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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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This week, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics --part of our Office of Research and Technology-- released the 2014 North American freight numbers.

As often happens with transportation data, there are many different stories emerging from the BTS spreadsheets. But, one story rings out loud and clear: A lot of freight --$1.2 trillion worth in 2014-- is moving into and out of the U.S. across our northern and southern borders...

Pie chart depicting frieght value by mode of transportation

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With our nation’s population expected to expand by 70 million over the next 30 years, our ability to move people and goods will be challenged as we've never seen before. This is just one of the trends anticipated in Beyond Traffic, our outline of the choices confronting our transportation system in the next three decades.

For example, Jacksonville, Florida, is the most populous city in Florida and one of the most populous in the U.S.  And, it’s growing.  The city is also home to several U.S. Navy facilities, as well as a large community of retired veterans, active-duty personnel, and their families. As Jacksonville is also the largest city in the U.S. in terms of the area it covers, we can add to its challenges the task of moving people over relatively long urban distances.

One of the solutions Jacksonville is undertaking is Bus Rapid Transit. BRT offers faster, more frequent service by giving buses signal priority, providing passengers with real-time information, and requiring riders to pay their fares at kiosks before boarding...

Photo of Jax BRT

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Because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is charged with reducing the number and severity of crashes involving large trucks and buses, we continually work to develop and deploy new safety enforcement tools. Ultimately, those tools serve to help protect every traveler on our highways and roads. 

Photo of inspector using QCMobileI’ve observed highly trained commercial motor vehicle inspectors working at roadside weigh stations, and I can attest that it is not always easily and immediately apparent to distinguish by sight alone which trucks and buses and drivers may be operating in violation of our safety regulations. While State and Federal inspectors already use customized software to access national safety databases that help prioritize carriers and drivers for inspections, thanks to the advent of smartphones and cloud computing, we’re now able to make a generational leap in technology.   

Today, we’re unveiling a new app called QCMobile (the "QC" stands for “Query Central”) that provides inspectors --wherever they're working-- more convenient access to motor carrier safety information...

Continue Reading We’ve got an app for that! ››
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Secretary Foxx’s draft framework for the future of transportation, Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices, outlines the dramatic challenges the American transportation network will face over the next 30 years. While this study stops short of prescribing solutions —that's where your ideas come in— it does recognize that technology will play an important role.

That role was much on my mind recently, when I watched a robotic bridge inspection. The RABIT™ combines a number of advanced imaging technologies to give inspectors more accurate information about a bridge deck's overall health. This technological innovation has the potential to propel bridge inspections decades into the future.  In a nation with more than 600,000 bridges, it's easy to see how the RABIT™ can make a difference.

The particular inspection I observed occurred on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, between Virginia and the nation’s capital, but the Federal Highway Administration is helping to deploy this valuable tool all around the country...

Photo of RABIT device
The shape of bridge inspection to come?
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America’s maritime strength depends upon U.S. merchant mariners who serve aboard ocean-going commercial, sealift, and military vessels.  That’s why the Maritime Administration (MARAD) places such a high priority on education at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point (USMMA) and why MARAD also provides strong support and guidance to the six state maritime academies in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Texas. 

Together, these institutions educate and train our future merchant mariners for good careers that also benefit our country.

Recently, I joined the cadets at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.  I am always eager to talk with our next generation of mariners, the proud young men and women who will one day help power American prosperity at sea.  As a mariner, I understand the dedication and hard work required to achieve a bachelor’s degree and a Merchant Mariner’s license – for some, two licenses.  That’s why it was so rewarding to talk one-on-one with the Cadets and learn about their experiences like training at sea onboard the GOLDEN BEAR, a beautiful vessel provided to Cal Maritime by MARAD...

Photo of Deputy Administrator Rodriguez in the Cal Maritime mess hall

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Last month, we launched Beyond Traffic, our assessment of American transportation and some of the difficult challenges we'll face in the future. The point was not to publish this draft framework and move on. Instead, we wanted to jump-start a national conversation and draw out your ideas about how we can keep America moving in the decades to come.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have downloaded Beyond Traffic from the DOT website, far more than I ever expected.

Despite that impressive start, we are not declaring victory--not even close. Because we still need to hear from you.

That's why, beginning tomorrow and continuing for the next two weeks, we're hosting five different web sessions, each focused on a different theme of the Beyond Traffic Framework. These webinars will outline our five Beyond Traffic topics and help elicit your ideas on each topic.

And if the webinars don't get your ideas flowing, this Thursday, House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster and I will jointly keynote a session hosted by the National Journal on the future of America's infrastructure...

Beyond Traffic logo

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America's mayors are busy people. They are on the front lines of providing citizens the municipal services they expect from their local government. So when mayors, elected officials, and other local leaders take time away from that duty --as they did yesterday-- to attend the Mayors Summit for Safer People and Safer Streets here at DOT's Washington, DC, headquarters, they're making a positive choice...and a clear statement.

Together, as 180 communities of different size, different geography, and different constituents, they're making a collective statement that improving safety on our streets for everyone who uses them --and particularly for the most vulnerable-- is a national priority. As Mayor Tim Dougherty of Morristown, NJ, said yesterday, "It's like with seat belts and distracted driving; if you hammer at it long enough and loud enough, people understand that this will save lives."

And individually, they're making an explicit statement that improving safety --by pursuing the seven activities of DOT's Mayor's Challenge-- will be a local priority for the foreseeable future...

Victor Mendez delivers opening remarks at the Mayors' Summit
Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez welcomes participants to the Mayors' Summit.
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When she was a baby, you put her in a car seat. In a few years, you’ll insist she buckle up when behind the wheel. Today, however, she’s a tween; she’s tired of hearing mom and dad nag her about wearing her seat belt. And you’re a little tired of saying it.

But this is the fight worth having. Your tween’s life is at stake.

And that’s why DOT and NHTSA have launched our “Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up” campaign...

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About 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical appointments every year because they lack a ride to the doctor. Given that America’s population is aging, and about half of us live with at least one chronic condition, getting regular health care is more important than ever.

Creating and supporting communities that are age-friendly allows older adults to age in place and supports their continued health and vitality. Soon, the White House Conference on Aging expects to issue a policy brief on Healthy Aging that explores these concerns as well as potential solutions.

And "Ride to Wellness," a program to make sure people can get a ride to the healthcare they need, is a great step toward addressing these needs...

Man in wheelchair being helped aboard transit vehicle

Continue Reading Healthy aging? FTA's ››
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