If you’ve been following all of the recent exciting developments in aviation, you’ll remember that in December, I was proud to join Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transport Ruiz Esparza to sign a new, modernized, highly unrestricted air services agreement between the United States and Mexico.
And I’m thrilled to announce that on Friday morning, the United States and Mexico exchanged diplomatic notes, ensuring that this agreement will enter into force next month.
How do we connect communities?
How do we get there from here?
These are questions that Philadelphians ask themselves every day—how do I get from home to work, to school, to the park? But it’s also a question that we ask as a City and an administration: how do we build something that brings people together, and makes Philadelphia a place to be, not just a place to travel through?
I’m proud that Secretary Foxx and his team chose Philadelphia as the third of four Every Place Counts Design Challenge cities. The Vine Street Expressway (I-676) was built 25 years ago to connect I-95 on Philadelphia’s east with I-76 on our west. While the Expressway does that, this sunken highway also sliced through the heart of our city, dividing Philadelphia’s Chinatown and Callowhill neighborhoods.
This week, the Federal Highway Administration invited state and local officials nationwide to nominate routes in their areas where drivers can charge up electric vehicles and those that run on other alternative fuels. These “zero-emission” and “alternative fuel” corridors will help to ensure drivers have the information they need to make their travel plans.
These vehicles are a growing segment of the transportation network. Secretary Foxx and I know that making sure low-emission vehicles aren’t limited only to cities will help their drivers enjoy more of our nation’s network of roads and bridges. It is the next step in ensuring our transportation system meets the 21st century needs of communities nationwide.
Today, Secretary Foxx announced the tentative selection of four airlines to provide five daytime scheduled passenger flights to Tokyo’s centrally-located Haneda airport as early as this fall.
The availability of these new daytime slots is the result of a successful negotiation earlier this year between the U.S. and Japan to amend our bilateral Open Skies agreement. The amendment provides that, effective October 30th of this year, the four existing U.S. nighttime slot pairs at Haneda will be transferred to daytime hours. In addition, one new daytime flight opportunity and one new nighttime flight opportunity will become available for U.S. carrier scheduled passenger services. DOT launched a proceeding to award the new opportunities in March.
The roads and bridges we drive on connect us to the places we need to go, our ports move freight around the country, and our transit systems are weaving our urban communities together. The health of our transportation system is directly related to our economic success, but the reality is that some of these assets are centuries old and in desperate need of repair, while the need for new infrastructure continues to grow.
I’ve made it a priority as Secretary of Transportation to support creative and innovative infrastructure finance, and to advocate for long term funding solutions. I am excited to announce that today we officially opened the doors of the new Build America Bureau, a center that will deliver real, tangible infrastructure development for local, regional, and national population centers.
Early last week, we had the honor of hosting a multidisciplinary U.S. Department of Transportation design team for the Every Place Counts Design Challenge in Nashville. Ours was the second of four stops made by the USDOT team – the first was in Spokane, Washington – and they came ready to work!
Our city’s design challenge focused on historic Jefferson Street in North Nashville. For many years, Jefferson was the main street of Nashville’s African-American community: a center of retail, business, and cultural activity, from churches and theaters to the record stores and blues venues that helped give Music City its nickname.
However, when Interstate 40 was built in the 1960s, construction crossed Jefferson twice, running closely alongside it for nearly twenty blocks – literally overshadowing much of the neighborhood. The effect was to displace residents, divide a thriving community, and restrict the flow of vehicles and pedestrians alike.
In 2010, the Obama Administration took a historic step to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and decrease carbon pollution by putting in place fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks for Model Years 2012 through 2016. A second round of standards, finalized in 2012, expanded the program through Model Year 2025. These standards – what we call the National Program – are already making a big impact: reducing carbon pollution from the atmosphere while saving consumers money at the pump.
The auto industry has responded to the program with continual innovation – showing that a common sense approach to regulation that provides lots of flexibility can help drive American ingenuity. We are seeing fuel efficiency technologies enter the market faster than nearly anyone anticipated. In fact, auto manufacturers over-complied with the standards for each of the first three years of the National Program. All of this has taken place during a period of record vehicle sales.
Hoy, junto a la Administradora de Servicios Generales Denise Turner Roth y la embajadora estadounidense en México Roberta Jacobson, inauguramos el nuevo Centro de Transporte en la Avenida Virginia, VATC por sus siglas en inglés, y el cruce PedWest en el Puerto Terrestre de San Ysidro. De acuerdo a la Asociación de Gobiernos de San Diego (SANDAG), San Ysidro es el cruce fronterizo más activo en el hemisferio occidental, sirviendo aproximadamente 70,000 vehículos en dirección Norte y 20,000 peatones.
Es de crítica importancia a nivel nacional que tengamos un sistema de transportación efectivo y eficiente. Nuestra función en la Administración Federal de Carreteras es ayudar a proveer un sistema de transportación seguro, confiable y eficiente para así asegurarnos de que todas las comunidades, incluyendo aquellas a lo largo de la frontera, sean prósperas y tengan acceso a múltiples opciones de transportación.
Just recently I joined General Services Administrator Denise Turner Roth and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson to open the new Virginia Avenue Transit Center (VATC) and the PedWest crossing at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Ysidro is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere, serving an estimated 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians.
An effective and efficient border transportation system is of critical national importance. Our role at FHWA is to help deliver a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system to ensure that all communities, including those along the border, thrive economically and have access to multiple travel options.
In continuing our series of conversations with freight stakeholders nationwide, it is abundantly clear that freight movement impacts businesses everywhere in America. The economies of the three latest places I have visited – Des Moines, Iowa, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington – thrive on a wide array of industries, ranging from soybeans to steel to seafood. While the freight challenges are region-specific, other problems – such as bottlenecks and chokepoints – are common everywhere. What we know is that the interconnectivity of freight movement will expand, and that the future of transportation is one in which all forms of transportation—highways, rails, ports and airports—work together seamlessly.
Secretary Foxx's "Beyond Traffic" report from last year estimated that in the next 30 years freight volume will grow to 29 billion tons—an increase of 45 percent from 2014 levels—and he has said many times that the future of our economy rests on a robust transportation system to move materials and products.