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With President Obama’s signature on the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, state and local transit agencies now have $305 billion to improve the nation’s public transportation systems over the next 5 years. The Act also increases Buy America requirements to 70 percent (previously 60 percent), which will boost American manufacturing.

J.M.A. logoFounded in 2013, Jobs to Move America (JMA) is a national project that is working to ensure transit investments like those provided by the FAST Act will “go the distance” by creating good manufacturing jobs in the United States for local and historically underrepresented communities, including women, people of color, persons with disabilities, veterans, and people with convictions who need a second chance.

Last week, JMA helped organize a series of activities in Washington, DC, to highlight the job-creating potential of the FAST Act and related initiatives.  On December 8, 2015, JMA joined University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) economists to release a new study, Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies. This first of its kind study finds that policies like the FAST Act’s increase in Buy America requirements can support tens of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.  The study also finds that much more is needed because the U.S. has lost five million manufacturing jobs in recent years. 

To advocate for a proactive job creation program by public agencies across the US, we brought 11 bus and railcar manufacturing workers from 6 states to join one of the UMass report's coauthors, Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics, on Capitol Hill to release the study and to convey a strong message to Congress: Manufacturing jobs change lives and communities, especially when they pay well and provide training and support for careers...

Continue Reading FAST Act provisions set to ››
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When the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assumed temporary direct safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system in October, one of my top priorities was to ensure we are transparent in our goals and activities. 

The federal government has never before taken on direct safety oversight of a public transit system. That’s why it’s important for WMATA passengers and employees and the rail transit industry to understand what we are doing and why.

Metrorail train inspection

First and foremost, although we are directly supervising WMATA's progress, the responsibility for performing the actual work of making Metrorail and Metrobus safer still sits squarely on WMATA...

Continue Reading Making FTA WMATA Safety ››
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Cover of F.H.W.A. Bike-Ped Case Studies reportIn 2014, DOT unveiled Safer People, Safer Streets, a significant effort to address bike and pedestrian safety issues nationwide and help communities create safer, better-connected non-motorized networks.  The Federal Highway Administration has been a strong contributor to this initiative, working with safety advocates, planners, and state and local DOTs to conduct safety assessments and develop strategies to improve travel for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Last week, we launched our latest step in this initiative, Case Studies in Delivering Safe, Comfortable, and Connected Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks

For Case Studies, FHWA Division Offices gathered examples of bike-ped network improvement projects initiated by State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), counties, cities, and other entities to get a better sense of what communities are achieving. Those 86 examples –21 regional, 6 statewide, and 59 local– were categorized into several key project types, including planning and prioritization, shared use paths, corridor improvements, bridges, on-road facilities, intersections, and crossing improvements...

Continue Reading Communities Helping ››
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Residents of the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma rely on transit buses for many of their transportation needs, from getting to work to seeing a doctor. Cherokee tribal residents are such dedicated patrons of their rural bus system that they boosted ridership a whopping 114 percent between 2013 and 2014. The tribe now counts some 80,000 bus rides a year.

Cherokee Nation transit vehicle

The Cherokee Nation, which received a $92,500 grant to purchase eight clean fuel buses, is one of 55 tribes that received 2015 funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Tribal Transit Program this month.  Cherokee tribal leaders set a great example for customer service-oriented transit services. They use online surveys to determine routing. They stay in touch with residents using an e-mail database of 8,000 contacts. They present at community meetings and run newspaper ads. All of that work undoubtedly paid off in the dramatic ridership increase.

The Cherokee Nation grant was part of a total of $10 million awarded nationwide in Tribal Transit discretionary grants, which fund the buses and vans that connect tribal residents with jobs, education, healthcare, and other vital services. This year, funds went to 65 projects in 18 states, providing tribal communities, most of them located far from population centers, with their only access to public transportation...

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One of the ways DOT serves the American public is by working with small businesses to find new ways to improve our nation’s roadways. Our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program encourages small businesses to explore potential solutions to transportation challenges.

In 2009, we solicited research on a topic sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): to develop a new pavement that could generate power and transfer it to the power grid. The SBIR Phase I submission had to meet the following requirements:

  • Use recycled material;
  • Withstand traffic loads; and
  • Be durable enough to avoid costly replacement cycles.

