2015 another year of hard work and tangible accomplishments;
From U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx:
By now, we’ve shared several looks back at 2015 from some of our Operating Administrations –FAA, FHWA, and FTA– and from our Office of Research and Technology. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the terrific work they accomplished last year for their specific mode of transportation.
As Secretary, it has been a privilege helping shape these initiatives as well as leading a number of significant projects that cut across multiple modes.
As it has been since day one, DOT’s highest priority is safety, and 2015 was no exception. From the proposed rules under our new transit safety oversight authority and the innovative Mayors Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets –our biggest push yet for bicyclist- and pedestrian-safe infrastructure– to the final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail and the recently announced modernization of our New Car Assessment Program, this Department has remained laser-focused on improving safety in every mode of transportation.
DOT has cut an impressive path on innovation, too. Early in the year, we launched our Beyond Traffic blue paper on transportation trends and challenges projected in the next 30 years. This catalyzed a year-long, nationwide conversation about how we can best meet those challenges. Also in 2015, we launched the Build America Transportation Investment Center to help transportation projects better leverage innovative funding sources so they can move off the drawing board and on to delivering real benefits. More recently, we were able to demonstrate that government can adapt quickly to technological change by announcing new rules for registering Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones and building the online system to manage those hundreds of thousands of registrations in fewer than 2 months.
We also made significant headway in the area of opportunity. I’ve made no secret that access to transportation is an absolute prerequisite for access to opportunity –whether that opportunity is in the form of a job, education, or even something as basic as a full-service grocery store. In addition to connecting communities to opportunity, good transportation infrastructure, carefully planned with community input, can bring opportunity into communities in the form of land use and economic development. Finally, transportation is itself a source of good jobs. That’s why we’ve worked hard this year to help transit agencies engage in workforce development, help local workers get hired for transportation projects, and help communities get access to the technical assistance required for careful transportation planning through our LadderSTEP program.
Of course, we also spent much of the year working to pass a long-term transportation bill that provides states, counties, transit agencies, and local communities with the funding certainty they need to green light long overdue transportation projects. From our February GROW AMERICA bus tour that crisscrossed the Southeast –and featured Vice President Joseph Biden! – to a host of meetings and phone calls with local leaders, Members of Congress, and other stakeholders, we worked day and night to see a bill passed by Congress and signed by the President. Last month, we saw that marathon effort finally bear fruit in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act –the first long-term transportation bill enacted in more than 10 years. I know a lot of Fast Lane readers made their voices heard during this long legislative process, and I thank you for everything you did to make the FAST Act a reality.
As Fast Lane readers know, DOT has been enthusiastically exploring the value of connected vehicles, connected infrastructure, and vehicle automation for several years. I spent a lot of the year myself thinking about smart transportation and learning more about smart cities and smart vehicles. From Silicon Valley –where I met with folks at Google and Autodesk– and Austin, Texas (thank you, Movability Austin and Ridescout!), to India, Germany, and Israel, I saw amazing examples of technologies that promise to make transportation safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. In September we announced grants to three different communities to see how connected vehicle and connected infrastructure technology can work together to ease congestion, expedite freight, and improve transit. And as the year closed, we took the next step forward by launching our Smart City Challenge to see which mid-sized American city can come up with the best, data-driven ideas to improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable. I can’t wait to see what’s possible when communities use technology to connect their transportation assets into an interactive network
I want to thank everyone at DOT for another tremendous year of hard work and tangible accomplishments that benefit everyone who uses America’s transportation system. I know that, 12 months from now, we will once again have plenty to celebrate, and I hope you’ll continue to stay tuned right here in the Fast Lane to see what comes next.