Posts Tagged ‘Department of Transportation’

U.S. House acts to block LNG transport by rail

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, June 24, passed an amendment that would block President Donald Trump’s Executive Order in April to the Department of Transportation to fast-track the allowance of liquid natural gas (LNG) to be transported by rail.

“In its never-ending quest to put profit ahead of people, the Trump administration is now trying to bypass long-standing requirements for transportation of LNG by putting it into 100-car trains that roll through densely-populated areas at upwards of 50 miles per hour,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D – Ore.), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who introduced the amendment. “This plan is beyond absurd. Should even one tank car get punctured, the results could be devastating. My amendment blocks this brazen attempt by the administration. I urge the Senate to follow suit and stop a massive catastrophe before it’s too late.”

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) moved ahead earlier this month with a plan to authorize six trains, of 100 or more rail tank cars, to move LNG for export through densely populated areas. DeFazio’s amendment would block this special permit as well, which currently is open for comment until July 8.

Read more on this story at Freightwaves.com.

Read an earlier story about the executive order.

Alternate Legislative Director receives DOT committee appointment

SMART Transportation Division Alternate Legislative Director Greg Hynes was appointed to the federal Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking (ACHT) in early October.

“Your experience and leadership as a representative of rail and labor will add valuable insights that will help further ACTH’s mission,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a letter announcing Hynes’ appointment.

The committee, required by the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, consists of stakeholders from trafficking advocacy organizations, law enforcement and trucking, bus, rail, aviation, maritime and port sectors, including industry and labor.

“Members of this committee have extensive experience in combating human trafficking, and the Department looks forward to receiving their recommendations and reports,” Chao said in a DOT release.

According to the release, the new 15-member committee is to provide recommendations to Chao before July 3, 2019 on:

  • Strategies for identifying and reporting instances of human trafficking.
  • Recommendations for administrative or legislative changes to use programs, properties, or other resources owned, operated, or funded by the Department to combat human trafficking.
  • Best practices for state and local transportation stakeholders based on multidisciplinary research and promising evidence-based models and programs, including sample training materials and strategies to identify victims.

The committee’s first meeting will be announced at a future date.

A member of Local 1031, Hynes has served as alternate legislative director since 2014 and has served on the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). His complete biography is here.

FRA proposes safety updates for high-speed rail

Provides new path for passenger safety to be evaluated and achieved; Agency invites comments on proposal 

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WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed updates for the passenger train safety standards used in the United States as the country looks to add high-speed trains that can travel up to 220 miles per hour and replace its aging passenger fleet. The proposed updates represent nearly a decade of work by FRA’s passenger rail division.

“As several regions of the United States build faster passenger rail service, the trains on those tracks must keep passengers safe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “To do that, we want to allow manufacturers to innovate and achieve all-new levels of safety. These proposed changes put us on track to do just that.”

The proposed updates would establish a new category of passenger equipment, Tier III, for trains traveling up to 220 mph. The updates would offer an alternative method for evaluating how well passengers and crews are protected in an accident, often called crashworthiness. The public, railroad industry, railroad labor, manufacturers and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback and comment on the proposed rule during the next 60 days.

In addition to measuring a train’s crashworthiness based on whether it meets current prescriptive strength standards, the proposed changes would allow a train’s crashworthiness to be evaluated based on it meeting an equivalent level of safety achieved through crash energy management technology or other innovative engineering methods.

“We look forward to hearing from everyone on how this proposal can help our country build a stronger passenger rail network – one that is not only faster but allows for new technologies to make passenger trains even safer,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.

Although Tier III trains will be required to have exclusive track to operate at speeds above 125 mph, the new standards will allow Tier III trains to safely share track with current Tier I and Tier II commuter, intercity and Acela trains. Compatibility between equipment types is a key strategy to allow trains to share existing corridors to reach downtown stations.

Click here to view the proposed updates.

DOT Takes Action on Movement of Energy Products

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.

Actions

  • Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
  • Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
    • PHMSA is issuing a safety advisory reminding carriers and shippers of the specific types of information (*listed below) that they must make immediately available to emergency responders;
    • FRA and PHMSA are issuing a joint safety advisory requesting that specific information (*listed below) also be made readily available to investigators;
    • FRA is sending a request to the Association of American Railroads asking the industry to develop a formal process by which this specific information (*listed below) becomes available to both emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator, and;
    • FRA submitted to the Federal Register a notice proposing to expand the information collected on certain required accident reports, so that information specific to accidents involving trains transporting crude oil is reported.
  • DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

“Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.”

