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What happens when a busy port opens a new $27.5 million, 650-foot marine cargo dock and storage yard? When we're talking about the Port of Brownsville, Texas, that investment significantly boosts its capacity and capability, allowing the port to compete more effectively with major domestic and foreign counterparts in the Gulf of Mexico region.

The Port of Brownsville already generates $2 billion in annual economic activity for the State of Texas.  But port leaders understand that the future of freight is a future of dramatically expanding shipping volumes and an increasingly competitive global economy.  Their plans to face the challenges and opportunities of the future with a state-of-the-art dock and storage yard garnered the support of a $12 million DOT TIGER grant, and last Friday I joined Federal, State and local officials at the Port to mark the opening of the new facilities.

But this TIGER grant will help accomplish a lot more than increased capacity.  As an emerging regional trade hub and home to several of our Nation’s vessel recyclers, the Brownsville maritime industry is a major South Texas job creator.  The industry directly employs more than 1,200 Texans and produces commercial activity that energizes maritime-related and –linked industries, generating additional jobs in other sectors of the economy.  With the addition of this TIGER-funded dock and storage yard, we are proud to be contributing to the creation of even more employment opportunities for the Lone Star State...

Port of Brownsville ribbon-cutting

Continue Reading DOT TIGER on the Loose at ››
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Rarely does DOT miss an opportunity to focus our transportation investments where they can boost local economic development.

Our funding commitments to America’s infrastructure are about more than throughput.  They pay off for individual residents who gain improved access to jobs, education, and other services even while they also boost economic growth in the community at large. From construction jobs during the building phase to more permanent jobs created when companies invest locally because of improved transportation, the taxpayer dollars we invest in infrastructure pay our nation back several times over in the economic activity these projects stimulate.

We have a long list of transportation projects to get done just in the deferred maintenance area alone, to say nothing of investing in increased capacity that stimulates development through improved access for businesses to markets, customers, and employees...

Continue Reading When We Develop ››
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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.

U.S. highway 36 rendering with Tiger paw overlay

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...

Continue Reading TIGER demand again outpaces ››
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Smithsonian Hosts Festival ADA: 25 Years of Disability Civil Rights

Protesters chained to buses
Continue Reading ALL Aboard: 25 Years Ago, ››
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We’ve been talking a lot here lately —and with good reason— about the pressing need to rebuild and renew America's transportation system.  Recent Fast Lane posts have emphasized the need for Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill that boosts investment in roads, bridges, and transit.  And just yesterday, with the Highway Trust Fund running low and current transportation law set to expire, Secretary Foxx sent a letter to State DOT officials advising them of the impending deadline and its painful implications.

Often overlooked in this discussion, however, are America's counties.

If we want to improve the safety and resilience of our nation's roads, we can’t draw the line at Interstate highways, U.S. highways, or State highways; we must include America's County roads...

Map of U.S. showing county boundaries, with road work faded into the background

Continue Reading Improving safety on county- ››
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Today, I joined Secretary Foxx at the official opening of Charlotte’s new CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar. When we cut the ceremonial ribbon, we helped kick off the 1.5-mile first phase of what will be a 10-mile line that connects people to much of what this growing city has to offer.

Residents of Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, already benefit from light rail, but the streetcar will go deep into the central business district and provide a new way for people to access health care centers, universities, city services and scores of retail establishments.

Its value as a connector increases countless times by intersecting with the LYNX Blue Line light rail and 70 – that’s right, 70! – bus routes. The project offers another public transportation choice in an area of high transit use and lessens the need for cars in the center of the city...

Rendering of Gold Line scene

Continue Reading Striking Gold in Charlotte ››
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Last Thursday, I wrote here in the Fast Lane, that --because the current transportation law is due to expire on July 31-- we would have to suspend all reimbursements to States for road, bridge, and transit work on August 1, unless Congress acts in the 17 days before the law expires.

I also noted that, because the trust fund's highway account is rapidly running out of money, an extension of transportation authority won't buy us much time at all because we will have to implement cash management protocols next month. Again, unless Congress adds new revenue.

This morning, we sent letters to the 50 State DOTs, 5 Territorial DOTs, and the Washington, DC, DOT advising them of those impending measures...

Image of letter to Alabama DOT

Continue Reading Letter advises State DOTs ››
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The Connect Historic Boston project got its official start last Friday with a groundbreaking that included DOT's Undersecretary for Policy Peter Rogoff and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The public ceremony had a much longer guest list, however, because Connect Historic Boston would not be possible without the collaboration of the Federal Highway Administration, the Massachusetts DOT, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Boston's Public Works Department, the National Park Service, and many others groups.  That long list of partners --and the improvements the project will make to America's oldest functioning street network-- helps make it exactly the kind of innovative undertaking that DOT's TIGER grant program was designed to support.

Which is why our $15.5 million TIGER award is making possible this $23 million effort to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to downtown Boston and its treasure of American history...

Connect Historic Boston graphic showing the various modal connections C.H.B. will allow

Continue Reading Connect Historic Boston ››
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In June, we published graphs showing past balances and projected balances for the two Highway Trust Fund accounts, the Highways Account and the Mass Transit Account.  Those graphs showed the Highways Account balance quickly approaching zero with the Mass Transit Account balance not far behind.

A month later, we've updated the data for both accounts to reflect June's activity.  I'm sorry to report that the situation has not really changed, and both accounts are dwindling fast.  In fact, we're nearing the threshold for the Highways Account where we have to institute cash management procedures...

Chart showing highway account balance hitting 0 by end of F.Y. 2015

Continue Reading DOT updates Highway Trust ››
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Today we released a set of Fact Sheets showing the condition of transportation in all 50 states. It's not a pretty picture.

Data on Massachusetts showing 52% of bridges in need of attention
Grim data from just one of the 50 fact sheets DOT released today.

A nation's infrastructure is its economic backbone. And you don't need a history book to know that a big part of America's success has long been our willingness to invest in our transportation system. In return, our ability to get supplies to manufacturers, goods to market, and people where they need to go has helped us thrive.

But we've been investing in that ability less and less.  And, as our willingness to invest has declined and transportation spending has decreased, it's no coincidence that —more and more—  Americans in every state are experiencing the frustration of poor road conditions and congestion.

Continue Reading We can't cross that ››
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