on both borders.

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Winter is still here, at least it is in some parts of the United States. And since it’s here, snow and ice can create unfavorable driving conditions—making both roads and rails slick, and potentially increasing the chance of your car having a hard time crossing railroad tracks.

That leads to this question: If your car gets stuck on a railroad track, would you know what to do?

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Highlights

Today marks my first month’s return to the Department!   The Vice President had presided over my swearing-in and my family was able to attend.  The past first four weeks have been filled with meetings, briefings, visits, consultations and outreach to you, members of congress and key stakeholders to be updated on the current issues facing the Department and our country. 

This past weekend, I met with a number of governors and spoke to the National Governor’s Association Winter Meeting on “Innovation & Infrastructure.”   The nation’s infrastructure was, obviously, on the top of their agenda. It was informative and interesting to learn about the innovative ways governors are tackling infrastructure challenges in their states. They emphasized that each state was different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every issue.  They wanted flexibility to be able to address the issues within their states.  Many states have become incubators of emerging technology and remarkable agents of change. I am looking forward to the Department forming strong partnerships with them going forward.

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