The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

*Information required by PHMSA Safety Advisory:

  • Basic description and technical name of the hazardous material the immediate hazard to health;
  • Risks of fire or explosion;
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident;
  • Immediate methods for handling fires;
  • Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire;
  • Preliminary first aid measures; and
  • 24-hour telephone number for immediate access to product information.

*Information sought by U.S. DOT in the event of a crude-by-rail accident: 

  • Information on the train consist, including the train number, locomotive(s), locomotives as distributed power, end-of-train device information, number and position of tank cars in the train, tank car reporting marks, and the tank car specifications and relevant attributes of the tank cars in the train.
  • Waybill (origin and destination) information
  • The Safety Data Sheet(s) or any other documents used to provide comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information for Class 3 flammable liquids
  • Results of any product testing undertaken prior to transportation that was used to properly characterize the Class 3 flammable liquids for transportation (initial testing)
  • Results from any analysis of product sample(s) (taken prior to being offered into transportation) from tank car(s) involved in the derailment
  • Date of acceptance as required to be noted on shipping papers under 49 CFR § 174.24.
  • If a refined flammable liquid is involved, the type of liquid and the name and location of the company extracting the material
  • The identification of the company having initial testing performed (sampling and analysis of material) and information on the lab (if external) conducting the analysis.
  • Name and location of the company transporting the material from well head to loading facility or terminal.
  • Name and location of the company that owns and that operates the terminal or loading facility that loaded the product for rail transportation.
  • Name of the Railroad(s) handling the tank car(s) at any time from point of origin to destination and a timeline of handling changes between railroads.

Since 2013 there have been 23 crude-related train accidents in the United States with the majority of incidents occurring without the release of any crude oil product.

 

DOT takes action on movement of energy products

DOT_Logo_150px

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

These actions represent the latest in a series of more than two dozen that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months to address the significant threat to public safety that accidents involving trains carrying highly flammable liquids can represent. Today’s announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids. 

Actions 

  • Preliminary investigation of one recent derailment indicates that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration is therefore recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
  • Recent accidents revealed that certain critical information about the train and its cargo needs to be immediately available for use by emergency responders or federal investigators who arrive on scene shortly after an incident. To address the information gap, DOT is taking several actions to remind both the oil industry and the rail industry of their obligation to provide these critical details
    • PHMSA is issuing a safety advisory reminding carriers and shippers of the specific types of information (*listed below) that they must make immediately available to emergency responders;
    • FRA and PHMSA are issuing a joint safety advisory requesting that specific information (*listed below) also be made readily available to investigators;
    • FRA is sending a request to the Association of American Railroads asking the industry to develop a formal process by which this specific information (*listed below) becomes available to both emergency responders and investigators within 90 minutes of initial contact with an investigator, and;
    • FRA submitted to the Federal Register a notice proposing to expand the information collected on certain required accident reports, so that information specific to accidents involving trains transporting crude oil is reported.
  • DOT has determined that public safety compels issuance of an Emergency Order to require that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 miles per hour in High Threat Urban Areas. Under the EO, an affected train is one that contains: 1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 or more loaded tank cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and, 2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid.

“These are important, common-sense steps that will protect railroad employees and residents of communities along rail lines. Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

“Our first priority is to prevent these accidents from ever happening,” stated Acting PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters. “But when accidents do occur, first responders need to have the right information quickly, so we are reminding carriers and shippers of their responsibility to have the required information readily available and up to date.”

The actions taken today coincide with actions being taken by other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

*Information required by PHMSA Safety Advisory:

  • Basic description and technical name of the hazardous material the immediate hazard to health;
  • Risks of fire or explosion;
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an accident;
  • Immediate methods for handling fires;
  • Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire;
  • Preliminary first aid measures; and
  • 24-hour telephone number for immediate access to product information.

