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U.S. ports and our marine transportation system – and the hardworking men and women behind these operations – are essential drivers of the American economy. Every day, our ports and waterways handle millions of tons of domestic and international cargo, including food and agricultural products, petrochemicals, and automobiles.  In 2014 alone, $1.7 trillion worth of U.S. goods moved through our ports, representing 75% of imports and exports by weight.

But ports, like our highways and bridges, face challenges. As a country, we are investing too little, and as container ships grow larger and larger, more cargo must be unloaded into increasingly tight spaces. And ports face unique operational challenges as they move ever-expanding volumes of cargo between ships, trucks and rail lines. Today, not a single U.S. container port is in the top 15 container ports globally according to the Journal of Commerce. Expanding trade will continue to put pressure on the existing system, increasing congestion and threatening U.S. economic competitiveness; looking forward, the demand to move goods and raw materials on the U.S. transportation system is predicted to increase by 45 percent by 2040.

To support U.S. competitiveness in a global economy, it is essential that we expand, upgrade, modernize and maintain our maritime transportation infrastructure and strengthen our workforce. That’s why the Obama Administration has been working to identify opportunities to increase investment in U.S. ports. Recently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $800 million in available funding for the nation’s freight network and highlighted the opportunity for investments in 21st century ports...

Port of Savannah

Continue Reading US Ports: Investing in ››
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Over the last weekend in February, more than 50 app developers, data experts, and civic hackers came together in Washington, DC, to help address barriers to opportunity in the Baltimore-Washington region.  During the “Celebrating the Cities – Hack the Last Mile” hackathon, participants built apps, websites, and data visualizations that shed light on the mobility challenges facing lower-income Baltimore and DC residents.

Acting DOT Under Secretary for Policy Carlos Monje welcomed participants on Friday night, sharing the Department’s vision of the critical role transportation plays in connecting Americans to economic opportunity.  

Following his keynote, I joined Stephanie Gidigbi, our Director for Strategic Initiatives; Adam Rogal, head of Uber’s API team; and Zuhairah Washington, Uber’s DC General Manager, for a panel discussion.  We explained our goals for the hackathon and encouraged attendees to be creative and solution-oriented as they worked through the weekend developing innovative approaches that might improve access to opportunity...

Team Happy Home
Hackathon winners Team Happy Home.
Continue Reading Hackathon seeks to crack ››
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Woman in truck cabProper training is critical for entry-level commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  Currently, no universal training standards exist for new CMV drivers, but this will soon change.

Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that reflects the recommendations of a “negotiated rulemaking” committee and responds to a congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to establish comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level truck and bus drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Continue Reading Negotiated Rulemaking ››
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The latest freight projections are in from our Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and they show that the number of freight tons moving on America’s transportation network is likely to grow by 40 percent in the next 3 decades while the value of freight will almost double, increasing by 92 percent.  This affirms the projections in our Beyond Traffic study and reinforces the need to boost our freight capacity and unleash the full power of our nation's economy.

Freight projection graph

Continue Reading Latest freight projections ››
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Over the last few years, DOT has issued historic consumer rules protecting the rights of the flying public.  And today, we took one more step toward ensuring better treatment of passengers by finalizing a rule that explicitly bans the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on commercial flights. 

The rule applies to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign airlines flying in, to, and from the U.S. 

While DOT has viewed its current regulatory smoking ban to be sufficiently broad to include the use of e-cigarettes, the prior rule did not explicitly define “smoking.” We took this action to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both...

E-cigarette with red "Prohibited" icon

Continue Reading DOT rule protects air ››
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When I talk to people about the inherent opportunities in mass transit, there are really only two things I want them to remember.

First, in low-income communities, public transportation can be an economic engine with lasting implications for housing, jobs, schools, safety, and health. And second, those gains aren’t happenstance. Local officials and neighborhood nonprofits need to aggressively go after transit-oriented (TOD) investment dollars if they want to leverage bus and rail lines to transform struggling areas.

To date, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has invested more than $400 million in TOD projects.  We’ve learned that the difference between success and failure, often, is an intentional effort to bring TOD dollars to places starving for new capital.  It takes strong collaborations among city leaders, community groups, and residents to make that happen. And, when it does, the impact is significant...

Tempe transit

Continue Reading Transit fuels ››
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Today, we announced that up to $377.5 million will be available over 5 years to support solution-oriented transportation research at colleges and universities under our University Transportation Centers (UTC) program.  For Fiscal Year 2016, that’s a substantial investment of up to $72.5 million in the talent and ingenuity cultivated in American higher education.

Our colleges and universities are among the best in the world. And, since 1987, the UTC program has funded valuable academic research that contributes to the long-term safety and vitality of transportation in America. But the challenges facing our transportation system over the next 30 years are daunting. So today, I’m calling on our research institutions to dig deep and think big...

Rutgers BEAST
The Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST) lab at Rutgers.
Continue Reading DOT opens competition for ››
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Last week, the Department had the honor of hosting a conversation with U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Transportation and Civil Rights. I wanted DOT employees to spend a little time with Congressman Lewis so that we could all better understand the connection between transportation and civil rights, and how the work he and his fellow Civil Rights foot soldiers did to desegregate the country’s transportation systems in the 1960s connects to the work we are doing at DOT today.

John Lewis, who was arrested more than 40 times for protesting segregation and inequality, is a living legend who, along with countless other civil rights activists, took great risks to help integrate our transportation system and other public facilities.  Thanks to them, our buses and trains and waiting rooms and rest stops are no longer segregated, but America's roads to opportunity are still not open to every community. The mission to close that gap continues to inform the work we do today in this Department...

Continue Reading Transportation as a Civil ››
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Inside a busy airport terminal, past the bookstores, the restaurants, the cinnamon bun stands, and the gift shops, opportunity is at work.

America’s airports are economic engines, fostering thousands of jobs in communities of all sizes across the country and helping commerce and tourism thrive. Airports provide ladders of opportunity for communities to revitalize neighborhoods and connect to essential services and jobs.

Opportunity soars at our nation's airports. Commercial airports support 9.6 million jobs and $358 billion in wages...

Airport cargo workers

Continue Reading America’s Airports: Where ››
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America's transportation system bears a critical burden: it must move people and deliver the goods and materials that Americans need and want safely and efficiently, to help America's businesses compete effectively in the global economy.

This requirement isn’t easy to achieve. And, it’s about to get a lot more challenging with projected population and employment growth. But, a provision in the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act offers DOT an opportunity to make significant headway in nationally and regionally significant projects.

Shipping containers

Continue Reading Freight stakeholders, start ››
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