At USDOT, our hearts have been heavy with concern for everyone affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. Many of our colleagues live in the affected areas and many more have been worried about loved ones who do. So we are connected to these communities along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast not just through our professional responsibilities, but also in deeply personal respects.
On Labor Day, at 8:14 a.m., I received an e-mail containing the USDOT Crisis Management Center’s (CMC) Hurricane Harvey Executive Summary #21. Two minutes later, CMC’s Executive Summary #1 for Hurricane Irma appeared in my inbox. Irma was over 900 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I looked at those reports and thought about all the people in the CMC and in USDOT’s modes who had begun their hurricane-related efforts before Harvey made landfall. Now they were mobilizing in the face of another historic storm. There was no doubt they would perform just as effectively in response to Irma as they had with Harvey. A strong sense of duty pervades this department and there is no greater calling than helping people in a disaster.
Many of America’s leading companies are exploring one of the most exciting innovations in recent transportation history—automated driving systems (ADS)—commonly referred to as automated or self-driving vehicles.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma's destructive path through the Caribbean, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is supporting storm recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a fully-staffed mobile air traffic control tower at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas. The tower was fully operational at 9:40 a.m. this morning and is now supporting relief flights by the U.S. military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, general aviation and limited commercial flights.
The existing air traffic control tower at the airport was badly damaged by the storm, and controllers were managing air traffic from a tent on the airfield for several days before the mobile tower arrived this morning. The FAA is shuttling controllers back and forth from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas every day to staff the facility.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic and horrible day – a day when terrorists attacked America. I was U.S. Secretary of Labor at the time, holding an early morning staff meeting. When we first heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, many thought it must have been an accident, not a deliberate coordinated attack! We were so innocent. But the reality soon dawned upon us as we watched-- in stunned disbelief-- the images of the Twin Towers coming down. We tried to reach the White House for confirmation -- but couldn’t reach anyone because they were being evacuated. As people poured out of the U. S. Capitol, and we streamed out of DOL, we looked south toward Virginia to see the smoke rising from the Pentagon. Later we learned of the heroism of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.
Now is a great time to review back-to-school safety tips. However they travel to school—by bus, family car, carpool, on bike, or by foot—we need to talk to our kids about safety. From 2006 to 2015, there were 301 school-age children (18 and younger) killed in school transportation-related crashes. Make sure you discuss the tips below with your child to keep them safe on the road to and from school.
By any measure, school buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school. But it’s critical that children are taught how to stay safe when they’re around school buses. Over the last decade, nearly two-thirds of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses. Teach your child to always wait five giant steps from the road, look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming, and wait until the driver signals it’s safe to board.
Starting today, the U.S. Department of Transportation is launching #TransportationTuesday, a new vehicle to highlight the untold stories and work throughout the Department and its operating administrations. Through our posts, we hope to share the Department’s stories in written word and graphic detail. You can find our content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the #TransportationTuesday webpage – including our first post on first responders and emergency preparedness.
Though we’ve all seen constant coverage of the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, it is still shocking to actually be on site and see the devastation. On Thursday, I accompanied Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, and other cabinet members (Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin; Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta; Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke) to the region. Air Force 2 landed in Corpus Christi (2 hours and 45 minutes from Houston — the closest we could get) where we were met by Governor and Mrs. Greg Abbott. Governor Abbott is providing strong leadership. We drove to Rockport and took an Osprey helicopter to Victoria – two of the communities severely impacted when Hurricane Harvey made landfall last Saturday.
Deadhorse, Alaska – 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle – is about as far outside the DC Beltway as you can be, in every respect, and still be in the United States. Deadhorse’s semi-arid tundra, 10:00 p.m. sunsets and astounding array of wildlife that I’m told exists in the adjacent area (including caribou, polar bears and musk oxen) were the backdrop for an interesting and informative visit last week to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) at Prudhoe Bay.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, former USDOT Deputy Secretary Vice Admiral Tom Barrett, and PHMSA’s Acting Regional Director Kim West accompanied me to TAPS Pump Station 1 and Milepost 0.
I was just in Omaha - the site of the largest stretch of the solar eclipse “path of totality” that gripped the nation’s attention from coast-to-coast last Monday - to participate in a roundtable discussion with transportation and construction leaders in Nebraska. We held a broad-ranging and informative discussion that was made possible by U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, who has been a tireless advocate for transportation needs in her state.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (left) with Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer in Omaha. Photo courtesy of Senator Fischer’s office
Dangerous high wind conditions can be a major cause of highway crashes and trucks blowing over, putting lives at risk and, in the case of places such as Wyoming, jeopardizing America’s freight.