The American transportation system has historically relied on highways and personal vehicles as the main mode of transportation, but as communities modernize they are embracing solutions that decrease congestion, emissions and total time stuck in traffic. Active transportation systems, including bike and pedestrian networks, are one tool that many communities are incorporating into their long term transportation plans.
All transportation infrastructure requires funding and financing, and the Department of Transportation has the tools to help projects get from creative idea to completed project more quickly. Both the Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Investment Act (TIFIA) program offer tools and support for projects. On April 27, 2016, both BATIC and TIFIA will be co-hosting a webinar to discuss new opportunities for active transportation to access these tools.
On Earth Day we are reminded of our responsibility to do all we can to preserve the planet for the next generation. Here at the Department – with programs like the Federal Transit Administration’s “Low-No” making a dent in the carbon footprint of transit buses and the Maritime Administration’s efforts to promote the adoption of alternative fuels and technology – we are fully committed to better environmental stewardship.
However, all over the world, there’s an important facet of environmental protection that is usually overlooked: More often than not, the environmental costs of transportation are borne by those who can least afford it.
When we think about pollution, questions and regulation typically begin with what, where, or how much. Environmental Justice (EJ) shifts the focus to who. The progress that the environmental movement has made has not yet produced equality. Pollution harms poor communities, people of color, and indigenous groups disproportionately. We know, for example, that many of our poorest communities lack good transit access, which means carbon emissions in those communities from automobiles are a by-product of the need to connect to opportunity by the means available.
I have long said that when it comes to our national security and our Nation’s prosperity - small shipyards play a critical role.
American shipbuilders not only ensure that our Nation can build and maintain the vessels our military needs to keep our Nation secure, smaller shipyards throughout our Nation maintain our domestic fleet that keeps essential commodities flowing and goods on the store shelves including in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. But what’s more, our Nation’s shipyards continue to meet or exceed international standards for efficiency and productivity in building vessels for use all over the globe while ensuring the creation and availability of good-paying jobs here at home that can support a family.
This is exactly why the Maritime Administration awarded $4.9 million in grants for capital improvements at nine small U.S. shipyards. This funding will support industrial modernizations so that our small shipyards can better compete in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
I recently completed a ride-along with owner operator Leo Wilkins. Our two-day and nearly 800-mile trip began in Sheffield, Ohio, and ended in Grain Valley, Missouri, outside of Kansas City. Along the way, we traveled through Toledo, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and St. Louis.
I wanted a first-hand and unfiltered look – from the driver’s perspective – at how our work at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with the efforts of our industry and law enforcement partners impacts safety on our nation’s roads.
Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy. Our transportation system moves millions of people and countless tons of freight every day, which requires a lot of energy – energy that is released into our environment in the form of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. In all, transportation accounts for about 30 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second-largest contributor.
At FTA, we’re proud that public transportation is already a greener way to get around than driving a private vehicle – but we can do more. That’s why we developed the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment program, known as Low-No.
The United States has the largest and most diverse general aviation (GA) community in the world - with a fleet of more than 220,000 aircraft, including amateur-built, rotorcraft, balloons, and turbojets. Improving safety for these aviators is one of the FAA’s top priorities. The fatal accident rate among GA pilots is declining, but too many lives are still being lost – 384 in the last year alone. We’re taking on this issue from a number of technological and educational initiatives, and we are directly engaging GA pilots.
Earlier this month, I traveled to the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Fla., to discuss ways new technology can be used to improve GA safety. One of the most important pieces of modern equipment with numerous safety benefits available for GA aircraft is ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. ADS-B is a key NextGen technology that uses satellites to help air traffic controllers track aircraft with far greater accuracy. It enables real-time weather and traffic awareness in the cockpit, improving situational awareness and safety.
Americans are stuck in traffic every day on the highways as seemingly a fact of life. But today, the Federal Highway Administration is unveiling a newly proposed rule to tackle the problem head on. FHWA will be requiring State transportation agencies to collect and use better data on actual travel times and to monitor the performance of the nation’s highways. This will help them to make better investment decisions and help ensure a more predictable commute.
FHWA will make system reliability a key performance measure. So, what does that mean?
The Beyond Traffic framework continues to make the case for innovative transportation solutions that address future trends that will affect the way our nation moves people and freight. You’ve heard the numbers. Within 30 years:
70 million people.
45 percent more freight.
This increase will include a drastic population shift from rural to urban areas and we’re already preparing our transportation system to adapt and expand. We have a sense for the challenges and opportunities this presents here at home, so we’re taking our ideas and solutions overseas for an international innovation exchange. Beginning today, I will be participating in roundtables, presentations and panels that highlight transportation’s role in improving quality of life, economic development, and the environment. Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are leaders in such innovation, particularly when it comes to creating bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and developing Smart Cities through technological innovation, so we will visit all three countries.
With over 20 colleges and universities in the Washington, DC metro area, the energy, excitement and commitment to the future that resonates throughout the city are palpable. So you can imagine the atmosphere in College Park, MD when I stopped by the University of Maryland for their Transportation, Innovation and Policy Summit. Based on the theme alone, this was exactly where I wanted to be.
As I walked through the technology showcase, I saw work from our nation’s future transportation leaders and researchers that exhibited just the type of pioneering and innovative thinking our nation needs.
If you happen to be flying through Peoria International Airport, you’ll soon see a familiar name on the walls: former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Long-time readers of the Fast Lane are already familiar with some of Mr. LaHood’s greatest accomplishments as Secretary. He launched a nationwide campaign to end distracted driving, led DOT's Recovery Act investments, and fought for new airline passenger protections, just to name a few.