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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...

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If you've been reading the Fast Lane even occasionally in the past few months, then you know this Department is very excited about the safety and mobility benefits that connected and automated vehicle technologies promise. Just last week, for example, we announced our three connected vehicle pilot projects in New York, Florida, and Wyoming, where we'll be putting these breakthrough technologies through their paces.

On the heels of that announcement, I traveled to Frankfurt, Germany for the first-ever G7 Transport Ministers meeting, and it was clear to me and everyone visiting the Frankfurt Motor Show that other nations take connected and automated vehicle technologies pretty seriously, too...

Photo of the G7 transport ministers with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

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If you live near New York, Washington, or Philadelphia, then you've probably heard a lot about the intense preparations for the upcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to those U.S. cities. 

Security has been boosted; roads will be closed; and transit systems are expected to be crowded as hundreds of thousands of people travel to papal events. But, you should also know that the three cities hosting Pope Francis this week are off-limits to Unmanned Aircraft --what we commonly call drones.

That's right; the Department's Federal Aviation Administration has designated No-Drone Zones in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia this week...and in surrounding communities...

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Today, we're taking our Beyond Traffic national conversation on the road.

All it takes is one traffic jam or one train delay.

When it works, most of us don't think about our transportation system. The kids get to school; you get to work or the store; you order something online, and it arrives within 2 days --sometimes even faster.

But when it doesn't work, when the stress points in our transportation networks are revealed --a bridge crumbles, a rail tunnel fails-- and those transportation stress points become stress points in our own lives, we suddenly realize how important it is to have safe, reliable options for getting from one place to another...

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Cross-posted courtesy of Kansas DOT Put the Brakes on Fatalities series.

As I did last year on these pages, I must begin my "Put the Brakes on Fatalities" message by thanking the folks at the Kansas DOT, who put this valuable series together every year. The combination of professional guidance and personal narratives you'll read here for the next 20 days is powerful persuasion that all of us can --and should-- work together every day to make our roads safer for all who use them.

Last year, I wrote about the importance of individual decisions--the decision not to drink and drive, the decision to put your phone away when you're behind the wheel, the decision to keep your eye out for bicyclists and pedestrians.  And in a world where we know that more than 90 percent of all crashes are due in part to human error, there's no question that our individual choices and actions have the greatest direct impact on road safety.

But, precisely because driver error plays such a critical role in safety, we see a host of opportunities to improve highway design and automotive technology to help drivers perform better...

KDOT thunderclap advert
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When we published our latest Highway Trust Fund ticker last month, it created some confusion.  Some observers misconstrued the numbers to indicate that the Highway Account of the Trust Fund will be “out of the woods” for many months to come.  That is hardly the case.  Indeed, the trust fund could be facing rocky seas and therefore need additional funding from Congress before the end of the year, potentially as soon as this coming November. 

With the recent funding infusion that Congress authorized in July, we anticipate the cash balance of the highway account staying above zero until June 2016, but that is far from the whole story.

Given the volatility of revenues and expenditures and the uncertainty of very micro-level projections, DOT must consider employing methods to conserve cash once the balance of the highway account falls below a prudent threshold. The latest transfer from the General Fund keeps the account's cash balance above the prudent level of $4 billion, but only until November 2015.

At that time, DOT may be required to implement cash management procedures, and that will slow reimbursements to States for infrastructure work...

Chart depicting weekly highway account projected balances through F.Y. 2016

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Last week I joined the U.S. Surgeon General to release “Step It Up: A Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.” The event brought together leaders from social justice groups, healthcare, athletes, and business, all talking about the tremendous benefits of walking.

At DOT, we recognize that walking or wheelchair rolling is the beginning and end of every trip.  Whether you’re walking to your car or bus, into the airport or train station, you need to be able to do it safely.  This is more important than ever because for a growing number of people, walking or rolling is actually their primary way to get around.  In communities across the nation, safe access to jobs, schools, and essential services is critical for building ladders of opportunity.

So we’ve been hard at work improving safety for pedestrians through new initiatives, tools, and partnerships. And we'll continue to do so as we wholeheartedly embrace the Surgeon General’s call to action...

Step It Up web banner

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Technology is allowing us to reimagine our future transportation system. Advances in communications, connected vehicles, navigation, robotics, and smart cities—coupled with a surge in transportation-related data—are poised to dramatically change how we travel and deliver goods and services.

What will transportation look like 10, 20, or 30 years from now? Be part of Volpe’s newest speaker series—Beyond Traffic 2045: Reimagining Transportation—to delve into the trends that will transform transportation.

This series kicks off on Friday, September 18, and will continue the conversation started by Beyond Traffic, DOT's framework for a frank discussion about the shape, size, and condition of our transportation system...

Speaker series logo

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Last year alone, 6 million child car seats were recalled due to a safety defect. Yet far too many parents forget to register their car seats to ensure that they’re notified in case their seat is recalled. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is once again teaming up with Safe Kids Worldwide as part of Child Passenger Safety Week —September 12 to 19— to spread the word about the importance of car seat registration.

NHTSA has worked hard to impress upon parents and other caregivers that car seat registration is important and easy. Every car seat purchased comes with a postage-paid registration card you can simply drop in the mail, but NHTSA also provides a convenient way to register your seat online.

If you haven’t registered your car or booster seat with the manufacturer, you’re needlessly putting your child’s safety at risk...

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At the Federal Transit Administration, we believe public transportation doesn’t just move people; it moves communities.

And we believe that when communities invest in new transit options, they can connect their citizens to jobs, education and opportunity. However, creating that connection to opportunity doesn't happen by accident. It takes planning.

That’s why I was in Tacoma, Washington, yesterday to announce the 21 projects across the country that will be taking part in FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning...

Sketch of transit-oriented development

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