In response to this solicitation, Solar Roadways, Inc., began proof-of-concept work. Their proposal: self-sustaining pavement, made from hexagon-shaped solar panels. If successful, this pavement could potentially eliminate the current practice of replacing asphalt, and ultimately transform the nation’s roadways into an intelligent pavement system...

Solar roadway panels
Solar roadway panels feature LED lights which can "paint" the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving.
Continue Reading New Pavement System... ››
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In late October, I set an ambitious goal for our Federal Aviation Administration: to create and launch a registration system for unmanned aircraft before Christmas this year. And today, I'm pleased to write that the FAA has reached a critical milestone toward delivering on this goal.

Earlier this morning, we announced a rulemaking that will create a simple and easy online registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds. This registration system was created by gathering input from a task force that included government stakeholders and representatives from across the aviation, technology, retail, and user communities.

Under this new rule, anyone who bought a small unmanned aircraft before December 21 of this year must register by February 19, 2016. Those who purchase their aircraft after December 21, must register it before their first outdoor flight...

unmanned aircraft aloft

Continue Reading FAA rolls out UAS ››
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In last year's Best Places to Work in Federal Government rankings, DOT earned the 8th spot among the 19 "Large Agencies," and our Federal Highway Administration also took the 8th spot among the nearly 300 "Agency Subcomponents." A year later, the Department has maintained its position and FHWA also remains a top performer, placing 13th among the now 320 sub-agencies. And, among the 75 agencies organized by mission, the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) placed 8th in the Energy and Environment category.

And, while we're pleased with our relative standing --and so proud of FHWA's performance among such a large competition pool-- we're also pleased with our improvement in the employee satisfaction scores that generate those rankings.

The Department as a whole raised our score 2.7 points. And in the "Agency Subcomponent" category we had a number of significant jumps, with both our Office of the Inspector General as well as PHMSA increasing by 5.3 points and our Federal Aviation Administration up 3.7 points...

Best Places to Work logo

Continue Reading DOT, FHWA continue to rank ››
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Earlier this week, Jacksonville, Florida, a heavily transit-dependent community, opened the first segment of its First Coast Flyer bus rapid transit system (BRT).  The Green Line, one of five First Coast Flyer phases, now offers service from the Rosa Parks Transit Station near Jacksonville’s downtown north to Interstate-295.

Fast Lane readers might remember that it was little more than a year ago when Secretary Foxx was in Jacksonville for the groundbreaking of the Flyer’s first phase of Downtown Improvements, funded in part by our Federal Transit Administration.  And, it was only March of this year that the FTA and Jacksonville Transit Authority finalized a second grant, Small Starts funding for the now-open Green Line corridor, officially the Flyer’s second phase.

No sooner had the Green Line opened on Monday when the FTA added $19.1 million in Small Starts funding for the Flyer’s third phase, the Southeast Corridor...

Continue Reading As Jacksonville opens one ››
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When disaster strikes, transportation provides a lifeline to recovering communities.  The irony is that the very highways and bridges relied upon can also be the ones destroyed by extreme weather events.  People need them to get back to their daily lives and regain a sense of normalcy, and business owners need them so they can continue to operate.

However, the scale of a disaster can overwhelm a state's resources. That’s why the promise of federal relief to help restore transportation is so important.

The $410 million announced last week under the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program will reimburse 33 states and one US territory for restoring transportation links.  The relief spans the Nation from California to New York and includes national parks, forests, and other federal lands...

Bridge wash-out, Texas

Continue Reading Emergency Relief from FHWA ››
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The data in FHWA’s annual Highway Statistics show a record-high 214.3 million licensed drivers in the US in 2014, including 95.9 million who are of age 50 or older.  These figures support DOT's Beyond Traffic study, which predicts a 77-percent increase among drivers over age 65 by 2045. What’s more, drivers who are 85 or older increased by 2.9 percent from 2013 to 2014; they remain the nation’s fastest growing demographic group among licensed drivers.

As America’s driving population ages, resources addressing the needs of those drivers become increasingly important. And now --just in time for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week-- the Roadway Safety Foundation, with support from the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has launched the Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS) at www.roadsafeseniors.org.

Staying active and connected with friends, family, and neighbors can promote the healthy aging we all deserve. ChORUS was developed with this ultimate goal in mind, and with the knowledge that achieving it will require the efforts of a broad range of stakeholders...

Screenshot of Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety website www.roadsafeseniors.org

Continue Reading Clearinghouse for Older ››
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