In the spirit of #InfrastructureWeek, it is important to recognize that the future presents a number of serious transportation challenges.
Our population is increasing, our roads are deteriorating, and as the President likes to say, “We have 100,000 bridges old enough for Medicare.” Congestion is choking economic growth and slowing job growth. Business owners are finding it harder to ship their goods, and folks are finding it harder to get to work. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that commuting time is the single largest factor when calculating the odds of escaping poverty. Never before has the connection between economic prosperity and transportation been so self-evident. So Congress must be acting to meet the needs of modern transportation, right? Think again.
Yesterday, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations expressing his concerns with the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. In his letter, Mr. Donovan made it clear that the bill proposed by members of the committee seriously underfunds important investments that are necessary to address the very real challenges of both housing and infrastructure.
I echo Mr. Donovan’s concerns...
In yesterday's #InfrastructureWeek edition of the Fast Lane, I wrote that even if Congress does manage to pass its 33rd short-term extension of our nation's transportation law, "the previous 32 short-term measures have all but stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects."
And this morning, I saw first-hand how our inability to invest adequately in transportation is affecting the everyday lives of people in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The nearly one million people living in the greater Knoxville area look a lot like the folks in communities I've visited across America. They're trying to get their children to school on time, get themselves to work, and get home for dinner. They're doing their part, trying to get a little bit ahead if they can, trying to ensure a better life for their kids.
But, short-term extension after short-term extension, their government is failing them. And exhibit "A" of that failure is the Alcoa Highway...
It's happening again. The May 31 expiration date for federal transportation funding is fast approaching.
Earlier today, I wrote to State Department of Transportation leaders, informing them that all federal participation in transportation infrastructure construction will stop if we reach that date without action by Congress. States will not be reimbursed for construction costs. They will not receive technical support. And, as construction season begins after a long winter, projects will grind to a halt.
Maybe Congress will act in time. But at best, they’re likely to pass another short-term extension, the 33rd such patch in the past 6 years. And at best, they’ll prolong a dangerous status quo of funding infrastructure at a level that has left our transportation system gasping for air.
That's why thousands of stakeholders across the nation are rallying for the 3rd annual Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term solution.
I’ll be leading the charge with kick-off events here in Washington, DC, and a week of activities in Tennessee, Iowa, and California...
Photo courtesy of Eric Wagner (@WagnerEric), Bloomberg Government (@BGOV)
We're now more than a week into May, and DOT is hearing about some great National Bike Month initiatives from participants in our Mayors' Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. It looks like the Challenge that Secretary Foxx launched earlier this year has already helped local leaders promote safe walking and bicycling in communities across the country.
We've added a few initiatives of our own to the mix as well. Last week, we held a virtual forum where Challenge participants could share their activities, and today we're sharing our fun new Bike To Work Week video!
Click on the jump to learn about biking activities in Fergus Falls (MN), Bellevue (WA), and Burlington (VT)!
It's hard to believe that the 2013-2014 round (EDC-2) of the Federal Highway Administration's Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative, our partnership with state departments of transportation and other stakeholders to speed up innovation in project delivery just ended...and that we're already advancing another batch of innovations for EDC-3.
Judging from results compiled in our EDC-2 Final Report, our partners are indeed making every day count. Together, we’re saving money, saving time, and saving lives –exactly the results we said were possible if we made innovation a standard industry practice. And exactly the kinds of steps we need to keep taking to prepare for the future outlined in DOT's Beyond Traffic draft framework.
I invite you to review the report to see the progress we’ve made accelerating use of the 13 EDC-2 innovations in projects from coast to coast. You'll also learn about some impressive wins for transportation agencies across America...
Every day, thousands of public servants in the federal government toil to make our nation more safe, efficient, and competitive. Since 2013, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most remarkable federal employees here at the DOT, and during Public Service Recognition Week, I want to thank them for their dedication.
In affirmation of the commitment I’ve seen at DOT, the Partnership for Public Service has selected three of our own as finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, known affectionately in the federal service as the “Sammie” award. Adam Schildge of the Federal Transit Administration, Paul Gilmour of the Maritime Administration, and Constantine Sarkos of the Federal Aviation Administration were nominated for their contributions to public service.
The achievements of all three of these individuals are particularly exceptional, and I was impressed to hear not only about the contributions they have made to the country, but to the world...
The unmanned aircraft (UAS) industry is changing faster than any segment of the aviation industry. So many bright minds are focused on advancing this technology. People are finding new ways to use these devices on almost a daily basis. And the energy I saw yesterday at the Unmanned Systems 2015 conference hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is proof of that.
That's why the AUVSI conference was the perfect spot to announce the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) next step to determine if and how we can safely expand unmanned aircraft operations in America: our Pathfinder research partnership with three leading U.S. companies.
These three companies --CNN, PrecisionHawk, and BNSF Railroad-- have committed extensive resources toward research that will help us expand the range of FAA-approved UAS operations in the next few years. Their work will provide significant insight into how unmanned aircraft can be used to transform the way certain industries do business –whether that means reporting on a natural disaster, checking on the health of crops, or making sure trains run on time...
Every year, thousands of Americans die or are seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes because they fail to wear safety belts. Surprisingly, professional drivers who handle commercial motor vehicles every day are less likely than other drivers to buckle up.
That's why elementary school kids from around the country spent the winter creating art that urges truck and bus drivers to "Be Ready. Be Buckled."
Their colorful messages were part of the annual calendar art contest run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. And last Monday, Transportation Secretary Foxx congratulated this year's winners...
Today is National Bike to School Day!
As the national clearinghouse for the Federal Highway Administration that organizes registration for this event, we at the National Center for Safe Routes To School are truly amazed that the question isn’t, “Will Bike to School Day be a success?” but “How big will Bike to School Day be this year?”
Participation for Bike to School Day continues to grow, and it's all because of the enthusiasm and commitment of thousands of parents, school administrators, elected officials, students, and community leaders. The number of 2015 Bike to School Day registered events has already surpassed the number of 2014 events registered on www.walkbiketoschool.org. In fact, as of this morning, we already have 2,377 events! And that number is only expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout National Bike Month...
With America's population expected to grow by 70 million over the next 30 years, moving the goods that enrich our lives --and the freight that fuels our economy-- will be a key challenge. As our Beyond Traffic draft framework indicates, by 2045, the volume of goods on our roads, rail, air, and water will increase 45 percent or more.
Because tomorrow's looming increase will pose a significant burden on our transportation system, we must prepare to handle that freight now by developing and investing in solutions today. The good news is that DOT is working to do just that.
Our Nation’s navigable waterways offer us a terrific, underused resource, and the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program works to incorporate that excess capacity into the U.S. transportation system --especially where marine transportation services present the most efficient and sustainable freight option. Continued development and investment along these 22 all-water Marine Highway Routes will provide more choices to shippers, help alleviate road and rail congestion, and accommodate future freight growth.
Just last week, Secretary Foxx designated three new marine highway projects aimed at making these waterborne routes seamless extensions of America’s transportation system and helping move us Beyond Traffic...