So, we know our revenues and our certainty are about as low as they’ve ever been. We know for sure that our country is growing and that we’re going to have more people accessing our roads, rails, and airports and more freight to move than ever before. Rather than having a single strategy, we need to have an all-of-the-above strategy. We need to use every financing tool available. When it makes sense, we need to turn to the private sector.
That's where Public-Private Partnerships come in. Now, it’s not that public-private partnerships haven’t been happening in U.S. infrastructure. They’ve been happening for a while. Earlier this week, I spoke with members of the Long Term Infrastructure Investors Association about the environment for these partnerships in the U.S. and DOT's efforts to improve that environment...
Cross-posted from a Raleigh News-Observer Op-ed published on Friday, September 18.
A similar Op-ed from Secretary Foxx and Richmond, VA, Mayor Dwight C. Jones appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, September 20.
[Last Friday] a critical segment of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor received the all-clear. By completing an environmental impact statement to develop service between Richmond and Raleigh, we are now closer to a groundbreaking than we have ever been since planning began in the early 1990s.
Now we have to ask ourselves a simple question: How do we keep the effort to build a powerful Southern rail network connecting Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Richmond to Washington, DC, and Northeast Corridor service moving full speed ahead?
It took a generation of discussions, planning and designing to get us to where we are today. But we do not have another generation to reach the finish line. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury; it is a necessity, and the clock is ticking. If we cannot figure out how to build this network soon, it is not hyperbole – it is a fact – that the South is going to be stuck in traffic for a very long time...
Last Friday, I was pleased to welcome Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez and others from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Sacramento State for the first of 11 DOT Beyond Traffic megaregion forums nationwide. At the town hall style discussion, leaders from across Northern California and Western Nevada joined in a frank and productive conversation on transportation infrastructure and capacity challenges that will be facing our region in the next 30 years.
I know —and the discussion made clear— that my hometown of Sacramento has an exciting future to look forward to. Today, the city is on a roll. Our economy is recovering, and downtown Sacramento is poised to become one of the country’s most exciting urban hubs. We’re being recognized for our great progress, especially by major national outlets such as the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, and Smart Assets. And an Entrepreneur Magazine article recently ranked Sacramento as the fifth-best city in America for start-ups.
With all of the good things happening in Sacramento and the surrounding region, it’s no surprise that more people want to come here. In fact, between 2010 and 2050, the population of the Northern California megaregion is expected to increase by more than 50 percent. And this rapid growth means we need to grapple with the challenge of modernizing and expanding our transportation infrastructure to accommodate all of these new people...
Cross-posted from www.whitehouse.gov/blog.
Summary: Today, the Administration took a series of actions to further accelerate Federal decisions for infrastructure projects nationwide.
A central component of the President’s plan to promote economic growth and expand opportunity is building a 21st century infrastructure and modernizing the Federal permitting and environmental review process. Over the last few years, we’ve seen great progress - Federal agencies have expedited the review and permitting of over 50 major infrastructure projects, including bridges, transit, railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects, and over 30 of those projects have completed the permitting process. More efficient and expeditious processes mean timely Federal decisions and greater predictability for project sponsors and investors as well as the public. Still, ample opportunities exist to further improve the efficiency and quality of review, which would cut review timelines while also improving environmental and community outcomes.
Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget and Council on Environmental Quality issued new guidance providing direction to Federal agencies to take a series of actions to significantly expand the use of, and ultimately the number of infrastructure projects on, the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard, a tool for publicly tracking agency progress on completing Federal permitting and environmental review processes for proposed infrastructure projects...
If you've been reading the Fast Lane even occasionally in the past few months, then you know this Department is very excited about the safety and mobility benefits that connected and automated vehicle technologies promise. Just last week, for example, we announced our three connected vehicle pilot projects in New York, Florida, and Wyoming, where we'll be putting these breakthrough technologies through their paces.
On the heels of that announcement, I traveled to Frankfurt, Germany for the first-ever G7 Transport Ministers meeting, and it was clear to me and everyone visiting the Frankfurt Motor Show that other nations take connected and automated vehicle technologies pretty seriously, too...
If you live near New York, Washington, or Philadelphia, then you've probably heard a lot about the intense preparations for the upcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to those U.S. cities.
Security has been boosted; roads will be closed; and transit systems are expected to be crowded as hundreds of thousands of people travel to papal events. But, you should also know that the three cities hosting Pope Francis this week are off-limits to Unmanned Aircraft --what we commonly call drones.
That's right; the Department's Federal Aviation Administration has designated No-Drone Zones in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia this week...and in surrounding communities...
Today, we're taking our Beyond Traffic national conversation on the road.
All it takes is one traffic jam or one train delay.
When it works, most of us don't think about our transportation system. The kids get to school; you get to work or the store; you order something online, and it arrives within 2 days --sometimes even faster.
But when it doesn't work, when the stress points in our transportation networks are revealed --a bridge crumbles, a rail tunnel fails-- and those transportation stress points become stress points in our own lives, we suddenly realize how important it is to have safe, reliable options for getting from one place to another...
Cross-posted courtesy of Kansas DOT Put the Brakes on Fatalities series.
As I did last year on these pages, I must begin my "Put the Brakes on Fatalities" message by thanking the folks at the Kansas DOT, who put this valuable series together every year. The combination of professional guidance and personal narratives you'll read here for the next 20 days is powerful persuasion that all of us can --and should-- work together every day to make our roads safer for all who use them.
Last year, I wrote about the importance of individual decisions--the decision not to drink and drive, the decision to put your phone away when you're behind the wheel, the decision to keep your eye out for bicyclists and pedestrians. And in a world where we know that more than 90 percent of all crashes are due in part to human error, there's no question that our individual choices and actions have the greatest direct impact on road safety.
But, precisely because driver error plays such a critical role in safety, we see a host of opportunities to improve highway design and automotive technology to help drivers perform better...
When we published our latest Highway Trust Fund ticker last month, it created some confusion. Some observers misconstrued the numbers to indicate that the Highway Account of the Trust Fund will be “out of the woods” for many months to come. That is hardly the case. Indeed, the trust fund could be facing rocky seas and therefore need additional funding from Congress before the end of the year, potentially as soon as this coming November.
With the recent funding infusion that Congress authorized in July, we anticipate the cash balance of the highway account staying above zero until June 2016, but that is far from the whole story.
Given the volatility of revenues and expenditures and the uncertainty of very micro-level projections, DOT must consider employing methods to conserve cash once the balance of the highway account falls below a prudent threshold. The latest transfer from the General Fund keeps the account's cash balance above the prudent level of $4 billion, but only until November 2015.
At that time, DOT may be required to implement cash management procedures, and that will slow reimbursements to States for infrastructure work...
Last week I joined the U.S. Surgeon General to release “Step It Up: A Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.” The event brought together leaders from social justice groups, healthcare, athletes, and business, all talking about the tremendous benefits of walking.
At DOT, we recognize that walking or wheelchair rolling is the beginning and end of every trip. Whether you’re walking to your car or bus, into the airport or train station, you need to be able to do it safely. This is more important than ever because for a growing number of people, walking or rolling is actually their primary way to get around. In communities across the nation, safe access to jobs, schools, and essential services is critical for building ladders of opportunity.
So we’ve been hard at work improving safety for pedestrians through new initiatives, tools, and partnerships. And we'll continue to do so as we wholeheartedly embrace the Surgeon General’s call to action...