Last Friday, President Obama signed the 34th short-term surface transportation extension passed by Congress in the past 6 years, saying:
"Instead of long-term approaches where we can actually strategize on what are the most important infrastructure projects, how are they getting paid for, providing certainties to governors and mayors and states and localities about how they’re going to approach critical infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, ports, airports -- instead, we operate as if we’re hand-to-mouth three months at a time, which freezes a lot of construction, which makes people uncertain, which leads to businesses not being willing to hire because they don’t have any long-term certainty."
Which is not to mention the fact that America's roads, rails, and transit systems --the ones that get you where you need to go and deliver the goods you use every day-- will continue to go underfunded and under-maintained. They will continue to be denied the upgrades that might ease congestion and more safely connect people to opportunity.
So beginning today and running throughout the August recess, we're going to turn our Instagram account over to you. Just snap a photo --please do it safely!-- of the worn-out infrastructure in your neck of the woods and share it with @USDOT using #ShowUsYourInfraWear...
With summer heat pounding down on cities and towns across America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is again urging everyone to remember that heatstroke can be deadly to a child left in a hot car.
Other than crashes, heatstroke is the leading cause of death involving children 14 years and younger in motor vehicles. They represent 61 percent of all non-crash deaths in this age group. San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences estimates that, in 2014, at least 30 kids died from heatstroke. And, with several weeks of hot weather still to come, 10 kids have already died in 2015.
Heatstroke kills. But it is 100 percent preventable. So we're reminding everyone to protect children with this simple message: “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Today, as part of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, we’ll be highlighting heatstroke dangers on Twitter throughout the day. You can follow our tweetup on @NHTSAgov using #checkforbaby and #heatstrokekills...
Underpinning DOT’s many safety programs and regulations is a wealth of data, much of it publicly shared. That data informs our decision-making and supports our objective of the safest possible outcomes for all users of the transportation system.
But that data also gets used by others pursuing similar safety goals, so we recognize the need to continually improve the value of data we collect and share, particularly as the quantity and variety of that data increase.
To help DOT better understand how we can improve our surface transportation safety data, we worked with the Center for Open Data Enterprise to hold an Open Data Roundtable last March. And today, the Center has released its report on that Roundtable...
Since 2009, our TIGER competitive grant program has provided a combined $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. That's a terrific outcome, right? Hundreds of good projects making it easier for people to get where they're going and easier for freight to get to markets. And any Department would be rightfully proud of that achievement --as DOT is.
But during that same period, demand has been so overwhelming that the Department received more than 6,000 applications requesting more than $124 billion. That means that for every project selected, 17 projects that communities across the country need go unfunded. And for every dollar requested, we have only been able to provide about 3 cents. Three cents.
For this year's TIGER grants, communities are facing the same disappointment: We've received 625 applications seeking $9.8 billion in funding, 20 times more than the $500 million Congress has made available. Again, we're seeing a demonstration of the continued need for transportation investment nationwide.
Now, we're looking forward to selecting the best of those projects, but the consistent number of high quality projects we’re unable to fund through TIGER every year demonstrates the need for Congress to give more communities access to this vital lifeline.
That's why earlier this year, we sent Congress the GROW AMERICA Act, a transportation proposal that included more than doubling the amount available for TIGER...
Today, our Department marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to celebrating the law itself, a groundbreaking achievement in civil rights, I encouraged employees to celebrate DOT's achievement in implementing the ADA and making all aspects of life in America more accessible to all Americans.
This anniversary is a great day in the history of our country. It’s a great day in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation. And the men and women of DOT are part of the reason that this 25th anniversary of the ADA is truly a cause for celebration.
Thanks to those who advocated for this law, those who crafted it, those who rallied the votes to pass it, and --yes-- those who have fought in the two and a half decades since then to make this law really work, tens of millions of Americans are no longer cut off from mainstream America. Tens of millions of Americans can now participate fully in society and achieve their potential...
When DOT and the rest of the transportation industry face our toughest challenges, we don't have the luxury of Commissioner Gordon's Bat-Phone. But we do have a secret weapon: Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center— and that's a pretty good substitute.
The Volpe Center was established in 1970 to provide analytical, scientific, and engineering support to a newly-established USDOT. Its mission? To improve America's transportation system by anticipating emerging issues and advancing transportation innovation. As dedicated public servants, the Volpe staff has devoted their careers to making transportation better for all of us. Whether they are coming up with exciting new ideas or supporting national transportation priorities, Volpe consistently delivers transformative transportation solutions.
Last week, I had the chance to tour the Center and meet some of the men and women who are moving transportation forward. It was a visit I won't soon forget —and not just because Volpe staff put together a video highlight reel, which I encourage you to watch below...
Automobile manufacturers have an obligation to repair safety defects in their products, and it's the job of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate possible defects and make sure that automakers fulfill that safety obligation.
And if you noticed that I used the word "safety" three times in the sentence above, there's a reason for that: Safety is this Department's number one priority, and we simply cannot ease up in our muscular pursuit of that priority, not for a moment. Consumers, the traveling public, and everyone who uses America's vast network of roads trusts their safety and the safety of their loved ones to us, and we take that trust very seriously.
That's why today's consent order from NHTSA regarding Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) response to its safety obligations is such a big step forward.
In this order, Fiat Chrysler acknowledges violations of its legal requirement to repair vehicles with safety defects. The company will submit to rigorous oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and pay as much as $105 million --the largest-ever civil penalty NHTSA has imposed...
Smithsonian Hosts Festival ADA: 25 Years of Disability Civil Rights
Why do I see a future for passenger rail? Because, as the President has said, this is America. The country that built the Transcontinental Railroad more than 150 years ago shouldn’t be lagging behind others when it comes to building quality rail connections between our cities.
We have a capacity problem now that is only going to get worse in the very near future. A world-class passenger rail network in our fastest-growing regions is no luxury; it's a necessity. We have a rail network in the American Southeast that --with a commitment from DOT, States, and regions-- can be upgraded to accommodate quality passenger service.
Yesterday, I sat down with a group of men and women, Virginians for High Speed Rail, who share that commitment. And I let them know that they are not alone...
By 2045, our nation will need to accommodate the 70 million more people that will be added to our population. Knowing this, we must prepare for a nation with growing needs for food, goods, commerce, defense, and energy. These needs mean our national freight system will have to move 14 billion more tons of freight each year, and 4 billion tons of that freight will sourced internationally and move through America’s ports.
You can imagine, then, the importance of facilities like the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, the only port on the U.S. East Coast currently capable of handling the latest 13,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessels. These super-sized ships are the vessels of the near future --a future that will feature a widened Panama Canal-- and these vessels are capable of carrying many times more freight than ships currently passing through the Canal.
Yesterday, at the Port of Virginia, we celebrated the groundbreaking of two projects that will improve access, safety, and efficiency, allowing the Port to manage the anticipated increases in vessel size and cargo tonnage more effectively...