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Every day, thousands of public servants in the federal government toil to make our nation more safe, efficient, and competitive.  Since 2013, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most remarkable federal employees here at the DOT, and during Public Service Recognition Week, I want to thank them for their dedication.

In affirmation of the commitment I’ve seen at DOT, the Partnership for Public Service has selected three of our own as finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, known affectionately in the federal service as the “Sammie” award.  Adam Schildge of the Federal Transit Administration, Paul Gilmour of the Maritime Administration, and Constantine Sarkos of the Federal Aviation Administration were nominated for their contributions to public service.

The achievements of all three of these individuals are particularly exceptional, and I was impressed to hear not only about the contributions they have made to the country, but to the world...

PSRW banner

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The unmanned aircraft (UAS) industry is changing faster than any segment of the aviation industry.  So many bright minds are focused on advancing this technology.  People are finding new ways to use these devices on almost a daily basis.  And the energy I saw yesterday at the Unmanned Systems 2015 conference hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is proof of that.

That's why the AUVSI conference was the perfect spot to announce the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) next step to determine if and how we can safely expand unmanned aircraft operations in America: our Pathfinder research partnership with three leading U.S. companies.

These three companies --CNN, PrecisionHawk, and BNSF Railroad-- have committed extensive resources toward research that will help us expand the range of FAA-approved UAS operations in the next few years.  Their work will provide significant insight into how unmanned aircraft can be used to transform the way certain industries do business –whether that means reporting on a natural disaster, checking on the health of crops, or making sure trains run on time...

Photo of airborne drone

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Every year, thousands of Americans die or are seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes because they fail to wear safety belts.  Surprisingly, professional drivers who handle commercial motor vehicles every day are less likely than other drivers to buckle up.

That's why elementary school kids from around the country spent the winter creating art that urges truck and bus drivers to "Be Ready. Be Buckled."

Their colorful messages were part of the annual calendar art contest run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. And last Monday, Transportation Secretary Foxx congratulated this year's winners...

Art contest winner

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Today is National Bike to School Day!

As the national clearinghouse for the Federal Highway Administration that organizes registration for this event, we at the National Center for Safe Routes To School are truly amazed that the question isn’t, “Will Bike to School Day be a success?” but “How big will Bike to School Day be this year?”

Participation for Bike to School Day continues to grow, and it's all because of the enthusiasm and commitment of thousands of parents, school administrators, elected officials, students, and community leaders. The number of 2015 Bike to School Day registered events has already surpassed the number of 2014 events registered on www.walkbiketoschool.org.  In fact, as of this morning, we already have 2,377 events!  And that number is only expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout National Bike Month...

Bike to school day participation statistics over time

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With America's population expected to grow by 70 million over the next 30 years, moving the goods that enrich our lives --and the freight that fuels our economy-- will be a key challenge.  As our Beyond Traffic draft framework indicates, by 2045, the volume of goods on our roads, rail, air, and water will increase 45 percent or more.

Because tomorrow's looming increase will pose a significant burden on our transportation system, we must prepare to handle that freight now by developing and investing in solutions today.  The good news is that DOT is working to do just that.

Our Nation’s navigable waterways offer us a terrific, underused resource, and the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program works to incorporate that excess capacity into the U.S. transportation system --especially where marine transportation services present the most efficient and sustainable freight option. Continued development and investment along these 22 all-water Marine Highway Routes will provide more choices to shippers, help alleviate road and rail congestion, and accommodate future freight growth.

Just last week, Secretary Foxx designated three new marine highway projects aimed at making these waterborne routes seamless extensions of America’s transportation system and helping move us Beyond Traffic...

Barges on AMH

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Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of welcoming law enforcement trainers from across the county to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Training Center for our inaugural Large Truck and Bus Traffic Enforcement Train-the-Trainer course.

We designed this unique training specifically for our law enforcement partners.  Our goal is simple: We want all police officers trained to focus on commercial vehicle traffic enforcement.

This is just one piece of FMCSA’s broader efforts to reduce the number of fatalities on our roadways involving large trucks and buses...

Bus inspector

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We're now into the first full week of May, and that means it's National Bike Month, a celebration of transportation and recreation using pedal power.

Fast Lane readers might recall that this past January, I challenged city leaders to raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety by joining a year-long “Mayors' Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets.” In March, we launched the Challenge during a Mayors' Summit, and now participants are busy pursuing seven challenge activites designed to make biking and walking safer --and consequently a more realistic transportation option-- in their cities.

Across America, many communities have a full slate of events this month to help people make bicycling a more regular choice for transportation. 

Bike Month poster

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Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing a Final Rule that will enhance the safety of transporting flammable liquids –including crude oil and ethanol– by rail.

Secretary Foxx with Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt

We are in the midst of an unprecedented increase in North American energy production.  This boom in continental production has pushed America's dependence on foreign oil to a 40 year low, created jobs, and helped grow the U.S. and Canadian economies.

It also means that petroleum crude oil and ethanol are being shipped by rail in much larger quantities, and over much greater distances. In 2014, nearly 500,000 carloads containing more than 410 million barrels of Canadian and U.S. crude oil were transported by rail in the United States, and 99.9 percent reached their destination without incident. 

The accidents that have occurred, though –involving both crude and ethanol– have had significant and devastating consequences to local communities and the environment. They have shown us that 99.9 percent isn’t good enough. We have to strive for perfection, and today's rule moves us closer to that goal...

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The flying public scored a big win today with the completion of an air traffic system that will significantly improve air travel through every phase of flight.

Transportation Secretary Foxx and I were pleased to announce this morning that the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), a highly advanced computer system used by air traffic controllers to safely manage and separate aircraft, is now complete.

FAA Administrator Huerta at ERAM announcement

Looking at the future of air travel, we know that there will be more planes in our skies and more people in our airports. To meet this challenge we must integrate cutting-edge technology into our aviation system.  ERAM is a major step forward in our relentless efforts to develop and implement NextGen.  With this new technology, passengers will be able to get to their destinations, faster, safer, and have a smoother ride – all while burning less fuel to get there...

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Fast Lane readers have probably noticed that traffic congestion is on the rise because of higher volume on our roadways, which means more stress on pavements. And because one of the Federal Highway Administration’s primary goals is to ensure the nation’s highway system is maintained in a state of good repair, that means greater stress on our resources.

But the longer lasting pavement sought by our Long-Term Pavement Performance research program would help state and local DOTs to stretch their budgets. It would also mean fewer damaging potholes for drivers.

At FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, we have a machine that specifically helps us understand pavement durability. It’s called the Accelerated Load Facility, or the “ALF,” and it does just what the name suggests: it simulates the effects of many years of heavy traffic in just a few months...


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