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Today, I was pleased to join federal, state, and local officials to celebrate the opening of a state-of-the-art transit system that provides Central Connecticut residents with rapid transport to jobs, schools, and community services. CTfastrak will carry passengers almost 10 miles, between the state’s capitol and surrounding suburbs, opening new connections and ladders of opportunity for both the car-less and those who wish to leave their cars behind. For some, CTfastrak will provide their first convenient access to a full-scale grocery store.

CTfastrak buses run in an exclusive lane, offering fast trips primarily because they won’t compete with cars. The system also features off-site fare collection, level boarding platforms, and even wifi.  The electric hybrid buses, which are 90 percent cleaner than standard buses, will work a lot like light rail, but on rubber tires. Outside the window, hikers, bikers, and joggers will enjoy a new multi-use trail.

I was thrilled to join Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Representatives John Larson and Elizabeth Esty, and other State and local officials, for the inaugural ride from Hartford to New Britain. Federal transportation sources, including FTA, contributed 80 percent toward the project’s $567 million price tag.

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One of the trends anticipated in our Beyond Traffic study of the challenges we face in the next 30 years is an increase in extreme climate events. And when disaster strikes, natural or man-made, getting an accurate and timely assessment of critical infrastructure damage is critical for restoring the free flow of people and goods – and doing so safely.

Hurricane Sandy Damage in New Jersey

What if there was a way to get a bird’s eye view immediately after a disaster, but without putting ground crews in danger, and at a lower cost than using traditional aircraft surveillance? The first 24 hours following an earthquake, hurricane or tornado are critical in terms of damage assessment, and search and rescue. Further still, how can disaster response engineers capture and compare structures to what condition they were in prior to a disaster?

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If can be difficult – if not downright impossible – to board a bus when there’s sidewalk construction or snow or an illegally parked car or some other obstacle in the way. Now imagine that you’re in a wheelchair, or need other help getting around. You might expect, and will often find, that the bus driver will be able to make some reasonable accommodation, but that’s not always the case. To make sure everyone has equal access to public transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation has developed what we believe is a fair solution to address situations such as these.

Snow covered Boston transit stop
Snowy Boston metro stop.                                                IMAGE VIA TRACY MARSHALL ON TWITTER

We recently published a Final Rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible.  It applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride, and complementary paratransit services. 

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It is not news to Fast Lane readers that – come May 31st – federal funding for transportation will expire, right at the start of construction season.

This crisis, our readers know, is not new, either. It’s six years – and 32-short term funding measures – in the making.

On top of that, for more than a decade now, federal transportation funding has been stuck at a level below what is needed to merely keep the transportation infrastructure we have in good shape.

Well, on Monday, I met with the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) Cities of Opportunity Task Force: two dozen mayors who, like us, want to see real change happen in transportation.

From left: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at a Cities of Opportunity Task Force meeting in Boston. Courtesy of U.S. Conference of Mayors/@usmayors.

Led by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the task force was asked by USCM President Kevin Johnson to find ways to reduce income inequality in America’s cities and metros. To do this, Johnson has said, requires building a “community and economy that works for everyone.” And to do that, we know, requires cities to invest in transportation systems that leave no one behind. 

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Yesterday, I moderated a panel discussion of business leaders and policy wonks, including my friend, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado.

The venue? The Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA Conference.

The topic of discussion? How to bring more private sector dollars to America’s streets – and also bridges, waterways, airports, subways, and rails.

This is a photo of Secretary Foxx at the Department of Commerce SelectUSA conference

Fastlane readers know that our transportation system is screaming for more investment. The United States is on track to underinvest in transportation by about one trillion dollars by the end of the decade, and this is happening at a time when demand for transportation is increasing. America will be home to 70 million more people by 2045, and we will have to move 45 percent more freight.

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Spring means warmer weather, orange cones and more highway workers on America’s roads. As construction season approaches, drivers nationwide should “Expect the Unexpected” – this year’s theme for National Work Zone Awareness Week. The victims of work zone crashes are typically drivers and their passengers, not highway workers, but all need to be kept safe during the construction and repair-heavy summer months.

I had the opportunity to speak to families affected by work zone crashes today at the National Work Zone Awareness Week kickoff in Arlington, Va. Though the number of work zone fatalities is decreasing, it was heart wrenching to acknowledge that, each year, we are still losing loved ones in work zone crashes.

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Last week, the venerable news outlet, The Onion, wrote that, "Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx reportedly became consumed with fear Tuesday that the American populace might suddenly decide not to travel anywhere ever again."

Well we at USDOT can reassure you that "America's finest news source," as The Onion bills itself, was only half-right.

While it's true that Secretary Foxx is concerned about the American people traveling in the future, none of us at USDOT are worried they might decide not to travel. Instead, we are worried about how Americans are going to get where they need to go when we do travel.

That's why we launched our study, "Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices," which examines the challenges we'll face in the next 30 years. And that's why we've invited you to share your ideas for solving those challenges and keeping our country moving forward.

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Do you have what it takes to join our team?  Starting Monday, March 23, the Federal Aviation Administration will start accepting applications for new Air Traffic Controllers to fill positions across the United States through at least March 28, 2015.

The Air Traffic Control Specialist’s job isn’t just any other day in the office. It's a career where you’ll have the chance to save lives through proactive approaches to aviation safety. You’ll also operate new procedures that enhance efficiency and emissions, which help protect our environment.

This is the most exciting time in FAA’s history.  We operate the busiest and most complex airspace system in the world, and decisions we’re making today will shape aviation for decades to come...

Photo of air traffic controller at work

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When parents buckle their children into car seats they need to trust that their seat will protect as promised. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fights to keep car seats and other products with safety-related defects off our nation's roads.

Today, we’ve acted again to fine a company that failed to report a safety-related defect to NHTSA as required by law. And we’re doing so in a way that doesn’t just punish bad behavior, but also makes American children safer...

Photo of Graco child safety seat

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Yesterday, I sat down with my friend, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, at the National Journal’s Forum on infrastructure.

Here in Washington, DC, you don’t often see a duo like us –a Democratic member of the Cabinet, and a Republican member of Congress– on the same stage, let alone on the same side of an issue.  But crisis has a way of bringing people together, and a crisis is what we have...

Photo of Foxx, Shuster from National Journal infrastructure event
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (left), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (center), and moderator Steve Clemons appeared at a National Journal infrastructure event March 19. Courtesy of Kristoffer Tripplaar / National Journal.
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