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Even before the large gathering took their seats to discuss perspectives on next steps for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women in Transportation initiative, there was tremendous energy in the room. 

On behalf of Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the White House Council on Women and Girls, I am happy to report that this enthusiasm is translating into policy action.  This session brought together an inspiring and accomplished group of women and men from across the transportation sector that is focused on achieving real results.  We were fortunate to have participation by senior White House officials – Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President, Chief of Staff to the First Lady, and Executive Director for the Council on Women and Girls opened the event; Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, brought this great event to a close.

Group photo of APEC panel, moderator and Susan Kurland

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Just as a new house needs a strong foundation and basic systems to make it functional, so too does the new Federal Transit Administration (FTA) safety program. We’ve taken a major step in that direction today by issuing a proposed rule that would create the overall framework for FTA to monitor, oversee, and enforce safety in the public transit industry.

This is an important milestone because transit ridership is at its highest levels in generations, and our nation’s transit agencies are facing increased pressure to meet the demand for service.

The proposed rule would formally establish the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the foundation of FTA’s new safety oversight authority. SMS is successfully used in the space, aviation, chemical, and other industries.  In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) characterizes SMS as a “Most Wanted” practice for public transportation because of its flexibility and effectiveness across organizations with differing physical and financial environments.

In other words, SMS is exactly the right safety approach to address the diversity of the public transit industry...

DART train station in Dallas

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Cross-posted from the August 12, 2015, Lincoln Journal Star.
Learn more about the Senator and Secretary working together.

Whether traversing through deep-water ports, over winding railroads or in the back of a long-haul truck, consumer products travel across the world before reaching the shelves of local markets in Lincoln and throughout Nebraska. Transportation fuels our economy.

Investing in our transportation infrastructure is vital to our nation’s economic health and global competitiveness. By doing so, we strengthen safety and commerce, and, in the process, create good, well-paying jobs for hardworking people in Nebraska and elsewhere. After all, nearly 12 million Americans work in transportation-related jobs.

The federal government must provide state and local policymakers with the right tools to maintain and update our infrastructure or build new projects. Unfortunately, Congress has relied on 34 short-term extensions since 2009, disrupting major infrastructure projects and causing stress for road builders, local officials and the traveling public. We can and should do better...

Official photos of Senator Fischer and Secretary Foxx
U.S. Senator Deb Fisher (R-Nebraska) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
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What happens when a busy port opens a new $27.5 million, 650-foot marine cargo dock and storage yard? When we're talking about the Port of Brownsville, Texas, that investment significantly boosts its capacity and capability, allowing the port to compete more effectively with major domestic and foreign counterparts in the Gulf of Mexico region.

The Port of Brownsville already generates $2 billion in annual economic activity for the State of Texas.  But port leaders understand that the future of freight is a future of dramatically expanding shipping volumes and an increasingly competitive global economy.  Their plans to face the challenges and opportunities of the future with a state-of-the-art dock and storage yard garnered the support of a $12 million DOT TIGER grant, and last Friday I joined Federal, State and local officials at the Port to mark the opening of the new facilities.

But this TIGER grant will help accomplish a lot more than increased capacity.  As an emerging regional trade hub and home to several of our Nation’s vessel recyclers, the Brownsville maritime industry is a major South Texas job creator.  The industry directly employs more than 1,200 Texans and produces commercial activity that energizes maritime-related and –linked industries, generating additional jobs in other sectors of the economy.  With the addition of this TIGER-funded dock and storage yard, we are proud to be contributing to the creation of even more employment opportunities for the Lone Star State...

Port of Brownsville ribbon-cutting

Continue Reading DOT TIGER on the Loose at ››
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Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been working hard to support communities across the country as they adapt the planning, development, and management of their transportation assets for greater resilience in the face of climate change.  And earlier today, I kicked off a workshop to share tools and resources to help states, transit agencies, and local communities do just that. 

This was an important workshop –more than 50 people attended in person with another 400 joining us onlineand it comes at an important time in the history of transportation in the U.S...

U.S. Highway 90 Biloxi Bay Bridge after Katrina in 2005
U.S. Highway 90 bridge over Biloxi Bay after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Continue Reading DOT Helps States, Local ››
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It's time to cue the balloons and streamers, because today marks an exciting milestone here at DOT: the 10th anniversary of the Federal Safe Routes to School Program!

On August 10, 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). This legislation established our Safe Routes to School program and ushered in a decade of working to create safer, more active routes to school.

Safe Routes programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities in school communities that improve safety and accessibility.  When Safe Routes was created, the late Congressman Jim Oberstar, a champion of including Safe Routes in SAFETEA-LU, said, “The Safe Routes to School Program is giving us the opportunity to change the habits of an entire generation to ensure that healthy children grow to be healthy adults.”

This was a bold prediction, but I’m happy to report that he was absolutely right...

Secretary Foxx at a Safe Routes event

Continue Reading Hip Hip Hooray! Safe Routes ››
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Rarely does DOT miss an opportunity to focus our transportation investments where they can boost local economic development.

Our funding commitments to America’s infrastructure are about more than throughput.  They pay off for individual residents who gain improved access to jobs, education, and other services even while they also boost economic growth in the community at large. From construction jobs during the building phase to more permanent jobs created when companies invest locally because of improved transportation, the taxpayer dollars we invest in infrastructure pay our nation back several times over in the economic activity these projects stimulate.

We have a long list of transportation projects to get done just in the deferred maintenance area alone, to say nothing of investing in increased capacity that stimulates development through improved access for businesses to markets, customers, and employees...

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Excavation damage remains a leading cause of serious pipeline incidents that cause death, injury, and property damage. In fact, between 1988 and 2014, 1,815 pipeline incidents caused by excavation damage resulted in 193 deaths, 757 injuries, and nearly $545 million in property damage.

As you prepare to tackle summer projects that require digging –like gardening or installing a new fence– are you including a call to 811 in your plans? Whether you use a rototiller or a shovel to do your dirty work, calling 811 at least two days before digging is required by law in all 50 states...

8-1-1 Day web banner

Continue Reading Do You Know What’s Below? ››
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Small businesses embody the American dream of seizing opportunities. They represent innovation at its best. They’re the heart of the American economy.

I experienced this personally when I was the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, and most of the community’s businesses were small. In many ways, what I learned then is still relevant: leaders in government need to proactively reach out to small businesses and forge connections.

Yes, we want to make sure that small business owners aren't missing out on potential opportunities that could lead to expansion and new hires. But, we also want to make sure that we’re not missing out on what they offer, either. We want to make sure we’re tapping into their expertise.

DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization pursues those two outcomes every day. And the Small Business Day they held here at DOT's DC Headquarters yesterday is just the most recent example of that pursuit...

Photo of Secretary Foxx speaking at Small Business Day

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Last month at NHTSA, we brought together many of our safety partners to discuss how we might better protect children when they ride school buses.

Today, thankfully, school buses are the safest way for children to get around. On average each year, four school-age children lost their lives in bus crashes from 2000 to 2012. Contrast that with the 490 school-age children killed in passenger vehicle crashes over that same time period and you begin to understand why parents can feel confident in their children’s safety when they get on the big yellow bus.

That said, NHTSA doesn’t accept that we have to lose any children in school bus tragedies—not a single one—and we brought experts together to ask tough questions about whether --and how-- we can make school bus travel even safer...

The big yellow bus

Continue Reading Taking School Bus Safety to ››
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