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Yesterday, NASA released data indicating evidence for liquid water on Mars, and it's got a lot of people pretty excited, including me. But the reality is, whether we find water on Mars or not, we have important needs to attend to right here on Earth. And we will have to attend to those for a very long time.

One of those needs is to create and maintain a transportation system that gets people where they need to go and delivers the goods that drive our economy and sustain our lives. And while building roads and bridges might not sound as interesting as exploring the conditions for life on Mars, it's critically important to the lives Americans lead right here, right now.

Last year, President Obama charged this Department with creating the Build America Transportation Investment Center to help us accomplish that mission. And today, we are formally announcing that we have hired a talented team of individuals to operate the center, which we call "BATIC," and outlined its three areas of activity.

BATIC serves as the single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to harness federal transportation expertise, apply for federal transportation financing programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships...

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In a new DOT pilot program, New York City and Pensacola, Florida, will test delivery and pickup of goods during off-peak hours, such as nighttime, to help relieve congestion on city streets. 

The problem of local traffic is well-known to any major U.S. city; truck operators suffer when forced to crawl through crowded city streets, and residents suffer when trucks block travel lanes or parking access. With commuter traffic lighter and parking more available, off-peak hours should make delivery easier for truck drivers as well as peak commuters and people scrambling for parking. 

And thanks to DOT research, development, and deployment grants totaling $200,000, these two pilot cities will helps us test this idea... 

Night time delivery eases traffic, parking concerns

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In his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama said: “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

It is clear that action is needed to reduce transportation’s impact on the environment. According to DOT's Center for Climate Change, emissions from transportation constitute 28 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the United States –the second-highest amount of any sector. And passenger vehicle and truck travel –including transit– accounts for nearly two-thirds of those emissions.

That’s why, last Friday, the Federal Transit Administration announced $22.5 million in available funding for transit agencies nationwide to procure and deploy cleaner, more energy-efficient transit buses through our Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, which we call LoNo...

AC Transit hydrogen fuel-cell bus

Continue Reading LoNo Grants Deploy Tomorrow ››
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A year into the U.S. Secretary of Transportation's "Safer People, Safer Streets" initiative, America Walks congratulates and thanks Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the Department of Transportation for their commitment to making America a great place to walk. Through their leadership, transportation departments, city and state government, and agency decision makers are shifting priorities and perspectives toward design standards that prioritize the need to provide safe and convenient walking access for all.

It is no small feat working to ensure that all people have safe, walkable infrastructure to access their basic daily needs, whether walking to the store, the bus, or school, or for pleasure or exercise. Achieving this goal requires the tireless commitment of elected officials, government agencies, community and business leaders, and grassroots advocates. America Walks, a national non-profit organization, supports and educates local leaders and organizations to effectively work for these changes.

We are proud to be working in concert with Secretary Foxx and the Department of Transportation on achieving the goal of safe, accessible and walkable communities for everyone...

America Walks logo

Continue Reading Thank you, Secretary Foxx, ››
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Last Monday’s Sun Corridor mega-region Beyond Traffic forum in Phoenix was a fascinating and necessary discussion – with stakes that are increasingly high.

I encourage everyone to read the Beyond Traffic framework that looks ahead to 2045 and outlines the infrastructure challenges that the Southwest and other mega-regions are facing. There’s no sugarcoating this; it’s sobering. For Arizonans who share my vision for an innovation-based, globally competitive export economy for our region, this was a wakeup call.

We don’t have to imagine what kind of interruption to commerce could happen when our major highway infrastructure fails. We got a taste of it live this summer when I-10 lost a single lane out in the California desert after a flash flood washed out a bridge. Think about this, the Beyond Traffic framework tells us that 65 percent of the roads in our country are in poor condition and the same for 25 percent of our bridges.

And the only gridlock that’s worse than what Beyond Traffic envisions is what we’re seeing in Congress right now. We have a crisis. I join President Obama and Secretary Anthony Foxx in calling on Congress to pass a bill this year that extends and makes whole the Highway Trust Fund...

