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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take part in a groundbreaking for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  It’s DOT's first project to break ground in 2015 and also the first of any project using funds from the latest round of USDOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants announced just last September.

Beginning immediately, workers will begin replacing the 65-year-old bridge, which carries an estimated 14,000 drivers each day over the Piscataqua River. The new span will also provide rail access to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, carry crucial commercial traffic along the U.S. Route 1 Bypass, and serve as the primary emergency alternate bridge for the I-95 High Level Bridge between the two states. It also connects the Maine and New Hampshire DOTs that are partnering in a joint venture to replace the crossing.

But the bridge will connect even more than the two banks of a river; it will connect centuries...

Rendering of the replacement bridge

Continue Reading Breaking ground: a new year ››
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Earlier today, I had the opportunity to welcome students returning to Somerville High School in Massachusetts after their winter break. Actually, I was there to announce a Federal Transit Administration agreement to help fund the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line Extension from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. But it was entirely fitting to make the announcement at a local high school.

I’m the grandson of teachers who, like so many teachers, went above and beyond their job descriptions because they understood that they were paving the way for a new generation to go further. That's what education is about. And it's also what transportation is about...

Photo of MBTA Green Line train

Continue Reading MBTA Green Line Extension a ››
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The Federal Aviation Administration’s enduring mission is to ensure that the United States has the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.  In 2014, we’ve taken many steps to accomplish this result.  I’d like to highlight three particular efforts... 

NextGen allows multiple aircraft approach

Continue Reading FAA ready for 2015 ››
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Although it doesn't always work out this way, this final day of 2014 is also the last day of the Saint Lawrence Seaway's busy navigation season. By the time the ball drops in New York City's Time Square, all vessels are expected to have finished transiting the Seaway's Montreal / Lake Ontario section as well as the Welland Canal that connects Lakes Erie and Ontario.

With the Seaway still open, the final shipping traffic and tonnage data are incomplete. But as of the end of November, total cargo was greater than 34,500,000 metric tonnes, which is nearly a five percent increase from the 2013 navigation season. That increase was led by grain shipping, which showed a 44 percent jump over 2013. That's great news for farmers and agricultural communities with access to the Great Lakes & Seaway System...

Continue Reading New Year's Eve brings ››
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The end of the year is the time when many people look back at the past 12 months and compile their “best of” lists for books, movies, and music. We at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have a list of our own.  

I am proud to say that our long list of accomplishments this year includes three game changers in particular that advance our safety-first mission by cutting the red tape and waste burdening American businesses, offering a helping hand to our soldiers preparing to transition into civilian careers in transportation, and working to improve health and wellness of bus and truck drivers...

Driver inspecting truck

Continue Reading FMCSA's 2014 ››
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With over 95% of all U.S. foreign trade by volume moving across oceans onboard ever-increasing sized vessels, barge tows transporting millions of tons of coal and other bulk commodities on our inland waterways, and government-owned and commercial vessels carrying U.S. military equipment and supplies to and from overseas contingencies, our Nation’s reliance on marine transportation is stronger today than it has ever been.

As the agency within the DOT that develops and promotes American marine transportation and the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Maritime Administration—or “MARAD”—works diligently to ensure the dependability and security of this system along with its intermodal connections for the movement of people and freight. With 2014 coming to a close, I have been impressed with my team and proud to look back on what has been a highly productive year for MARAD.  Most importantly, we delivered results on a number of measures to accomplish our mission...

M/V Cape Rise in Port Arthur, Texas

Continue Reading A Momentous Year for MARAD ››
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Innovation and investment in infrastructure doesn’t take a holiday.  Throughout 2014, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been relentless in working with state DOTs to save time, save money and save lives, by encouraging the use of innovative technologies and methods to build roads, bridges and highways better, faster and more cost-effectively...

Construction on Tappan Zee Bridge replacement

Continue Reading For highway innovation, ››
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Yes, Virginia, you and the rest of the world's boys and girls can rest easy; thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration and NextGen, there will be a transglobal Santa flight this year!

We can confirm reports that FAA safety inspectors in the North Pole have been working closely with us elves on-site and have cleared the Santa One sleigh to deliver toys to boys and girls throughout the world who’ve been good for goodness sake...

Santa reviews flight plan with elves


Continue Reading NextGen Santa Cleared by ››
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America is leading the global effort to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. And part of the Obama Administration's whole-of-government response has included some recent heavy lifting by two ships from the Maritime Administration's (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force, the M/V Cape Rise and the M/V Cape Wrath.

Today, we're happy to report that the volunteer civilian mariners crewing the Cape Rise and Cape Wrath are home for the holidays...

Photo of Cape Wrath crew
Crew of Cape Wrath before departing on Ebola aid mission; courtesy of Maritime Executive.
Continue Reading Safe return a welcome ››
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Not all of the goals we work toward at DOT allow for straightforward measurement, but with our number one priority--safety--the statistics tell a pretty clear story. And on Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data showing a 3.1 percent decrease in the number of road deaths from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline since 2004. The estimated number of people injured in crashes also declined by 2.1 percent from 2012.

The 2013 FARS data also tell us that America's highway fatality rate -1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled-- is at its lowest point ever. Ever.

That improvement in safety doesn't just happen on its own. It's the result of the men and women of NHTSA and our many safety partners educating drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It's the result of better-engineered roadways. And it's the result of vigilant enforcement by police departments and state highway patrol officers...

Photo of young woman driver putting on seat belt

Continue Reading Decline in crash deaths ››
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