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This afternoon, Secretary Foxx closed out Day One of the GROW AMERICA Express bus tour with a visit to Savannah, Georgia's Brampton Road Connector project. When completed, the Connector will speed the movement of freight into and out of the Port of Savannah via both rail and road. But, as of right now, the project is still in search of funding.

Last year, the port moved record tonnage and --recognizing the increasing demands of the future-- the ports leaders are hard at work expanding its operations.

Unfortunately, without upgrades in nearby transportation infrastructure, the Port's efforts to move more cargo in and out will only confront bottlenecks in the surrounding freight network...

Photo of Secretary Foxx in Savannah

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After leaving Tallahassee this morning, the GROW AMERICA Express went to Jacksonville, Florida where we saw first-hand the work on the I-95 Overland Bridge Replacement Project.  This impressive project is about half-finished, and anyone who sees it can’t help but be enthusiastic about the improvements being made to America’s transportation system. 

For more of these sorts of projects, however, long-term transportation funding is needed. 

Workers are replacing this structurally deficient interstate bridge on a section of I-95 just south of downtown Jacksonville, which should come as good news to the nearly 150,000 drivers who depend on it daily. At $196 million in construction costs alone, the project –which relies on $73 million in federal funding– is considered the largest highway construction effort in northeast Florida’s history.  Originally built in 1959 and reconstructed in 1989, the Overland Bridge epitomizes aging infrastructure, but also of the improvements possible with federal funding...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at I95 Overland Bridge Replacement site
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For every community, long-term investments in transportation have great and far-reaching effects.  Not only are the projects themselves a direct benefit to a region through the jobs they create, the infrastructure they improve, or the new forms of transit they introduce; but they also have secondary effects that aren’t as immediately noticeable to the economic and social vitality of our community.

Tallahassee is a mid-size city that has experienced an incredible amount of growth and revitalization over the last several years. A part of that success has been the conscious investments we have made to our infrastructure that has helped spur new development opportunities and has helped change our thinking of how best to use our land resources. Investments in transportation infrastructure have helped create truly substantive transformations in our City that have driven a resurgence in formally forgotten, dilapidated, or forgotten parts of town.

Photo of Tallahassee street redesign

These investments have also been overwhelmingly supported by our citizens, who in addition to taking advantage of the benefits of the new development and transportation opportunities, recently passed a sales-tax extension referendum partially focused on further developing the infrastructural amenities of our community. The citizens of Tallahassee get how important these resources are for the future vitality of their city in the short and long-term...

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In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands of residents of New Orleans stranded in the city. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy shut down 40 percent of the nation’s public transportation trips in a single blow. And last year, and in years past, transit employees in cities like San Francisco have died on the job while working on train tracks.

What these tragedies have in common is this lingering question: What more could have been done to help prevent or lessen their impact on people and their communities? To answer the public transit part of that question, the Federal Transit Administration is providing 13 organizations in 9 states a share of $29 million in grant funding to help us better prepare for natural disasters and prevent future accidents.

FTA’s Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration initiative is funding a wide range of innovative projects that will develop and showcase promising technologies, methods, practices, and techniques to improve the operational safety, infrastructure resilience, and all-hazards emergency response and recovery capacities of transit agencies...

Photo of transit bus in New Orleans

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When I took an eight-state bus trip last year from Ohio to Texas, it was great to see that the folks I talked with were able to connect the dots between the federal government’s role and what’s happening in their own home towns. They understood how gridlock in Washington, DC, was creating gridlock on Main Street in their communities. They understood that the infrastructure deficit I spoke about was affecting their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

But as we know from the thousands of questions that poured in for yesterday’s #StuckInTraffic Twitter Town Hall, that infrastructure deficit hasn’t gone away, and it's not going to go away...unless we do something.

So I'm going on the road again next week to highlight the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure, and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill. Our four-day GROW AMERICA Express bus tour will begin Tuesday in Tallahassee and visit five states –Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia– ending at Union Station here in the District of Columbia...


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Just a reminder to Fast Lane readers that Transportation Secretary Foxx and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Shuster will cohost a Twitter Town Hall question-and-answer session today at approximately 12:00 noon (EST).

If you have questions for these leaders --and we know you do-- please tweet them using the #stuckintraffic hashtag.

Then, tune to Twitter to see what they have to say!

Graphic advertising twitter event

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Progress in roadway safety—measured in lives saved and injuries prevented—is achieved through the work of thousands of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) professionals who wake up every day and strive to better protect us all when we drive, ride, and walk. Today, we'd like to highlight one of those individuals who has made a tremendous difference in our field, and who has just been recognized with one of our community’s greatest honors.

Dr. Richard Compton, director of the NHTSA Office of Behavioral Safety Research, will soon receive the National Safety Council’s (NSC) 2015 Borkenstein Award in recognition of his more than 35 years of research on human factors and programs to reduce injury and death caused by alcohol and drug-impaired driving...

Photo of Richard Compton with NHTSA staff

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In 2009, the last full year before DOT’s domestic tarmac rule went into effect, airlines reported 868 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours at U.S. airports.  By 2013, that number was reduced by 90 percent, with only 84 domestic flights experiencing tarmac delays longer than three hours.

And with today's release of our Air Travel Consumer Report, Secretary Foxx announced that, last year, the number of extended tarmac delays declined even further. In calendar year 2014, airlines reported the fewest tarmac delays longer than three hours on record --just 30 domestic flights.  Also in 2014, only 9 international flights were delayed longer than 4 hours at U.S. airports.

In the busy holiday travel month of December 2014? Zero flights --domestic or international-- stuck on the tarmac at U.S. airport for what our rules call an extended period.

We call that a win for consumer protection...

Photo of happy family after air travel

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This Wednesday, Secretary Foxx and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster will jointly host a Twitter town hall on reauthorizing U.S. surface transportation; strengthening the Nation's highways, bridges, and transit infrastructure; and the future of transportation in America.

Now, this is not just the first time the U.S. Transportation Secretary and the House T&I Committee Chair will cohost an event like this; it's actually the first time that any sitting Cabinet Secretary and House Committee Chair have cohosted such an event. Ever.

It's no wonder that Washington Post reporter Ashley Halsey wrote, "In an era when Twitter is omnipotent, tweeting a digital meeting harbors far greater significance as a display of rare bipartisan camaraderie in pursuit of a common goal."

Construction photo of Mackinac Bridge
Secretary Foxx and Chairman Shuster building a bridge of their own?
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In the introductory video for Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices, our draft 30-year transportation framework, the narrator says, "We've got a lot to think about; we need a new approach." And she's right.

The good news is that DOT researchers have been thinking; they have been imagining new approaches. And one new approach, Connected Vehicles, offers the possibility of improved safety and improved mobility...

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