*Information sought by U.S. DOT in the event of a crude-by-rail accident: 

  • Information on the train consist, including the train number, locomotive(s), locomotives as distributed power, end-of-train device information, number and position of tank cars in the train, tank car reporting marks, and the tank car specifications and relevant attributes of the tank cars in the train.
  • Waybill (origin and destination) information
  • The Safety Data Sheet(s) or any other documents used to provide comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information for Class 3 flammable liquids
  • Results of any product testing undertaken prior to transportation that was used to properly characterize the Class 3 flammable liquids for transportation (initial testing)
  • Results from any analysis of product sample(s) (taken prior to being offered into transportation) from tank car(s) involved in the derailment
  • Date of acceptance as required to be noted on shipping papers under 49 CFR § 174.24.
  • If a refined flammable liquid is involved, the type of liquid and the name and location of the company extracting the material
  • The identification of the company having initial testing performed (sampling and analysis of material) and information on the lab (if external) conducting the analysis.
  • Name and location of the company transporting the material from well head to loading facility or terminal.
  • Name and location of the company that owns and that operates the terminal or loading facility that loaded the product for rail transportation.
  • Name of the Railroad(s) handling the tank car(s) at any time from point of origin to destination and a timeline of handling changes between railroads.

Since 2013 there have been 23 crude-related train accidents in the United States with the majority of incidents occurring without the release of any crude oil product.

FTA Lists Alcohol, Drug-Testing Rates for 2015

Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan has determined that the random drug-testing rate will remain at 25 percent for 2015 and the random alcohol-testing rate for 2015 will remain at 10 percent for transit employees performing safety-sensitive functions, according to the Federal Register.

The determination was made due to a “positive rate” lower than one percent for random drug test data for the past two years. The random alcohol violation rate was lower than 0.5 percent for the last two years.

The random drug rates for the two preceding years are 0.74 percent for 2013 and 0.87 percent for 2014. The random alcohol rates for the two preceding years are 0.12 percent for 2013 and 0.14 percent for 2014.

On Jan. 1, 1995, FTA required large transit employers to begin drug and alcohol testing employees performing safety-sensitive functions and submit annual reports by March 15 of each year beginning in 1996. The annual report includes the number of employees who had a verified positive for the use of prohibited drugs, and the number of employees who tested positive for the misuse of alcohol during the reported year.

The original rules required employers to conduct random drug tests at a rate equivalent to at least 50 percent of their total number of safety-sensitive employees for prohibited drug use and at least 25 percent for the misuse of alcohol.

However, the rules provided the drug random testing rate may be lowered to 25 percent if the ‘‘positive rate’’ for the entire transit industry is less than one percent for two preceding consecutive years. The alcohol provisions provided the random rate may be lowered to 10 percent if the ‘‘violation rate’’ for the entire transit industry was less than 0.5 percent for two consecutive years.

Click here to review the Federal Register notice.

The U.S. Department of Transportation provides answers to employees’ Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.dot.gov/odapc/employee.

 

Foxx sends six-year transportation bill to Congress

anthony_foxx

Foxx

WASHINGTON – Over the past year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has visited more than 100 communities and heard one common story – shared by all – about crumbling infrastructure and dwindling resources to fix it with. Secretary Foxx March 30 sent to Congress his solution to this problem: a long-term transportation bill that provides funding growth and certainty so that state and local governments can get back in the business of building things again.

The GROW AMERICA Act reflects President Obama’s vision for a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization bill that invests in modernizing America’s infrastructure. As lawmakers try to fund transportation beyond May 31, GROW AMERICA provides members of the House of Representatives and Senate with the option of increasing investment in surface transportation by 45 percent, and supporting millions of jobs repairing and modernizing roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“All over the country, I hear the same account: the need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply,” Secretary Foxx said. “Our proposal provides a level of funding and also funding certainty that our partners need and deserve. This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures.”

A recent study by the department, Beyond Traffic, confirmed that America’s infrastructure is failing. Drivers spend more than 40 hours annually stuck in traffic. Sixty-five percent of the roads they drive on are in less than good condition; one out of four bridges they cross needs to be replaced; and public transit faces an $86 billion repair backlog. The report also revealed that, over the next 30 years, Americans will ask more of our transportation system than ever before. The United States’ population will grow by 70 million; freight traffic will increase by 45 percent.

