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Each year, the Transportation Research Board meeting (TRB) is one of the largest gatherings of transportation professionals and researchers in the world, and this year's TRB is no exception. With more than 12,000 participants, 5,000 presentations, and 750 different sessions, it's kind of a big deal for the Department, the industry, and for all Americans who depend on a safe and reliable transportation network. You're likely to see more than one blog post here in the Fast Lane on TRB-related topics this week. I'm pleased to kick-off our TRB coverage by discussing the importance of more effective bike-ped counts.

To ensure that a community's bicyclists and pedestrians have safe, useful routes for their travel, we need accurate estimates of how many people are walking and bicycling in that community. Those counts help guide and support traffic management, usage forecasts, safety studies, and general non-motorized planning and policy.

So, if we want non-motorized transportation incorporated effectively into transportation policy and performance management --and many Americans have indicated that they do-- we need better bicycle and pedestrian data programs. That's why the bike-ped data community gathered yesterday at TRB to share case studies, tools, and best practices that can lead to better counts...and better transportation...

Photo of pedestrians in crosswalk

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Construction on America’s first high-speed rail system is underway.

On Tuesday in Fresno, California, I joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congressman Jim Costa, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, California High-Speed Rail Authority (CaHSRA) Chairman Dan Richard, and others to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the high-speed rail system that will connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.

It was an historic moment and one that I am honored to have been a part of.  This project has been a long time in the making, but emerged from the planning phase in 2009, when President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, providing $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects.  From this and additional funds, $3.4 billion was invested in California High-Speed Rail....

Photo of guests signing the first rail at high speed rail track laying

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Over the past decade, highway fatalities have declined by nearly 25 percent, with the latest data showing a drop of 3.1 percent in 2013 from the previous year. While that is a remarkable success story, we have much more work to do. So my intention as NHTSA Administrator is to build on this record by strengthening what works and fixing what doesn’t.

And one thing that doesn't work is when industry fails to live up to its safety responsibilities by not disclosing critical safety information as required by law.

That’s why yesterday we announced two distinct $35 million civil penalties, totaling $70 million, assessed to Honda for failing to report deaths and injuries and failing to report certain warranty claims...

Photo of Honda assembly plant in U.S.

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The U.S. aviation system is one of our safest modes of transportation, and at the Federal Aviation Administration, we are constantly striving to make air travel even safer. That's where airline Safety Management Systems (SMS) come into play, and today Transportation Secretary Foxx and I announced a final rule requiring all commercial air carriers with regularly scheduled service to develop a Safety Management System and put it into place by 2018.

One of our primary avenues for improving safety has been to study the causes of past incidents. Learning from the past has been an effective tool, but SMS -an organization-wide approach to managing risk in airline operations- allows us to do even better by looking at data, identifying risk patterns, and taking action before a problem occurs.

In making this rule, we looked at more than 100 U.S. commercial carrier incidents between 2001 and 2010, and we determined that if Safety Management Systems had been in place, the majority of them could have been prevented...

Photo of FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announcing SMS rule

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It was my great pleasure earlier this week to participate in the ceremonial swearing-in of Mark Rosekind as the Administrator of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I made this simple task one of our first post-holiday activities for one reason: it may be a new year, but our commitment to safety as DOT's number one priority remains firm.

And Mark is just the Administrator to ensure that our continued emphasis on that top priority translates into safer cars, safer roads, and safer people...

Photo of Mark Rosekind at congressional hearing

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See how our Federal Highway Administration and its partners collaborate to make biking and walking safer, affordable, more accessible, and an integral part of livable communities across America.

To learn more about how FHWA works, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov today!

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The importance of the work we do at the Federal Transit Administration is exemplified by the record number of Americans that made transit a part of their daily lives in 2014. Building on already-historic levels of rail, bus, and passenger ferry ridership, public transportation now enjoys more riders taking more trips than we have seen in generations.

To help meet that growing demand, FTA awarded more funding to transit projects in 2014 than in any other year in our history – providing $15.7 billion across more than 2,200 grants.

That figure includes $3.6 billion for 40 projects to help communities continue recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Even without those significant Sandy grants, however, 2014 would still have been a record-setting year for federal transit funding...

Workers in NYC subway tunnel

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take part in a groundbreaking for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  It’s DOT's first project to break ground in 2015 and also the first of any project using funds from the latest round of USDOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants announced just last September.

Beginning immediately, workers will begin replacing the 65-year-old bridge, which carries an estimated 14,000 drivers each day over the Piscataqua River. The new span will also provide rail access to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, carry crucial commercial traffic along the U.S. Route 1 Bypass, and serve as the primary emergency alternate bridge for the I-95 High Level Bridge between the two states. It also connects the Maine and New Hampshire DOTs that are partnering in a joint venture to replace the crossing.

But the bridge will connect even more than the two banks of a river; it will connect centuries...

Rendering of the replacement bridge

Continue Reading Breaking ground: a new year ››
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Earlier today, I had the opportunity to welcome students returning to Somerville High School in Massachusetts after their winter break. Actually, I was there to announce a Federal Transit Administration agreement to help fund the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line Extension from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. But it was entirely fitting to make the announcement at a local high school.

I’m the grandson of teachers who, like so many teachers, went above and beyond their job descriptions because they understood that they were paving the way for a new generation to go further. That's what education is about. And it's also what transportation is about...

Photo of MBTA Green Line train

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s enduring mission is to ensure that the United States has the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.  In 2014, we’ve taken many steps to accomplish this result.  I’d like to highlight three particular efforts... 

NextGen allows multiple aircraft approach

Continue Reading FAA ready for 2015 ››
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