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The City of Willmar is a proud partner in a project to construct a railway by-pass on the community's west side. The project --officially called the Willmar Rail Connector and Industrial Access Project-- is known locally as the Willmar Wye project. Last Friday, Willmar was proud to welcome Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg, who announced that the city and its project partners have been awarded a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant to support the estimated $46 million cost of the project.

The Willmar Wye project is being developed with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Minnesota Department of Transportation, Kandiyohi County, and Kandiyohi County/City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. Currently, trains coming either from the northwest or from the southwest on BNSF lines have to pull all the way into the Willmar yard, reverse direction, and then head back to either the southwest or northwest.  The project will result in approximately 10,000 feet of new track being constructed to connect two BNSF mainlines so the railway can bypass the City of Willmar to the west. It will provide for rail access to the west end of the expanded Willmar Industrial Park being developed at the site of the former airport.

With the award of TIGER funding, we anticipate that actual construction could begin in 2017, following land acquisition...

Continue Reading TIGER grant advances rail ››
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This Sunday, November 15, is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, a day honoring the millions who have been killed in crashes on the world’s roads.

This year happens to be the 20th anniversary of this commemoration and the 10th anniversary of its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly. Here at the United States Department of Transportation, we think this 20/10 milestone in raising awareness of the need for greater road safety warrants something more from us than a Tweet or Facebook post.

In particular, given that the number of fatalities on America’s roads have generally declined in recent years except for a noticeable spike in deaths among bicyclists and pedestrians, we want to focus our attention this World Remembrance Day on crash victims who were walking or biking...

Continue Reading World Day of Remembrance ››
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Since 1985, the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville has played an important role in handling millions of tons of steel, grain, fertilizer, salt, and other bulk cargoes for both inbound and outbound markets --domestic and abroad. The port's central location connects the Midwest to the world with the Inland Waterways System, providing year-round access to the Great Lakes as well as ocean vessels in the Gulf of Mexico that can be transloaded with barges coming from or going to Jeffersonville. Trade through the port supports tens of thousands of jobs for Hoosiers and Kentuckians employed by the companies and farms that utilize the port every day, generating nearly $1.5 billion in economic value every year.

While the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville provides a number of competitive advantages to the Louisville region that includes southeast Indiana and north-central Kentucky, we know continued investments in infrastructure are crucial for ports to meet the predicted growth in freight, alleviate surface transportation congestion, and provide alternatives for shippers. It's good to see that DOT knows that, too.

Last month, Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen visited the port to announce the award of a $10 million DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery —or “TIGER”— grant...

Aerial view of Port activity

Continue Reading TIGER Revs Up the Hoosier ››
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Yesterday, I had the honor of addressing hundreds of dedicated U.S. servicemen and women, as well as their family members, loved ones and friends at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall here in Washington, DC.  As a retired career naval officer, it was a special privilege for me to lead this heartfelt Veterans Day tribute to all of the members of the United States Armed Forces—from the hundreds of thousands who perished in past wars and conflicts, to the millions who stood with them, and especially those proudly serving today both at home and abroad.

As we reaffirmed the noble legacy of our veterans in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—I also underscored the critical role and service of the U.S. Merchant Marine in every major overseas war involving our nation.  While our military members have braved the line of fire in many battles, it is crucial that they get to the conflict, and it is crucial that they have the supplies and equipment to win the fight.

And, from World War I to the present day, U.S. Merchant Mariners and U.S. Flag vessels have been the foundation of that immensely valuable national capability.

Wreath-laying ceremony at World War II Memorial

Continue Reading Veterans: American Heroes, ››
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Tomorrow, Americans across the country salute our veterans.  In communities nationwide, our fellow citizens will honor veterans with parades and all manner of patriotic festivities – and deservedly so. As the leader of the Federal Highway Administration, I wanted to point out one of the biggest, and most enduring symbols of America's thanks: our nation's bridges. 

Some of the nation’s largest and most distinctive bridges are dedicated to those who fought to defend our country.

five bridges named in honor of America's Veterans

Continue Reading Bridges: America’s Lasting ››
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The world watched recently as two phenomenal runners –one American, the other Japanese– raced side by side in the final miles of the New York City Marathon, trading sixth and seventh places. It was not until the very end that Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi slipped ahead of America’s Meb Keflezighi by just three seconds. It looked like the runners were competing very intensely against each other, and they were.

But they were also collaborating.