But rather than doing more, funding uncertainty has forced many states to do less instead. Tennessee, Arkansas, Delaware, and Wyoming have delayed more than a billion dollars in projects. Georgia, alone, has set aside $715 million in projects, while Mississippi has shifted its transportation dollars only to smaller maintenance efforts. As it stands, total investment in our roads, bridges, and transit systems is falling well below the level that is needed to keep them in good condition.

The GROW AMERICA Act will chart a new course. For one, it will increase investment in all forms of transportation, which will restore the ability of states and local governments to plan for both needed repairs and efforts that increase capacity to meet future demand. Additionally, the proposal ensures that taxpayer dollars are used more effectively and efficiently, and brings federal transportation policy into the 21st century. It will:

  • Increase safety across all modes of transportation, including by almost tripling the budget of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s automobile defects office;
  • Establish an $18 billion freight program so American businesses can compete effectively in a global economy and grow;
  • Increase connections so that more Americans have access to jobs and education, including by raising transit investment by 76 percent;
  • Put in place a transparent and clear permitting process to speed up project delivery;
  • Increase innovative financing by strengthening Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programs, by making more Private Activity Bonds (PABS) available, and by nearly doubling funding for our TIGER grant program; and
  • Empower local government by providing more funding to high-performing Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).
  • “It is clear to me that transportation is still a bipartisan issue, and I am really encouraged to see members of both parties working to get something done,” Secretary Foxx said. “During these next two months, though, all of us who work in Washington need to be relentless in trying to get to ‘yes’ on a bill that is truly transformative and that brings the country together. And frankly, governors and state officials as well as mayors and local officials all over the country need to continue being relentless, too, by continuing to raise their voices in support of a transportation bill that meets both their immediate and long-term needs.”

For state fact sheets, and to learn how much more transportation funding your state will have if Congress passes the GROW AMERICA Act, go to www.dot.gov/growamerica.

Foxx unveils Obama’s infrastructure investment plan

DOT_Logo_150pxU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Feb. 2 announced President Obama’s $94.7 billion Fiscal Year 2016 Budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The proposal makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.

Speaking at a town hall at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Foxx highlighted the president’s budget proposal, which notably includes funding to advance research and autonomous vehicles, while announcing his report “Beyond Traffic,” a look at future trends and choices that will impact America’s transportation system over the next three decades.

“Our budget proposal lays the foundation for a future where our transportation infrastructure meets the demands of a growing population and an economy that depends on the free flow of freight,” Foxx said. “This administration is looking towards the horizon – the future – but to do this we need Congress’ partnership to pass a long-term reauthorization to put Americans to work rebuilding America.”

According to the Department of Transportation, the last year has demonstrated the pitfalls of repeated short term funding extensions and is why the president’s FY 2016 budget creates additional certainty with a six-year $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal that would improve America’s highways, ports, and transit networks. The proposal would better ensure these systems are safe, and support the development of a high-performance rail system. The proposed budget would be paid for in part with $238 billion from transition revenues generated from pro-growth business tax reform.

In the last six years, according to the DOT, Congress has passed 32 short-term measures that have failed to adequately address the needs of our aging infrastructure. To keep our roads and bridges in good condition, all levels of government – federal, state, and local – will need to spend at a minimum $124 billion annually; current spending is at $100 billion. For transit projects alone, there is an $86 billion backlog in maintenance needs that grows each year.

In order to tackle the country’s infrastructure deficit and support job creation, the six-year budget includes $317 billion to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, an increase of almost 29 percent over current investment in our highway system. To help meet growing demand, the budget provides more than $143 billion to create and improve transit and passenger rail service.

The budget provides $18 billion for multi-modal freight programs to strengthen America’s global competitiveness and support the president’s “Made In America” trade agenda. In 2013, exports of goods and services reached an all-time high of $2.3 trillion, supporting 11.3 million good paying American jobs across the country. Building on the success of the 2010 National Export Initiative (NEI), the Administration has launched NEI/NEXT to help more American businesses export to more overseas markets.

To encourage private sector investment, the budget includes $1 billion annually for credit assistance for nationally or regionally significant transportation projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Program. The budget would also create a new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Innovative Finance to manage the Department’s credit programs and help projects develop plans to utilize innovative financing.

