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Did you know that truck drivers are a very necessary part of the holidays?  They are the folks who make sure your grocery shelves are stocked with holiday necessities, like cookies, cakes, turkeys and potatoes.  At this very moment, thousands of truckers are on the roads delivering toys, food, clothing and other essentials for our families and friends.  These drivers work hard, and they need a safe place to rest as they travel.  Sadly, there isn’t always enough room for them.

Last year, USDOT released Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey results, which confirmed a nationwide shortage of safe truck parking.  We called for transportation stakeholders to come together and find solutions, convening the first National Truck Parking Coalition in November 2015.  Since then, we’ve held coalition meetings in Utah, Texas, Missouri and Maryland.  Last week, we held our second national meeting. 

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Last week, the Federal Highway Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation made history.  Specifically, we jointly executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the FHWA and the Florida DOT concerning the State of Florida’s participation in the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327.  More simply, we formalized a new relationship that embodies the principles of Every Day Counts initiatives. By assigning FHWA’s responsibilities for federally funded highway projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to the Florida DOT, the Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that I signed with Florida DOT Secretary Jim Boxold will save time and money on highway projects throughout the Sunshine State and save taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

At our latest Every Day Counts summit, held last Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., we extended the era of better, more cost-effective government. The MOU we signed is a symbol of the innovative partnership we are building with the Florida DOT, and serves as an important tool to give states more responsibility without sacrificing federal oversight responsibilities for the environment. In this arrangement, Florida DOT will be legally responsible for ensuring that all federally funded highway projects comply with all aspects of NEPA prior to approving any environmental documents.

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“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
 

Choices are like dominos. When you make one decision, it triggers the reaction for other situations to occur. Taking certain paths can affect your finances, your relationships, your friendships and your career. Drunk driving is one such choice that continues to affect countless lives. Every day, drunk drivers get behind the wheel when they know they should not.

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Thanks to smart phone tools, web applications, and innovations in public transportation technology, the rise of shared mobility concepts, solutions, and innovative on-demand services is transforming how Americans get around.

Secretary Foxx has made clear that shared mobility has the potential to deliver better transit and paratransit service in a more efficient way – but recognizes the importance of balancing innovation with equity.

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Last week, the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), chartered in 2009 to provide advice and recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on transit safety matters, met in Washington, DC, to discuss their progress on the two safety tasks they undertook in 2016. TRACS meetings provide a valuable opportunity for the FTA to hear firsthand from committee members about the safety issues they see affecting the transit industry, and also provide a chance for FTA to discuss with them our recent activities in safety oversight, rulemaking, and research and innovation, and receive their feedback and questions.

During the two-day meeting, the committee discussed various effects safety culture, safety data and performance management have on the overall safety of a transit system. The FTA asked TRACS to focus on these priority areas because both are critical to the success of Safety Management Systems (SMS). With publication of the Public Transportation Safety Program Final Rule in September 2016, the FTA adopted the principles and methods of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the basis of its Safety Program.  TRACS working groups have devoted months to researching these safety topics and presented their preliminary findings to the entire committee. These reports will be finalized and posted on FTA’s web site in early 2017.

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Moving people and goods through our urban cores is critical for a thriving metropolitan area. As the Mayor in the I-4 corridor, a major economic driver of the South, we have struggled to plan our transportation systems as a region. We have too often been operating within a county or city instead of planning as a region that feeds in and out of several different job centers, entertainment districts and the like.

Transportation planning needs to take place at a regional scale – because in today’s America, so many people may live in one city or town but travel to another to work, to go to school, or to take advantage of other opportunities.  People do not consider county or city boundaries as they head to work or drop their kids off at school. We need a planning process that is prepared to address the transportation challenges within and between these areas, and that supports efforts to spur economic growth that benefits all Americans.


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The Leadership Academy is on the road! After hosting the launch event in Washington, DC, in early October, we wanted to create a similar experience for people in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Yesterday, at the same time we posted the Leadership Academy materials on our website, we were hosting a Regional Workshop in Kansas City, MO, and today we are going to be doing the same thing in Seattle.

Yesterday, more than 50 people came to the USDOT Regional Office Building in Kansas City to attend the workshop. Our own Chief Opportunities Officer Stephanie Jones and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Regional Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad hosted a discussion about what it means to become a transportation leader in your community. They invited feedback about the Academy and fielded questions from participants. During interactive breakout sessions, DOT staff from FTA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilitated learning activities to help participants dig in to the content of the Academy’s feature document: the Transportation Toolkit. Some participants even got first-hand experience   making tough decisions during a public meeting role-play.




 

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Did you know that you may already be a potential transportation leader – even if you have no prior experience? Because you travel every day on roads, railways, airways, sidewalks and trails to connect with the places you live, work, and play, you most likely have a lot of ideas for how to make these systems better.

Many people don’t realize that they have an important role in deciding where and how transportation systems get planned, funded, designed, built and maintained. While transportation agencies around the U.S. offer opportunities for public involvement, the process may be confusing and intimidating, especially for people who have never heard of a MPO or a TIP.


 

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Proposed Rule Would Mandate Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication on Light Vehicles, Allowing Cars to “Talk” to Each Other to Avoid Crashes.

Citing an enormous potential to reduce crashes on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule today that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles “talk” to each other.

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Today the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) WMATA Safety Oversight Office released our latest in-depth investigation report to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).   Special Directive 17-1 requires the transit agency to complete 47 actions to correct deficiencies in its traction power electrification (TPE) system, which is used to electrify Metrorail trains.  The special directive is based on 22 findings from an FTA investigation report into the condition and safety performance of the Metrorail TPE system, also released today. 
 

WMATA has reported more than 70 safety events resulting from electrical arcing in its traction power system since the time FTA took over temporary safety oversight of the Metrorail system in October 2015.  These events required an emergency response, and many resulted in the partial or full shutdown of a station or off-loading of a passenger train.



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