Mayor Stanton (right) with Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez

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Last weekend, the Federal Highway Administration, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, the Connecticut DOT (CTDOT), and New Haven area residents celebrated the opening of the highly anticipated Pearl Harbor Memorial “Q” Bridge. This $677 million bridge –of which nearly $590 million was federal funding– is a key part of the much larger $2 billion corridor project to improve I-95 through the New Haven area.

The original “Q” Bridge –so named because it spans the Quinnipiac River– was designed to accommodate up to 40,000 drivers each day. The new bridge, a 10-lane wonder, will accommodate triple that number...

Q bridge opening ceremony

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So, we know our revenues and our certainty are about as low as they’ve ever been. We know for sure that our country is growing and that we’re going to have more people accessing our roads, rails, and airports and more freight to move than ever before. Rather than having a single strategy, we need to have an all-of-the-above strategy. We need to use every financing tool available. When it makes sense, we need to turn to the private sector.

That's where Public-Private Partnerships come in. Now, it’s not that public-private partnerships haven’t been happening in U.S. infrastructure. They’ve been happening for a while. Earlier this week, I spoke with members of the Long Term Infrastructure Investors Association about the environment for these partnerships in the U.S. and DOT's efforts to improve that environment...

T-Rex light rail track work

Continue Reading To Build America, an all-of ››
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Cross-posted from a Raleigh News-Observer Op-ed published on Friday, September 18.

A similar Op-ed from Secretary Foxx and Richmond, VA, Mayor Dwight C. Jones appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, September 20.

[Last Friday] a critical segment of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor received the all-clear. By completing an environmental impact statement to develop service between Richmond and Raleigh, we are now closer to a groundbreaking than we have ever been since planning began in the early 1990s.

Now we have to ask ourselves a simple question: How do we keep the effort to build a powerful Southern rail network connecting Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Richmond to Washington, DC, and Northeast Corridor service moving full speed ahead?

It took a generation of discussions, planning and designing to get us to where we are today. But we do not have another generation to reach the finish line. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury; it is a necessity, and the clock is ticking. If we cannot figure out how to build this network soon, it is not hyperbole – it is a fact – that the South is going to be stuck in traffic for a very long time...

Amtrak Cities Sprinter built by Siemens America

Continue Reading Next step in long overdue ››
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Last Friday, I was pleased to welcome Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez and others from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Sacramento State for the first of 11 DOT Beyond Traffic megaregion forums nationwide. At the town hall style discussion, leaders from across Northern California and Western Nevada joined in a frank and productive conversation on transportation infrastructure and capacity challenges that will be facing our region in the next 30 years.

I know —and the discussion made clear— that my hometown of Sacramento has an exciting future to look forward to. Today, the city is on a roll. Our economy is recovering, and downtown Sacramento is poised to become one of the country’s most exciting urban hubs. We’re being recognized for our great progress, especially by major national outlets such as the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, and Smart Assets. And an Entrepreneur Magazine article recently ranked Sacramento as the fifth-best city in America for start-ups.

With all of the good things happening in Sacramento and the surrounding region, it’s no surprise that more people want to come here. In fact, between 2010 and 2050, the population of the Northern California megaregion is expected to increase by more than 50 percent. And this rapid growth means we need to grapple with the challenge of modernizing and expanding our transportation infrastructure to accommodate all of these new people...

Photo of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson with Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez

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Cross-posted from

Summary: Today, the Administration took a series of actions to further accelerate Federal decisions for infrastructure projects nationwide.

A central component of the President’s plan to promote economic growth and expand opportunity is building a 21st century infrastructure and modernizing the Federal permitting and environmental review process. Over the last few years, we’ve seen great progress - Federal agencies have expedited the review and permitting of over 50 major infrastructure projects, including bridges, transit, railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects, and over 30 of those projects have completed the permitting process. More efficient and expeditious processes mean timely Federal decisions and greater predictability for project sponsors and investors as well as the public. Still, ample opportunities exist to further improve the efficiency and quality of review, which would cut review timelines while also improving environmental and community outcomes.

Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget and Council on Environmental Quality issued new guidance providing direction to Federal agencies to take a series of actions to significantly expand the use of, and ultimately the number of infrastructure projects on, the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard, a tool for publicly tracking agency progress on completing Federal permitting and environmental review processes for proposed infrastructure projects...

Continue Reading Accelerating America’s ››
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