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If America's small businesses are the engines of job creation, then the Federal government has been providing those engines a good supply of fuel.  This year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has given another “A” rating to the federal government for awarding almost 25 percent of its contracts to small businesses.

Here at DOT, we've made supporting small and disadvantaged businesses a top priority.  So it's no surprise that --in conjunction with Secretary Foxx’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative-- DOT alone awarded almost double the federal average in Fiscal Year 2014.  For the year, almost 45 percent of our procurement contracts went to small businesses. 

DOT's OSDBU team in a group photo
DOT's OSDBU team

DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) was instrumental in this achievement by providing a range of support to help small businesses compete for these contracts...

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In June, we published graphs showing past balances and projected balances for the two Highway Trust Fund accounts, the Highways Account and the Mass Transit Account.  Those graphs showed the Highways Account balance quickly approaching zero with the Mass Transit Account balance not far behind.

A month later, we've updated the data for both accounts to reflect June's activity.  I'm sorry to report that the situation has not really changed, and both accounts are dwindling fast.  In fact, we're nearing the threshold for the Highways Account where we have to institute cash management procedures...

Chart showing highway account balance hitting 0 by end of F.Y. 2015

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Today we released a set of Fact Sheets showing the condition of transportation in all 50 states. It's not a pretty picture.

Data on Massachusetts showing 52% of bridges in need of attention
Grim data from just one of the 50 fact sheets DOT released today.

A nation's infrastructure is its economic backbone. And you don't need a history book to know that a big part of America's success has long been our willingness to invest in our transportation system. In return, our ability to get supplies to manufacturers, goods to market, and people where they need to go has helped us thrive.

But we've been investing in that ability less and less.  And, as our willingness to invest has declined and transportation spending has decreased, it's no coincidence that —more and more—  Americans in every state are experiencing the frustration of poor road conditions and congestion.

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Like most of our Nation’s major urban areas, New York City is experiencing growing pains. The Big Apple’s rising population means surging needs for freight and services, which have made congestion a common reality for the city’s more than 10 million daily commuters.

However, New York has long had a transportation ace in the hole —its geography and access to water.  New York City is positioned on a series of islands right in the middle of New York Harbor, one of the world’s largest natural harbors.  We at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) have always viewed the harbor as a common sense solution to the city’s transportation challenges, whether it’s using ferries to transport people or ships and barges to move freight, and that’s why we've been making moves to help New York fully leverage this asset. 

Floating containers on barges across the harbor has long been a reliable way to move cargo between New York and New Jersey —without adding to the dense traffic on the region's bridges. That’s why back in April, with MARAD's support, Secretary Foxx formally designated a cross-harbor barge service between Port Newark and Brooklyn as an Official American Marine Highway Project...

Chip Jaenichen at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal

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Congress has a scant 24 days until America's surface transportation law expires and our Highway Trust Fund crosses a dangerously low threshold.  Although the current law wasn't really more than the 34th successive extension of previous law at pretty bare funding levels, even that is approaching a dead end.

If you're a Fast Lane reader, you know where I stand: this Congress should pass a long-term bill so States, regions, counties, and cities can plan more than 2 months ahead. And that bill should significantly increase investment in our Nation's roads, bridges, and transit systems so this country can continue to thrive.

We included those ideas and others --like faster project delivery so people can enjoy the benefits of transportation investments more quickly-- in the GROW AMERICA Act that we sent to Congress last March.  But I keep looking at the calendar and wondering what we have to do to get a proposal like GROW through Congress and to President Obama's desk for his signature.

The good news is, I am hardly alone.  Leaders across the country are adding their voices to this important campaign...

24 days until surface transportation law expires

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Green Marine CertifiedFast Lane readers will know that we haven't been shy about sharing the environmental benefits of shipping freight by water.  From America's Marine Highways to the first LNG-fueled container ship, we think the relative sustainability advantages of maritime shipping add up to a significant benefit for shippers and the public.  And at the end of May, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation added to the evidence when Green Marine certified the DOT agency's environmental performance.

Green Marine is a voluntary organization certifying environmental stewardship among the North American marine industry.  Participants include shipowners, ports, terminals, and shipyards based in Canada and the United States, as well as the Canadian and U.S. Seaway corporations.  The program encourages participants to reduce their environmental footprint by taking concrete actions in nine different areas.

Continue Reading Seaway's 2014 ››
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To many Americans, a car is more than a machine.  It can be a lifeline to food and medical care or your only access to opportunity like a job or school.  For many of us, our cars are very personal extensions of our lives, filled with reminders of our families, remnants of past trips, and accessories that reflect who we are.

But, by the time you've finished reading these few paragraphs, somewhere in America, another car thief will have taken away another vehicle.  In fact, in the U.S. a motor vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds.

Would you be prepared if it happened to you?  Well, the best preparation is to prevent that theft in the first place, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some tips to help you do just that...

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As we celebrate Independence Day this week, here at DOT we've been thinking a lot about the military veterans who have defended --since Lexington and Concord-- the independence we hold so dear. 

So we're happy to announce that, since 2011, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) program has helped more than 10,000 veterans and active duty personnel obtain a Commercial Driver's License more easily...

Military truck convoy

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The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has the utmost faith in America's newest mariners, in large part because graduates from our nation's maritime academies have already tested and proven their skills on training cruises. Often, they are presented with the opportunity to help others in need or in peril on the sea, and this year has been no exception.

Last month, Cadets from California Maritime Academy were onboard the T/S GOLDEN BEAR, completing a training cruise off the coast of Spain. Upon receiving a distress call from a small group of Algerian men, the Cadets immediately came to the ailing group’s rescue providing food, water, supplies and support until Spanish authorities arrived on site.

And also last month, Cadets from Maine Maritime Academy were in the final stage of their training cruise aboard the T/S STATE OF MAINE.  The ship was in the North Atlantic, near Nova Scotia, when the U.S. Coast Guard sent word of an imperiled sailboat that had been battered by storms and was taking on water. The‎ C‎adets were roughly 30 nautical miles away from the damaged vessel and they quickly altered their course to intercept the stricken vessel, safely rescuing its sole passenger...

Rescue composite
Cal Maritime assist (left) and Maine maritime rescue (right)
Continue Reading American Mariners to the ››
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Yesterday, the Obama Administration invited communities to participate in the second round of Local Foods, Local Places, an initiative to build strong local food systems as part of strong local economies in rural communities.

Local Foods, Local Places provides direct technical support --agricultural, transportation, public health, environmental, and economic-- to local communities to help spur economic growth and improve the quality of life for all residents. 

At DOT, we support this initiative by working to ensure that local roads and transit services connect farmers, food businesses, markets, and residents...

Truck on rural bridge

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