The FY 2016 budget reinforces the department’s commitment to safety, creating a new Office of Safety Oversight housed in the office of the secretary to improve safety efforts across all modes of transportation. The six-year proposal increases funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by an average of 20 percent over current investment levels, providing $6 billion to address safety defects on our highways. This includes $31 million in FY 2016 for NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) to enhance our ability to monitor data, find defects sooner, and strengthen NHTSA’s ability to conduct investigations of vehicles with suspected defects.

To improve safety on commuter systems, the budget provides $3 billion over six years to help with the implementation of Positive Train Control. In addition, $29 billion would be provided for targeted infrastructure investments for deficient roads and bridges through the Critical Immediate Safety Investments Program, including $7.35 billion for rural communities.

Building on the department’s commitment to safety on America’s roads, the budget invests $935 million over six years in the future of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), including $158 million in FY 2016 to accelerate research on vehicle automation and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology.

As cars exchange safety data on speed, direction, and relative position to surrounding vehicles and infrastructure, research estimates that V2V technology has the potential to reduce 70 to 80 percent of vehicle crashes. Such innovative technology will help American workers and goods travel faster and safer on our roads.

To modernize and improve NHTSA’s data collection tools, the budget includes $41.7 million in FY 2016 to establish data collections sites and expand the agencies analytical capacity.

In addition, the FY 2016 budget includes $956 million to continue efforts to modernize America’s air-traffic control system and help transition from a ground-based radar system to a more accurate, satellite-based system of the future, known as NextGen.

NFAC issues recommendations for freight system

DOT_Logo_150pxWASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx July 14 announced receipt of a report from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) that makes recommendations to improve the performance of the Nation’s freight transportation system. These recommendations will be used to inform the development of the DOT’s National Freight Strategic Plan.

The report was submitted to the Secretary ahead of a two-day NFAC meeting in Washington, D.C., beginning July 15. The NFAC was established by Secretary LaHood in June 2013.

SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich is a member of the committee. 

“Our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on a transportation network that can move freight safely and efficiently, especially as we are expected to move double the current amount by 2050,” said Secretary Foxx. “I appreciate the work of the advisory committee – their suggestions will help inform the department’s work improving our country’s future freight system.”

The 81 recommendations made by NFAC, now under review by the department, include suggestions to improve safety and security across the freight rail network, highlight funding needs and challenges, and call for increased streamlining processes and better collection of data and research. The NFAC also proposed exploring ways to improve collaboration for multijurisdictional freight planning, developing goals related to freight safety, and addressing workforce development needs as the Department develops the National Freight Strategic Plan. A copy of the report may be found here: http://www.dot.gov/policy-initiatives/national-freight-advisory-committee/recommendations-us-department-transportations.

Together, these recommendations highlight the need for increased transportation investment and greater certainty to support the kind of research and planning such projects would require. Earlier this year, Secretary Foxx submitted the GROW AMERICA Act for consideration by Congress. This Act will make critical investments to help improve the safe and efficient movement of freight across all modes of transportation – highway, rail, port, and pipeline by providing $10 billion over four years for targeted investments in the nation’s transportation system to improve the movement of freight and by giving shippers, transportation providers, and freight workers a real seat at the table for making investment decisions. The GROW AMERICA Act will also better align planning among the Federal government, states, ports, and local communities to improve decision-making and help improve the U.S.’s long-term competitiveness by taking steps to achieve President Obama’s call to reduce the time it takes to break ground on a new transportation project.

To help DOT promote a safe, economically efficient, and environmentally sustainable freight transportation system, the NFAC provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters related to freight transportation in the United States including (1) implementation of the freight transportation requirements of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21); (2) establishment of the National Freight Network; (3) development of a National Freight Strategic Plan; (4) development of strategies to help States implement State Freight Advisory Committees and State Freight Plans; (5) development of measures of conditions and performance in freight transportation; (6) development of freight transportation investment, data, and planning tools; and (7) legislative recommendations. More information on the NFAC may be found here: http://www.dot.gov/nfac.

Feds say oil train details not security sensitive

oil-train-railBILLINGS, Mont. – U.S. transportation officials said Wednesday that details about volatile oil train shipments are not sensitive security information, after railroads have sought to keep the material from the public following a string of fiery accidents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.

Read the complete story at the Brandon Sun.