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You call it October 29; here at DOT, we’re calling it “TIGER day.”

Earlier in the year, I announced the availability of $500 million in funding for the seventh round of our Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. Within a few months, we reached out to State, County, and local governments; transit agencies; port authorities; metropolitan planning organizations; and other project sponsors with pre-application instructions, benefit-cost analysis guidelines, a best-practices webinar, and other resources to ensure that communities across America with unfunded transportation needs had a fair shot at a TIGER grant.

The applications rolled in --627 eligible applications in all, from 50 states, several U.S. territories, and Tribal governments. Applicants requested a total of $10.1 billion for needed transportation projects, 20 times the program's available funding.

And today, we're announcing the 39 projects selected...

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Last week, street artists repainted much of Denver with a Back to the Future theme, commemorating the day that Marty McFly and Doc traveled to in their time machine. But, at the "Transportation Matters" Colorado DOT summit today in Denver, I had to break the news that, no, we do not have hover-cars yet, or flyways.

Soon however, we are likely to have cars that talk to each other and even drive themselves. In fact, we could see automation completely transform how we travel and how we move freight.

Secretary Foxx with Governor Hickenlooper and Colorado Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt

The potential innovations we see on the horizon aren't just fun and games. If we're going to continue moving the dial on transportation, and if we want to avoid being overwhelmed by the growth we’re going to experience as a country, we will absolutely need these technologies...

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The Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) is considered the most comprehensive and widely used freight transportation data source in the United States.

Every 5 years, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) update the FAF based on numbers from BTS’ Commodity Flow Survey. And this month, we updated the FAF once again.

The new FAF includes 2012 dollar value and tonnage of freight shipments by mode of transport: truck, rail, water, air and pipeline.  Projections through 2045 will be available in the upcoming months...

Freight containers await shipping

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It is one of this Department's most special assets, and perhaps our most unsung. I'm talking about the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system --particularly the U.S. locks I had the pleasure and privilege of visiting yesterday.

If bundled together, the eight states and two Canadian provinces that share this system would comprise the world's third largest economy, behind only the U.S. and China.  The bi-national Seaway is a vital, environmentally sustainable artery for trade into and out of the United States and Canada, supporting $34.6 billion of economic activity, providing America's Opportunity Belt with access to world markets, and supporting and 227,000 jobs. The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), which maintains and operates the two U.S. locks, delivers plenty of return value on America's investment in the Seaway.

Touring the Eisenhower Lock

I went to Massena, NY, yesterday to join SLSDC Administrator Betty Sutton in honoring local emergency responders and the men and women of the SLSDC. When the cruise ship Saint Laurent struck a bumper at the Eisenhower Lock, their quick and effective response ensured that passengers were able to receive the medical care they needed and the vessel itself was able to resume service in less than 48 hours...

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Over the weekend this Department released a National Freight Strategic Plan that we hope will wake the country up and get us moving forward.

Port ofSeattle

Our freight network has been one of the great strengths of our country. Millions of Americans wake up in the morning and go to jobs operating trucks, trains, aircraft, ships, and barges. Freight directly supports 44 million jobs.

And our freight workers do more than ensure goods move successfully from one point to another. What they really do is move our economy. Because the cost of moving goods in America is one of the lowest in the world, the jobs these men and women do give us a competitive advantage over other nations.

Our freight infrastructure should be as good as our workers are, as our businesses are. But it’s not. It’s crumbling. And, we're making matters worse by continuing to underinvest.

It's time for this generation to shoulder the burden, face our transportation challenges, and keep improving our Nation's freight network...

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When we issued our draft report, Beyond Traffic, we started a conversation on the trends and choices facing the Nation’s transportation infrastructure over the next three decades. The report outlines a number of challenges –an anticipated 70 million more Americans by 2045, a 45 percent increase in freight volume, frequent extreme weather events-- and predicts nationwide gridlock unless we act soon to manage those challenges.

On Tuesday, I was pleased to honor as White House Champions of Change in Transportation 11 individuals whose innovative efforts have helped us do exactly that.

These Champions from across the country, various modes of transportation, and unique backgrounds have demonstrated exemplary leadership and creativity. Their work has led to the kinds of innovative solutions required to usher in a 21st Century American transportation system that is safe, effective, and accessible...

2015 Champions of Change in Transportation

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You might not expect the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to write about what her agency is doing to help more people join the middle class, but that is exactly what I’m about to do. With safety oversight and regulatory support from FMCSA, trucking connects people to opportunity.

Last month, I was honored to speak at the Women in Trucking conference in Dallas about the important issue of connecting people in all communities to economic opportunities.  I met so many women there who were involved in all facets of the trucking industry –from fleet owners, to drivers, to logistics and marketing professionals.  

Most of the women I talked to are creating better opportunities for themselves and their families, and they have found it in the ever-expanding trucking industry...

Daphne Jefferson and Women In Trucking president Ellen Voie
Deputy Administrator Jefferson with Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women In Trucking.
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As our population grows by 70 million over the next 30 years, we know that a boom in freight demand is coming.

At the same time, we know that the median age of America's truck drivers --the folks who we'll need to move and deliver that freight-- is higher (49) than the median age of all workers (42), so we can expect a wave of driver retirements just when we'll need more and more drivers. We also know that the trucking industry is already experiencing a shortage of drivers right now, with the American Trucking Associations indicating a need to hire 47,500 drivers this year alone, just to meet existing demand.

To trucking industry experts, the combination of those trends sounds like a perfect storm. 

Fortunately, America's military Veterans, the men and women who have already served their nation so well, might be called to serve again --this time behind the wheel. And last week, our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced nearly $2.3 million in grants to 13 technical and community colleges across the country to help train veterans and their families for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Photo of college classroom with students, some veterans

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While the Federal Highway Administration continues to innovate toward the future, we also know it’s important to address issues that have concerned roadway engineers in the past.  Design flexibility is one of those areas that have interested State DOTs and local governments for a while. And today, we're proposing to revise current policies to encourage road design that is better tailored to community needs.

Flexibility means that state, city, and county engineers can develop projects --such as lower-speed roads-- that meet the needs of a full range of users -drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.  We also want those projects to support communities’ environmental needs and to connect people to work, school, health care, and other essential services.  

These benefits are at the heart of our emphasis on making sure transportation projects create access to opportunity for all users of America's roads...

Seattle's Dexter Road

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Last month here in the Fast Lane, we announced our Beyond Traffic 2045: Reimagining Transportation speaker series. And on September 18, Secretary Foxx and Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Gregory Winfree kicked off this extended look at the future of how America moves.

We've designed this series to inform the ongoing national dialogue on Beyond Traffic, DOT’s 30-year framework for the future. To give you an idea of the series --and to share some of our first speaker's expert insights-- we put together a video below highlighting the series’ first talk by Andrew McAfee. McAfee is co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on the Digital Economy and co-author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

McAfee’s ideas on finding the right mix of human and technological strengths will have significant implications for what our transportation system will look like in 2045, and we urge you to check out the video below.

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