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Last week, The Washington Post published an article echoing one of the themes Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has emphasized for the past two years: how the roads and rails built decades ago divide many American cities along racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines.

As the Post's Emily Badger wrote --and Darla Cameron supported with powerful infographics-- "Look at racial maps of many American cities, and stark boundaries between neighboring black and white communities frequently denote an impassable railroad or highway, or a historically uncrossable avenue."

Secretary Foxx's remarks last week from Charlotte, North Carolina, a city he knows well and where he himself experienced this geographic separation from the commercial and educational opportunities of Greater Charlotte, illustrate the point very clearly...

Continue Reading Undoing Transportation ››
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The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) National Bridge Inspection Program (NBIP) has helped ensure the safety of America’s bridges for more than three decades.  But our nation’s highway tunnels have never benefited from a similar oversight program.  That changed last week, when FHWA launched a tunnel inspection program modeled after the NBIP.

This unprecedented effort is all about FHWA’s top priority, making our roads safer.  

The National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS) final rule, published in the Federal Register on July 14, will serve as the foundation of the nation’s first standardized tunnel inspection program.   We know that using national standards will help maintain a high level of quality and consistency in tunnel inspections across the country...

Tunnel inspection work

Continue Reading FHWA Unveils New Tunnel ››
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When you call 911 in an emergency, you expect responders to be able to find you. That the system might stumble trying to translate your address into the geospatial coordinates doesn't occur to you for even a moment.  Nor should it.

A complete, current, and accurate address list including street number, street name, city --as well as less commonly used information like Latitude/Longitude, GML point geometry, and spatial reference system-- with associated metadata is essential for a variety of government and non-government functions, including emergency response, conducting the Census, income tax collection, delivering the mail, planning, routing, and many others.

But currently, many agencies and organizations either collect, purchase, or lease address information in an uncoordinated fashion. To date, there has been no national database of address points in the public domain, and that's why, last April, DOT hosted the National Address Database Summit...

Map with geo data

Continue Reading DOT presses forward on ››
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Major trends are shaping the future of our transportation systems.  Our population is growing and aging. Our legacy transit systems need more attention every day.  Our roads and runways face increasing congestion.

America's way of life and continued economic growth depend on meeting these challenges, so this October, DOT and the White House Office of Public Engagement will host a Champions of Change event focused on Beyond Traffic: Innovators in Transportation for the Future.”

I invite you to help us recognize the champions who are making it all possible...

Champions logo

Continue Reading Seeking Innovators for 2015 ››
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The mission of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York, is to educate and graduate licensed merchant mariners and leaders of exemplary character to serve America’s marine transportation and defense needs in peace and war. Academy leadership, faculty, and staff are renowned for their commitment to this mission —and also for going beyond this mission to increase the quality of life for all Americans.

This commitment is on full display through USMMA’s ongoing involvement with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.  Since 2006, Kings Pointers have participated in the foundation’s Guide Dog Raising Program.

Each year, two midshipmen are selected to raise loving service dogs to aid visually impaired Americans in their everyday lives. Alongside their studies and training, the midshipmen diligently train and care for a 5-7 week old puppy until it becomes 12 to 18 months old. Following this, they return the dog to the foundation to begin its new career as a guide dog...

Two Kings Pointers with service animals in training

Continue Reading Kings Point Midshipmen ››
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We’ve been talking a lot here lately —and with good reason— about the pressing need to rebuild and renew America's transportation system.  Recent Fast Lane posts have emphasized the need for Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill that boosts investment in roads, bridges, and transit.  And just yesterday, with the Highway Trust Fund running low and current transportation law set to expire, Secretary Foxx sent a letter to State DOT officials advising them of the impending deadline and its painful implications.

Often overlooked in this discussion, however, are America's counties.

If we want to improve the safety and resilience of our nation's roads, we can’t draw the line at Interstate highways, U.S. highways, or State highways; we must include America's County roads...

Map of U.S. showing county boundaries, with road work faded into the background

Continue Reading Improving safety on county- ››
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Today, I joined Secretary Foxx at the official opening of Charlotte’s new CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar. When we cut the ceremonial ribbon, we helped kick off the 1.5-mile first phase of what will be a 10-mile line that connects people to much of what this growing city has to offer.

Residents of Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, already benefit from light rail, but the streetcar will go deep into the central business district and provide a new way for people to access health care centers, universities, city services and scores of retail establishments.

Its value as a connector increases countless times by intersecting with the LYNX Blue Line light rail and 70 – that’s right, 70! – bus routes. The project offers another public transportation choice in an area of high transit use and lessens the need for cars in the center of the city...

Rendering of Gold Line scene

Continue Reading Striking Gold in Charlotte ››
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Last Thursday, I wrote here in the Fast Lane, that --because the current transportation law is due to expire on July 31-- we would have to suspend all reimbursements to States for road, bridge, and transit work on August 1, unless Congress acts in the 17 days before the law expires.

I also noted that, because the trust fund's highway account is rapidly running out of money, an extension of transportation authority won't buy us much time at all because we will have to implement cash management protocols next month. Again, unless Congress adds new revenue.

This morning, we sent letters to the 50 State DOTs, 5 Territorial DOTs, and the Washington, DC, DOT advising them of those impending measures...

Image of letter to Alabama DOT

Continue Reading Letter advises State DOTs ››
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This year marks the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare.  But rather than looking backward, the 2015 White House Conference on Aging being held today has been examining the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans in future decades.

Because the White House conference was such a packed house, DOT is joining the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in hosting a watch party for the many Federal agencies whose missions include helping older Americans.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan speaks at DOT watch party
Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan speaks on transportation and an aging population.

Every day, nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65.  By 2045, the number of Americans over age 65 will have increased by 77 percent.  That is no small drop in the demographic bucket; it is a seismic shift and one that has our full attention...

Continue Reading Thoughts on transportation ››
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The Connect Historic Boston project got its official start last Friday with a groundbreaking that included DOT's Undersecretary for Policy Peter Rogoff and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The public ceremony had a much longer guest list, however, because Connect Historic Boston would not be possible without the collaboration of the Federal Highway Administration, the Massachusetts DOT, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Boston's Public Works Department, the National Park Service, and many others groups.  That long list of partners --and the improvements the project will make to America's oldest functioning street network-- helps make it exactly the kind of innovative undertaking that DOT's TIGER grant program was designed to support.

Which is why our $15.5 million TIGER award is making possible this $23 million effort to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to downtown Boston and its treasure of American history...

Connect Historic Boston graphic showing the various modal connections C.H.B. will allow

Continue Reading Connect Historic Boston ››
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