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Today, for the first time in more than fifty years, a scheduled, commercial flight took off from the United States and landed in Havana, Cuba. I had the privilege of joining the passengers and crew on that flight this morning as it left Miami and made the one hour journey across the Florida Strait, marking another important milestone in our ongoing efforts to reengage with Cuba.


President Obama took the historic step last year of declaring that it was time to “begin a new journey” with the Cuban people. Since then, under the president’s leadership, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and all of us at the Department of Transportation have been working to reestablish scheduled, commercial air service between our two countries, creating new opportunities for eligible travelers from the United States to visit Cuba.

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Today I am announcing the launch of a new Automation Proving Ground Pilot Program. Through this program, the Department will designate facilities as qualified proving grounds for the safe testing, demonstration and deployment of automated vehicle technology. We believe that by designating facilities as part of a Community of Practice, we can foster a safe environment for these entities to share best practices related to testing and developing this technology.

Safety is our top priority at USDOT and over the past year we have leaned in on ushering in these innovations that will transform transportation as we know it. Through efforts such as our Smart City Challenge, and the first of its kind Federal Automated Vehicle Policy released in September, and now the Automation Proving Ground Pilot Program, we are setting a new foundation for this technology to be safely leveraged and implemented into the coming decades.

picture with road stripes

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When you head out the door in the morning, you probably don’t consider the number of organizations that work together to operate, maintain, and oversee the transportation systems you use to travel to work, school, and other destinations. However, you do expect to arrive safely and on-time.

Through financial and technical assistance, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) helps keep our transportation systems moving safely and efficiently. Within DOT, we’re always looking for ways to share that knowledge across industries and organizations—and we are making new safety connections between planes and trains.

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This month, FHWA and its partners began a year-long effort to engage state DOTs, first responders, community traffic reporters, drivers’ education instructors, grassroots preparedness organizations, and motorists as part of preparation for the first National Traffic Incident Response Week, which will take place November 13-17, 2017.

Why is this so important?



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See no danger, hear no danger, think solution.

For those of us with sight, it may be difficult to truly understand the challenges that some of our peers face on a daily basis. In addition to our sight, we depend on our other senses to alert us to possible danger. 

In many cases, being able to hear a possible danger is equally or more important than seeing it. That’s the logic behind NHTSA’s new sound requirement for all newly-manufactured hybrid and electric vehicles. 

Pedestrian crossing graphic

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As part of the Department’s 50th Anniversary, we’re celebrating veterans in transportation throughout November. Today’s #TranspoStory feature comes from Air Force Veteran Jerry from Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. Jerry – who served in the Vietnam War - shared his transportation story through DOT’s Share Your Story website.

“While browsing through the Trinity College library in 1963, a book caught my eye, “The Interurban Era” by William D. Middleton. Fascinated by how electric trolley and interurban rail lines had spread across America, I kept that book in my dorm room for a year.

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Last Friday, Americans held Veterans Day ceremonies all around the country. Once again, I had the distinct pleasure of publicly honoring the legacy of our fighting men and women.

Gathered with veterans, their families, and fellow Americans at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall here in Washington, DC, we paid tribute to all service members, past and present, of our United States Armed Forces.

Administrator Jaenichen with Senator Dole and others at WWII Memorial

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Last week, I traveled to St. Louis to host a workshop designed to build a more regional approach to transit planning. My trip was part of U.S. DOT’s series of MPOwerment roundtables, which focuses on the roles that Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) play in the transportation planning process.

While in St. Louis, I took the opportunity to get a first-hand look at how the city and region are planning for a successful future with forward-thinking transportation projects.

Carolyn Flowers in St. Louis

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is seeking nominations for a Voluntary Information-Sharing System (VIS) Working Group. The VIS Working Group’s mission will be to explore ways government and industry can do a better job sharing information relating to our nation’s pipeline infrastructure.

The VIS Working Group will advise the Secretary of Transportation on important pipeline safety issues, including whether PHMSA should establish an information-sharing system for pipeline owners and operators, ways to encourage pipeline inspection information sharing, and best practices for protecting proprietary and security-sensitive information.

Pipeline safety logo

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At the U.S. Department of Transportation, we’re always looking ahead to the next technology, project, or policy that will improve mobility and safety for all Americans. That’s why I’ve been closely following Volpe’s thought leadership speaker series, The Future of Transportation: Safety, Opportunity, and Innovation.

The Future of Transportation’s final event will take place tomorrow, November 9 with NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, who will discuss challenges and opportunities related to highly automated vehicles.

Future of Transportation logo​​​​​​​

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