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At DOT, we see that innovative ideas and new technologies are offering us an opportunity to improve safety in all modes of transportation. 

We also know that the U.S. aviation industry is on the leading edge of generating many of these new technologies and products. In recent years, manufacturers have developed robust and increasingly affordable products that can offer pilots sophisticated weather information and increased situational awareness, along with other safety devices such as seatbelts with built-in airbags.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time talking about how government must work hard to keep up with innovation coming out of the private sector. Both DOT and FAA are mindful of the fact that technology is moving at a pace that requires the government to adopt a fresh, agile, forward-looking regulatory framework to accommodate the industry’s efforts to incorporate the latest technologies into its products.

This is especially important when it comes to aviation. We have the largest and most diverse general aviation community in the world and its overall health is vital to the U.S. economy.

small airplane

Continue Reading Proposed Rule Streamlines ››
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Summary: Yesterday, DOT announced that $2 billion in unspent earmarks can be freed up for states to use for new investments in infrastructure. This is an important milestone in ending the use of earmarks and investing in U.S. infrastructure – but more remains to be done. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that roughly $2 billion can be freed up for states to use for rebuilding our nation’s transportation system. All of this funding was previously unspent “earmarks” that were more than a decade old, so yesterday’s action takes potentially wasteful pork barrel spending stuffed into transportation bills by Congress and puts it to good use. Instead of sitting idle, these funds will now be available to help improve our infrastructure, keep drivers safe, and provide opportunities for communities nationwide.

These steps build on actions that began in the earliest days of the Obama Administration, when the President worked together with Congress to change the way that business is done in Washington - by increasing transparency and accountability for the way that taxpayer dollars are spent, including helping end transportation earmarks.  Today, those efforts are yielding real results.  Clearing out this legacy backlog of earmarks frees up stranded dollars to repave roads, fix bridges, or build new interchanges, which will create jobs and lay the foundations for long-term economic growth. Yesterday's action also builds on a similar action taken in August 2012, when USDOT made over $470 million in unspent earmarks immediately available to states for projects that create jobs and help improve transportation across the country.

Road workers

Continue Reading Putting infrastructure ››
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As March 8 is International Women’s Day, I’d like to highlight a number of women in aviation who are making a real difference in our field.

But first, it's worth mentioning that the Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference takes place later this week in Nashville. WAI has a partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to support each other’s respective missions, and I've borrowed this year's WAI theme --Connect. Engage. Inspire.-- to frame my examples...

Bessie Coleman 1922

Continue Reading Women in Aviation: Connect ››
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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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