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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...


Continue Reading Researching Ways to Keep ››
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For a very long time, transportation planners have measured the success of our transportation network by looking at its hardware: How many cars can travel across a road and how fast? How often buses do arrive and are they on schedule? What is the pavement condition and how quickly is it deteriorating?

And while these measures are valuable, they ignore the end users of our system —the people.  Every day, millions of Americans use our transportation system to reach jobs, schools, healthcare, shopping, friends, and family. How long it takes and how much it costs them to accomplish these daily tasks is an important measure that we call connectivity

Connectivity measures how well the transportation network connects people to the places they need to go. And last Monday, DOT hosted more than 75 State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), transit agencies, national associations, researchers, and other federal agencies to talk about the importance of connectivity in their daily work...

Map showing Equitable Target Areas

Continue Reading DOT Connectivity Roundtable ››
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Every day, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration works to identify and force the recall of vehicles and products with safety-related defects to protect the American people from harm. In 2014, NHTSA's work led to 803 recalls involving 63.9 million vehicles—the highest number of vehicle recalls in more than three decades. The year also saw two of the ten largest recalls in history.

Over the last several months, we’ve been improving how we identify vehicle defects. But it’s not enough to just identify defects —protecting the public means ensuring that those defects are remedied. Yet, today, 20 percent or more of recalled vehicles go unrepaired, and that poses its own safety challenge.

Remedying recalls is a collaborative effort, so yesterday at DOT Headquarters, we brought together all of the players —manufacturers, dealers, automotive safety advocates, and others— to brainstorm around the best ideas. Recent high-profile recalls have taught us important lessons about the obstacles to higher completion rates, and we brought everyone to the table to help spread those lessons and develop new approaches to the recall process...

Secretary Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind at Retooling Recalls workshop

Continue Reading Retooling Recalls: NHTSA ››
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If you're not a datahead, you might have missed this news.  Last month, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that, "U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the United States carried an all-time high of 848.1 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in 2014."

Sure, 848 million is a lot of passengers, and more often than not, that would be interesting enough.  But today we want to go one better than the absolute number of enplanements; we want to talk about the "all-time high."  Because the previous record high was reached in 2007, and that means that, after the brutal recession, air travel --and the economy-- are truly back.

Want to see the relationship between economic activity and air travelers without pesky numbers getting in the way?  Thanks to BTS, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and a little spreadsheet wizardry, you can:

Air passengers and GDP by year

Continue Reading Record 2014 airline ››
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Fast Lane readers know that we've been talking about the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA surface transportation proposal since we sent it to Congress last month.  But a lot of Americans don't know what GROW does and why this nation needs it.  So today, we've got a fresh out of the box explainer video to share.

If passed by Congress, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide 6 years of transportation funding certainty, increase investment in our transportation system, and implement smart policies that ensure taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.

We think those long-overdue benefits are worth 101 seconds of your time, and we hope you'll agree...

Continue Reading New video answers key GROW ››
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Maritime history plays a central role in our national narrative, and DOT has a responsibility to protect and promote this rich legacy.  That’s why the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to use proceeds from MARAD’s Federal Ship Disposal Program to support the .  And today, MARAD and NPS announced the award of $2.6 million for 35 maritime heritage preservation and education projects.

Our agencies established this partnership to promote public awareness and appreciation for the Nation’s maritime heritage, and the projects we're awarding this year are exactly what we envisioned in 2013 when we entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service...

Photo of 1889 tugboat Arhtur Foss

Continue Reading Maritime history woven ››
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As readers probably know, Wednesday was our 45th Earth Day celebration. Earth Day offers all of us us an opportunity to showcase our nation’s efforts to protect the planet. For those of us in transportation, it’s also a chance to celebrate the Earth-friendly transportation planning practices going on in all corners of the United States.

So we at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) used the occasion to announce our latest Environmental Excellence Awards, FHWA’s highest honor for those committed to protecting the environment through state-of-the-art transportation-related innovation.

This year’s winners have three things in common: creativity, passion, and imagination. And these qualities fueled their cutting-edge advances in environmental sensitivity and helped strengthen the balance between humans and nature without sacrificing mobility...

FHWA environmental award logo

Continue Reading FHWA Celebrates ››
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Earth Day offers all of us an opportunity to consider how the decisions we make today affect not only the quality of our air, land, and water, but also our quality of life. Our nation’s mix of transportation options, and how we keep them running, will help determine whether our nation can maintain that quality of life even as our population and our economy grow.

The essence of sustainability is making decisions today that will allow our nation to continue growing in the future while also preserving our quality of life.

And as “Beyond Traffic” makes clear, there are urgent reasons to make sustainability our byword and transit a key part of achieving that goal...

Non-diesel transit bus

Continue Reading Expanding transit options ››
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Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart —and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

I have seen the truth of this first-hand in my own family and as mayor of Charlotte, and I've been seeing it for the past two years as Secretary of Transportation.

Now, we can't give everyone a new car, of course. But we can help communities build projects that create ladders of opportunity.

Which means we can support them as they design and build projects in a way that connects people to job centers and to education, that revitalizes economically distressed neighborhoods, and that creates pathways to good jobs...

Secretary Foxx announces LadderStep in Indianapolis
Photo courtesy Sean Northup, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Continue Reading DOT helping cities build a ››
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If you've been reading the Fast Lane this week, then you already know about the Maritime Administration's work to reduce the emissions of waterborne shipping and NHTSA's continued effort to pursue rigorous CAFE standards for both light and heavy vehicles on America's roadways.

For me, Earth Day is a reminder of how proud I am to lead a Federal agency that has as part of its mission reducing the footprint of our transportation system even while we work to make it safer and more efficient...

Continue Reading Every day must be Earth Day ››
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