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Why talk transportation with a roomful of real estate folks?  Because the men and women gathered for the 2015 LOCUS National Leadership Summit this week are committed to place-making, to the kind of smart growth that creates livable development.  And because the kind of places that LOCUS members are trying to make need transportation. They need safe ways to walk; they need transit access; and they need the jobs and investment transportation brings. 

LOUCS summit

I've said repeatedly that transportation should not create division; it should be the solution to past divisions.  We've had a historic approach that emphasizes throughput --speeding people from one community through, over, or around another community-- usually by building a highway that actually isolates local residents from the jobs and other activities in a downtown business district.

We need a policy that emphasizes connection --for everyone. The members of LOCUS understand this.  That's why they've become our partners in LadderSTEP...

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A motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than a collision involving another motor vehicle. And, more than half of all car-rail collisions occur at railroad crossings equipped with active warning devices such as flashing lights and gates.

Let all that sink in before your next trip traveling where roads and rails cross.

Rail crossing safety in the U.S. is a challenge as old as the rail lines that began converging with roads in the 19th Century, but it's a challenge that can be improved by making travelers more aware. That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation’s railroad, transit and highway agencies are teaming up with Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), to save lives by helping to fund OLI’s “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign. 

OLI unveiled its latest video public service announcement today --International Level Crossing Awareness Day-- when more than 40 countries worldwide conduct public awareness efforts to promote safety at railroad crossings...

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In April, I announced the launch of the seventh round of our TIGER discretionary grant program.  The 2015 TIGER program will make $500 million available for innovative and transformative transportation projects across the country.

Once again, the overwhelming demand for TIGER grants reflects the widespread need for additional resources to fund needed projects across the country. The Department received more than 950 pre-applications to fund transformative and innovative capital projects. Applicants are requesting nearly $14.5 billion in federal funds. 

That's 29 times the amount available...

TIGER funded transit project

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Take a moment to envision a transportation super center –one facility connecting rail and road to a thriving port– that builds the local economy and adds to the national economy while supporting long-term, good-paying jobs.  Working hand in hand with state and Federal partners, the Port of Duluth–Superior is making that idea a concrete reality with the Duluth Intermodal Project.

Last week, I was on site at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority as they broke ground on this ambitious project that will help ensure the port’s future.  Supported by a $10 million TIGER grant, along with funds from the State of Minnesota and Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the Duluth Intermodal Project is real innovation in action. 

Thorough planning by port leadership coupled with partnered investment will rebuild two docks and connect them to rail and road corridors to better meet the 45 percent increase in domestic freight volume that we know must be moved by 2045...


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Since 1932, the Arlington Memorial Bridge has been a stunner.  Its classical appearance, with a series of arches spanning the Potomac River and monumental statuary on both ends, conveys strength.  That's no accident; the bridge was designed to demonstrate national unity.  It also connects two of the most-treasured sites in the National Capital region, the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, significant reminders of America's rich heritage.

But when Federal Highway Administration engineers found that the steel beams supporting the bridge were corroding quicker than expected and could not be guaranteed to meet the bridge's load, we had no choice but to begin emergency repairs last Friday, shutting down two lanes for at least the next 6 months and forcing drivers to choose gridlock or find alternate routes in a region already choked by traffic.

Now, instead of a bridge symbolizing national unity, the Arlington Memorial Bridge symbolizes a different national trend: For 6 years now, Congress has been patching together our transportation and putting off the real repairs and improvements our nation's roads and bridges so badly need.  Thirty-three short-term actions, zero long-term solutions.  So we gathered at Memorial Bridge to say, simply, enough is enough...

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This week in Pittsburgh, the Intelligent Transportation Society America holds its 25th Annual Meeting.  And, while that might not mean much to most readers, I can tell you that the people gathering for this week's conference are making a difference in all of our lives by making our cars safer and our road travel more efficient.

I can also tell you that Pittsburgh is a great place for this year's event because it is home to Carnegie Mellon University where, on a recent visit, I saw firsthand the promising automotive and roadway technologies that CMU students and faculty are developing.

So we at DOT heartily welcome participants to the Intelligent Transportation Society America 25th Annual Meeting and wish them a productive week.  And if you're curious how these men and women are improving the way we travel, please read the article below from Greg Winfree, our Assistant Secretary for the Office of Research and Technology...

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The month of May is winding down, and with it National Bike Month.  Fast Lane readers have probably noticed an uptick in our bike-related articles recently, and that has been deliberate as I’ve wanted –particularly this month— to throw our support behind the more than 200 communities that have signed up for our Mayors’ Challenge for Safer, People, Safer Streets.

And, as we’ve reported here, the Mayors’ Challenge participants across the country have indeed been busy helping improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety in cities of all shapes and sizes for people of all abilities. For instance, in Columbia, MO, Mayor Bob McDavid has established a pedestrian safety task force, and in San Jose, CA, Mayor Sam Liccardo has announced a major new safe street strategy...

Temple Terrace
Mayor Frank Chillura leads the 2015 "Ride with the Mayor" in Temple Terrace, Florida.
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We asked Americans: “In 30 years, how will you travel?” Since then, you’ve tweeted, posted, and visited the Beyond Traffic website to share your ideas about the future of transportation.

And the conversation is just getting started!

Share your ideas with hashtag #BeyondTraffic or on our website at www.dot.gov/beyondtraffic. Together, let’s envision a future in motion!

Continue Reading What time is it? Time to ››
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It probably makes sense to you that idling your car —running your engine when you’re not moving— truly gets you nowhere.  It reduces your vehicle’s fuel economy, costs you money, and creates pollution.  A little-known fact from the U.S. Department of Energy: Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to smog and climate change than stopping and restarting your engine does.

Researchers estimate that idling of heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel and produces about 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. About half of that is from commercial vehicles, including transit buses.

So when the Federal Transit Administration and America's public transit agencies turn their attention to start/stop or anti-idle buses, it makes a big difference...

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Secretary Foxx has talked a lot about the cost of transportation funding shortages --and for good reason.  Last week, I visited the site of a project that exemplifies exactly what has been happening all around the country: the US 395 North Spokane Corridor or NSC.  The NSC remains half-built, and there is simply no funding to build the second half, the remaining five miles that would connect it to Interstate 90. 

From one standpoint, the project really symbolizes what’s right in transportation today.  The people of this region came up with a project that would improve safety and reduce congestion.

The bad news is that --after 33 short-term, underinvesting extensions by Congress-- we still don’t have the federal funding to complete the NSC.  Or to complete thousands of other projects like it across the country.  Or to even start the thousands of other projects communities have planned to meet their most pressing transportation needs.

The NSC and its half-built and unbuilt counterparts do not need the short-term patch of another Congressional extension. They need the GROW AMERICA proposal Secretary Foxx sent to Congress in March.  They need the substantial investment this nation has put off for far too long.  They need a long-term timeline that lets communities plan and invest in projects that will create jobs, improve residents' quality of life, and help the local economy grow...

At N.S.C. site
Acting FHWA Administrator Greg Nadeau with Washington State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, courtesy FHWA.
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