After turning in one of the best performances by a Japanese runner in the New York race’s history, Kawauchi in fact told reporters that without such competition, “I probably wouldn’t have been able to push it this hard. I owe this race to Meb.” Meanwhile, Keflezighi, who is 40 and ran the fastest marathon by a masters runner in American history, credited Kawauchi for helping him break the record.

Photo of U.S. and Japan flags

As I visited Japan last weekend, it struck me that this moment in sports was a microcosm of the U.S.-Japan alliance. For 70 years, our countries have stood together as partners. We have run side by side --in a way competing, but mostly trying to push each other forward. President Obama and Prime Minister Abe have been trying to break through barriers --ranging from trade to climate change-- to further strengthen our bond. I went to Tokyo, in turn, to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to helping each other improve our transportation systems...

Continue Reading U.S. and Japan moving ››
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Since we announced our first round of awards in 2010, DOT’s TIGER program has supported transportation projects that promise to transform cities, rural communities, and regions. For the 2015 TIGER grants --our seventh round—we’ve also selected a project whose benefits will help an entire state.

The State of Texas is receiving a TIGER 2015 grant for $20.8 million to replace more than 300 old and unreliable buses and vans in rural communities across the Lone Star State –the state with the largest rural population in America. These funds will also help build four new facilities to help maintain those vehicles and make it easier for people to connect to public transportation.

“Our rural residents rely on these transportation services to commute between jobs, school, doctor’s appointments, and other destinations that help them maintain their independence while also contributing to the economy,” said TxDOT Executive Director LtGen Joe Weber, USMC (Ret). “Without this funding, more than 70 percent of the rural transit fleet used for such services would be outdated by 2017.”

Passenger boarding bus in rural Texas

Continue Reading Unusual statewide TIGER ››
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One of Transportation Secretary Foxx’s greatest priorities is making sure that, while strengthening our country’s infrastructure, we also ensure that the rungs on the Ladders of Opportunity aren't so far apart and that transportation infrastructure projects create opportunities for a broad range of Americans.  That includes America's small businesses.

The success of Sharon Douglas, a small business owner in Fort Worth serves as a great example of why creating those opportunities is important for our Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and for our country.

In 2011 Sharon Douglas, owner of Bradley Douglas Construction Company, was looking to grow her business so she could bid more effectively on bigger projects, but she simply lacked the resources to make it happen.

Now, through her involvement with DOT’s Gulf Region Small Business Transportation Resource Center (SBTRC) over the last 4 years, Sharon has increased her company’s bonding capacity by 400 percent, from $1,000,000 to $ 5,000,000...

At the Texas small business day
Sharon Douglas, Lauren Adedokun, Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez and Tony Arps of the Gulf SBTRC
Continue Reading With help from DOT, Bradley ››
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The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) turns 80 tomorrow, and this octogenarian is still going strong. The secret of its vitality? The MUTCD remains active by helping the rest of us get to where we need to go safely and efficiently.

The TCD in MUTCD -- “traffic control devices” -- refers to all of the signs, signals, pavement markings, and other features that communicate with drivers all along America’s road system. From city streets to interstate highways, and covering a variety of shared-use facilities, this system moves the U.S. economy forward and gives us all a key freedom that has become part of the American ethos: mobility.  The MUTCD doesn’t simply promote the mobility of goods and services; its guidelines and standardization help drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians get where they're going and get there safely –no matter what part of the country they're in...

80th anniversary of M.U.T.C.D.

Continue Reading Happy Birthday to the MUTCD! ››
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The Port of Hueneme is thrilled to be awarded its first-ever U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant. The $12.3 million grant award provides critical funding for capital improvements including, deepening berths, strengthening our wharfs, modernizing our cargo infrastructure and building on-dock rail connections. The approximate balance of $12.2 million in project costs comes from port financing, private-sector dollars, and secured grants.

Specifically, this TIGER grant funds a crucial component of the Port of Hueneme’s Intermodal Improvement Project, which will allow for larger-capacity vessels, increased cold storage and cargo treatment and handling capability to support increased agricultural imports and exports, as well as implementing on-dock rail improvements that will allow for more efficient transfer of cargo.

Cargo activities at Port of Hueneme create $1.1 billion a year in economic return to the community, generate $69 million in state and local taxes and sustains over 10,200 area jobs. This project promises to strengthen the port’s asset utilization, enhance productivity, respond to customer demand, support growing import and export cargo flows, improve air quality and reduce regional congestion by offering efficient modal options...

Vessel in Port of Hueneme

Continue Reading TIGER Grants Help U.S. ››
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