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Over the weekend this Department released a National Freight Strategic Plan that we hope will wake the country up and get us moving forward.

Port ofSeattle

Our freight network has been one of the great strengths of our country. Millions of Americans wake up in the morning and go to jobs operating trucks, trains, aircraft, ships, and barges. Freight directly supports 44 million jobs.

And our freight workers do more than ensure goods move successfully from one point to another. What they really do is move our economy. Because the cost of moving goods in America is one of the lowest in the world, the jobs these men and women do give us a competitive advantage over other nations.

Our freight infrastructure should be as good as our workers are, as our businesses are. But it’s not. It’s crumbling. And, we're making matters worse by continuing to underinvest.

It's time for this generation to shoulder the burden, face our transportation challenges, and keep improving our Nation's freight network...

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When we issued our draft report, Beyond Traffic, we started a conversation on the trends and choices facing the Nation’s transportation infrastructure over the next three decades. The report outlines a number of challenges –an anticipated 70 million more Americans by 2045, a 45 percent increase in freight volume, frequent extreme weather events-- and predicts nationwide gridlock unless we act soon to manage those challenges.

On Tuesday, I was pleased to honor as White House Champions of Change in Transportation 11 individuals whose innovative efforts have helped us do exactly that.

These Champions from across the country, various modes of transportation, and unique backgrounds have demonstrated exemplary leadership and creativity. Their work has led to the kinds of innovative solutions required to usher in a 21st Century American transportation system that is safe, effective, and accessible...

2015 Champions of Change in Transportation

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You might not expect the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to write about what her agency is doing to help more people join the middle class, but that is exactly what I’m about to do. With safety oversight and regulatory support from FMCSA, trucking connects people to opportunity.

Last month, I was honored to speak at the Women in Trucking conference in Dallas about the important issue of connecting people in all communities to economic opportunities.  I met so many women there who were involved in all facets of the trucking industry –from fleet owners, to drivers, to logistics and marketing professionals.  

Most of the women I talked to are creating better opportunities for themselves and their families, and they have found it in the ever-expanding trucking industry...

Daphne Jefferson and Women In Trucking president Ellen Voie
Deputy Administrator Jefferson with Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women In Trucking.
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Last month, here in the Fast Lane, we launched what I've been calling BATIC 2.0 --a staffed-up Build America Transportation Investment Center led by Andrew Right, whose background in civil engineering and finance will be critical to helping advance infrastructure projects throughout the country.

Yesterday, it was my distinct privilege to introduce BATIC to a group of stakeholders at a White House roundtable hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden.

Secretary Foxx and Vice President Biden

Now, last year, President Obama charged this Department with creating BATIC to help us build the roads, bridges, ports, transit systems, and other transportation infrastructure that America needs to thrive in the 21st century. And since then, BATIC has already leveraged $18 billion in infrastructure investment across the country...

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Last February, a CSX train hauling tank cars filled with crude oil from North Dakota to a transportation terminal in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed near Mount Carbon, West Virginia. Numerous tankers exploded, sending up plumes of black smoke and igniting a fire that burned for days, destroyed one home, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

Our Federal Railroad Administration immediately responded to the derailment and began investigating. And last week, following that thorough investigation, the FRA announced that a broken rail caused this derailment. The broken rail itself resulted from what the rail industry calls a vertical split head rail defect, a defect that CSX and its contractor, Sperry Rail Service, failed to identify during two separate inspections in the months leading up to the accident.

But our work doesn't end when we determine the cause of a derailment; in fact, that's when the important, forward-thinking work of preventing future derailments begins...

FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg
FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg making the announcement in Mt. Carbon.
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Let’s say you work for a public transit agency, and you are trying to respond to a question about accommodating a passenger who uses a service dog. You consult the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transportation regulations to find an answer, but in the regulation, service animal provisions appear in three different places. You want to be sure you’re giving the right answer.

With the release of the Federal Transit Administration’s ADA Circular last week, we've clarified the ADA and its complex rules, making it easier for you –and transit agencies across the country– to find a definitive answer.

By making sense of the lengthy regulations, FTA furthers the goal of ensuring transportation access for all. We know that public transportation provides a lifeline to jobs, education, medical care and other critical services. And we want to be sure that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has an opportunity to ride...

Continue Reading From FTA, a practical guide ››
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As our population grows by 70 million over the next 30 years, we know that a boom in freight demand is coming.

At the same time, we know that the median age of America's truck drivers --the folks who we'll need to move and deliver that freight-- is higher (49) than the median age of all workers (42), so we can expect a wave of driver retirements just when we'll need more and more drivers. We also know that the trucking industry is already experiencing a shortage of drivers right now, with the American Trucking Associations indicating a need to hire 47,500 drivers this year alone, just to meet existing demand.

To trucking industry experts, the combination of those trends sounds like a perfect storm. 

Fortunately, America's military Veterans, the men and women who have already served their nation so well, might be called to serve again --this time behind the wheel. And last week, our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced nearly $2.3 million in grants to 13 technical and community colleges across the country to help train veterans and their families for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Photo of college classroom with students, some veterans

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While the Federal Highway Administration continues to innovate toward the future, we also know it’s important to address issues that have concerned roadway engineers in the past.  Design flexibility is one of those areas that have interested State DOTs and local governments for a while. And today, we're proposing to revise current policies to encourage road design that is better tailored to community needs.

Flexibility means that state, city, and county engineers can develop projects --such as lower-speed roads-- that meet the needs of a full range of users -drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.  We also want those projects to support communities’ environmental needs and to connect people to work, school, health care, and other essential services.  

These benefits are at the heart of our emphasis on making sure transportation projects create access to opportunity for all users of America's roads...

Seattle's Dexter Road

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After Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, federal agencies scrambled to respond. Last night, I was privileged to be in the audience as Secretary Foxx gave one of the country’s most prestigious awards for federal service to a Federal Transit Administration employee who was instrumental in that response.

Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Adam Schildge, who was awarded a Partnership for Public Service "Samuel J. Heyman Service to America" medal, or "Sammie."

Photo of Adam Schildge at the Sammies 2015 award podium
Adam Schildge accepting the 2015 Call To Service medal for professional achievements reflecting the contributions a new generation brings to public service.
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Last year, data from our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that America's highway fatality rate had dropped to its lowest point ever. And a recent NHTSA study shows that new vehicle safety technologies --from seat belts to electronic stability control-- saved 614,000 lives.

The vehicles we drive today are loaded with technology, and they are safer than they've ever been. But we're not stopping there. In coming years, connected vehicle technologies like crash-avoidance systems and automated driving will very likely change the game.

But one thing we know is that vehicle safety features only work when drivers know how to use them.  And as our vehicles become more and more complicated, that's no easy task. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa are changing that with the new website, https://mycardoeswhat.org...

Screenshot of MyCarDoesWhat.org

Continue Reading For greater road safety, ››
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