When DOT and the rest of the transportation industry face our toughest challenges, we don't have the luxury of Commissioner Gordon's Bat-Phone. But we do have a secret weapon: Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center— and that's a pretty good substitute.
The Volpe Center was established in 1970 to provide analytical, scientific, and engineering support to a newly-established USDOT. Its mission? To improve America's transportation system by anticipating emerging issues and advancing transportation innovation. As dedicated public servants, the Volpe staff has devoted their careers to making transportation better for all of us. Whether they are coming up with exciting new ideas or supporting national transportation priorities, Volpe consistently delivers transformative transportation solutions.
Last week, I had the chance to tour the Center and meet some of the men and women who are moving transportation forward. It was a visit I won't soon forget —and not just because Volpe staff put together a video highlight reel, which I encourage you to watch below...
Automobile manufacturers have an obligation to repair safety defects in their products, and it's the job of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate possible defects and make sure that automakers fulfill that safety obligation.
And if you noticed that I used the word "safety" three times in the sentence above, there's a reason for that: Safety is this Department's number one priority, and we simply cannot ease up in our muscular pursuit of that priority, not for a moment. Consumers, the traveling public, and everyone who uses America's vast network of roads trusts their safety and the safety of their loved ones to us, and we take that trust very seriously.
That's why today's consent order from NHTSA regarding Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) response to its safety obligations is such a big step forward.
In this order, Fiat Chrysler acknowledges violations of its legal requirement to repair vehicles with safety defects. The company will submit to rigorous oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and pay as much as $105 million --the largest-ever civil penalty NHTSA has imposed...
Smithsonian Hosts Festival ADA: 25 Years of Disability Civil Rights
Why do I see a future for passenger rail? Because, as the President has said, this is America. The country that built the Transcontinental Railroad more than 150 years ago shouldn’t be lagging behind others when it comes to building quality rail connections between our cities.
We have a capacity problem now that is only going to get worse in the very near future. A world-class passenger rail network in our fastest-growing regions is no luxury; it's a necessity. We have a rail network in the American Southeast that --with a commitment from DOT, States, and regions-- can be upgraded to accommodate quality passenger service.
Yesterday, I sat down with a group of men and women, Virginians for High Speed Rail, who share that commitment. And I let them know that they are not alone...
By 2045, our nation will need to accommodate the 70 million more people that will be added to our population. Knowing this, we must prepare for a nation with growing needs for food, goods, commerce, defense, and energy. These needs mean our national freight system will have to move 14 billion more tons of freight each year, and 4 billion tons of that freight will sourced internationally and move through America’s ports.
You can imagine, then, the importance of facilities like the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling the latest 13,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessels. These super-sized ships are the vessels of the near future --a future that will feature a widened Panama Canal-- and these vessels are capable of carrying many times more freight than ships currently passing through the Canal.
Yesterday, at the Port of Virginia, we celebrated the groundbreaking of two projects that will improve access, safety, and efficiency, allowing the Port to manage the anticipated increases in vessel size and cargo tonnage more effectively...
As part of a whirlwind stay in New York City, I met yesterday with students and faculty at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation, and this morning I spoke with folks at New York MOVES, a transportation conference.
In both places, I was fortunate to find people who understand that ensuring safe mobility is a key factor in improving social mobility. The Rudin Center, for example, recently published a report indicating that, "an individual’s ability to access a job is largely a function of how well their neighborhood is served by the public transportation system."
This is something that’s been on my mind a lot. In my last post here, I wrote about how as a country we need to re-locate the resolve to complete this generation’s major projects like the Gateway tunnels. But the challenges we face run even deeper. We also have to look for ways to undo flaws in how 20th century infrastructure was designed.
Historically, we have valued throughput while placing less thought on the actual places in between...
Yesterday, anticipating the second day of the New York Times Cities For Tomorrow conference, @mslynnross tweeted, "Looking forward to action-packed Day 2 at #NYTCFT...." And in my reply, I had to wonder whether I could deliver on that expectation.
It might not fit everyone's definition of "action-packed," but there was a lot of pretty lively discussion at Cities For Tomorrow, and later in the day when I met students and faculty at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation...and again earlier this morning at New York MOVES.
You see, New York's residents, officials, and planners are having a real conversation about transportation, and they're talking about three things that I've been talking about with people across the country: the need to reverse our infrastructure deficit, the need to use transportation to connect people and not to separate them, and the need to protect everyone who uses our streets --including bicyclists and pedestrians.
For now, I just want to talk about one of them...
From mass transit projects to new highways, bridges, sidewalks and hiker/biker trails, effectively addressing transportation needs in communities across the nation shares one common foundation —good planning.
Last week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced recipients of the biennial 2015 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards to local leaders who are sponsoring forward-thinking transportation projects that deliver lasting benefits to the public.
From Roanoke, Virginia, to Mt. Hood, Oregon, we selected eight projects based on their successes in forging partnerships in the community and developing creative, effective solutions with long-term benefits. Each project also addresses more than one form of transportation...
Whether you're a close watcher of the industry or not, you've probably been hearing more lately about public-private partnerships in transportation. And, chances are that you'll be hearing more about them in the near future.
This nation is facing an infrastructure deficit. Yet we know that our country is growing –and that we’re going to have more people accessing our roads, rails, and airports than ever before. And more freight to move than ever before.
This creates an environment where, rather than having a single strategy, we need to have an all-of-the-above strategy. This is where the concept of public-private partnerships – or P3s plays in...
Last week, The Washington Post published an article echoing one of the themes Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has emphasized for the past two years: how the roads and rails built decades ago divide many American cities along racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines.
As the Post's Emily Badger wrote --and Darla Cameron supported with powerful infographics-- "Look at racial maps of many American cities, and stark boundaries between neighboring black and white communities frequently denote an impassable railroad or highway, or a historically uncrossable avenue."
Secretary Foxx's remarks last week from Charlotte, North Carolina, a city he knows well and where he himself experienced this geographic separation from the commercial and educational opportunities of Greater Charlotte, illustrate the point very clearly...