Sometimes the U.S. Department of Transportation’s many agencies, or modes, as they are often called, can be tricky to keep up with. What does each do? Who and what does each serve?
We hope to answer questions about and introduce anyone who is interested in each mode – and a few sub-offices – in a series called 10 Things on US DOT Modes.
On Wednesday, the final 2016 Transportation Services Index (TSI) from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) showed activity in the for-hire freight sector at a record high in December. The December peak – equal to the all-time high in July – capped a rebound in 2016 freight activity from a 2015 decline that left the measure of freight shipments slightly above the December 2014 level.
The index has climbed 31.7 percent since the low point of the recession in April 2009, but it rose only 0.8 percent in the two-year period since the end of 2014. That period couples a 2.0 percent loss in 2015 with a 2.9 percent gain in 2016. During 2016, the index peaked in both July and December.
I had the privilege last week of presenting Beyond Traffic – Looking Forward to Innovation in an Era of Rapid Change, which served as the culmination of Beyond Traffic: DOT’s 30 Year Framework . Two years ago, USDOT extended an invitation to the American public to open up and have a frank discussion about the shape, size and condition of our transportation network. Beyond Traffic enabled us to see – at a high level – how our system is working, where it is deficient and what it will take to meet the needs and goals of our nation for decades to come.
I delivered the presentation at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting – the Transportation Research Board’s 96th – once again succeeded in peeling back the layers of the intricate web of our nation’s transportation system and addressing the need for transportation innovation. More than 13,000 transportation professionals from more than 70 countries came to see roughly 5,000 presentations and 800 sessions or workshops covering all modes of transportation.
Across the country, 35,092 people died on our nation’s roads in 2015. That is a 7.2 percent increase over the previous year.
To address this serious issue and begin working toward making roadway fatalities a thing of the past, Secretary Anthony Foxx, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and partners in the transportation community joined forces, enlisted the support of one of the nation’s most influential safety groups – the National Safety Council – and launched the Road to Zero Coalition.
Looking back nearly eight years ago, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) into law, as part of a series of bold actions to help revive the country during one of the worst economic crises in its history – which included the Recovery Act as well as measures to strengthen financial institutions and save the American auto industry.
As described in a new report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and introduced by Vice President Biden, roughly $48 billion of investments in our transportation system, through the Recovery Act, were part of a historic economic turnaround.
The Denver Union Station Area Redevelopment Project -- the Recovery Act grant of $28.4 million was used to help fund the $487.7 million innovative project in downtown Denver.
A little over one year ago, we launched our Smart City Challenge, asking mid-sized cities across America to share their ideas for the creation of an integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system using data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. Over 75 cities competed for the resources to connect and deploy new technologies, and now those applications and a wealth of data is available to the public in a new comprehensive report, Smart City Challenge: Lessons for Building Cities of the Future. New Smart City web tools, including an interactive map that links to information in the cities’ applications, can be used to identify trends and to share knowledge.
Did you know that truck drivers are a very necessary part of the holidays? They are the folks who make sure your grocery shelves are stocked with holiday necessities, like cookies, cakes, turkeys and potatoes. At this very moment, thousands of truckers are on the roads delivering toys, food, clothing and other essentials for our families and friends. These drivers work hard, and they need a safe place to rest as they travel. Sadly, there isn’t always enough room for them.
Last year, USDOT released Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey results, which confirmed a nationwide shortage of safe truck parking. We called for transportation stakeholders to come together and find solutions, convening the first National Truck Parking Coalition in November 2015. Since then, we’ve held coalition meetings in Utah, Texas, Missouri and Maryland. Last week, we held our second national meeting.
Our release of the draft Beyond Traffic report in early 2015 launched a national conversation around the critical challenges that our country’s transportation system will face over the next 30 years. Our educational institutions are critical to helping us solve these challenges, and today, building on that conversation, I am announcing a call for applications for entities who want to join this effort as officially designated U.S. DOT Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers.
Last month, we announced nearly $800 million in grants for eighteen projects as part of our new FASTLANE grant program. Demand for FASTLANE grant funding was through the roof – over 200 applications were submitted, totaling nearly $10 billion in funding requests. But in the last round, for every 10 projects we received, we could only pick one.
It’s clear that there’s demand to invest in strategic projects across the country. This is why we’re excited to hit the ground running on the next round of FASTLANE: eligible applicants, like states, tribes, and local governments, can apply again for FASTLANE grants from now through December 15, 2016.
From local streets to major interstates, bad weather creates hazardous conditions for drivers and slows down traffic. The disruptions and delays cause frustration, while it’s often costly to fix and maintain our highways under severe weather conditions.
In October, FHWA officially became a 'Weather-Ready' Nation Ambassador as part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) initiative aimed at improving the nation’s preparedness and strengthening resilience for extreme weather events.