This guidance document provides clarity to DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents on conducting DOT drug-and-alcohol testing given concerns about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). We, as a nation, are facing an unprecedented public health emergency that is straining medical resources and altering aspects of American life, including the workplace. The nation’s transportation industries, which are not immune to the impacts and disruptions resulting from the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, are playing a vital role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
DOT is committed to maintaining public safety while providing maximum flexibility to allow transportation industries to conduct their operations safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency.
The below guidance on compliance with the DOT and modal drug and alcohol testing programs apply during this period of national emergency.
For DOT-regulated employers:
As a DOT-regulated employer, you must comply with applicable DOT training and testing requirements. However, DOT recognizes that compliance may not be possible in certain areas due to the unavailability of program resources, such as collection sites, Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), Medical Review Officers (MRO) and Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP). You should make a reasonable effort to locate the necessary resources. As a best practice at this time, employers should consider mobile collection services for required testing if the fixed-site collection facilities are not available.
If you are unable to conduct DOT drug or alcohol training or testing due to COVID-19-related supply shortages, facility closures, state or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments, you are to continue to comply with existing applicable DOT agency requirements to document why a test was not completed. If training or testing can be conducted later (e.g., supervisor reasonable suspicion training at the next available opportunity, random testing later in the selection period, follow-up testing later in the month), you are to do so in accordance with applicable modal regulations. Links to the modal regulations and their respective web pages can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/agencies.
If employers are unable to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing due to the unavailability of testing resources, the underlying modal regulations continue to apply. For example, without a “negative” pre-employment drug test result, an employer may not permit a prospective or current employee to perform any DOT safety-sensitive functions, or in the case of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you cannot hire the individual (See 14 CFR § 120.109(1) and (2)).
Additionally, DOT is aware that some employees have expressed concern about potential public health risks associated with the collection and testing process in the current environment. Employers should review the applicable DOT Agency requirements for testing to determine whether flexibilities allow for collection and testing at a later date.
As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of the employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i). However, as the COVID-19 outbreak poses a novel public health risk, DOT asks employers to be sensitive to employees who indicate they are not comfortable or are afraid to go to clinics or collection sites. DOT asks employers to verify with the clinic or collection site that it has taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Employers should revisit back-up plans to ensure the plans are current and effective for the current outbreak conditions. For example, these plans should include availability of collectors and collection sites and BAT, and alternate/back-up MRO, as these may have changed as a result of the national emergency. Employers should also have regular communications with service agents regarding the service agent’s availability and capability to support your DOT drug and alcohol testing program.
For DOT-regulated employees:
If you are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, you should contact your medical provider and, if necessary, let your employer know about your availability to perform work.
If you have COVID-19-related concerns about testing, you should discuss them with your employer.
As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of the employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i).
For service agents:
As a collector, BAT, laboratory, MRO, or SAP, you should continue to provide services to DOT-regulated employers if it is possible to do so in accordance with state or local mandates related to COVID-19. Should you have concerns about COVID-19 when testing or interacting with employees, please follow your company policy, directions from state and local officials, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. Department of Transportation published a final rule April 23 that makes technical corrections to regulations governing drug testing for safety-sensitive employees to ensure consistency with recent amendments made to DOT’s “Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs,” which recently added requirements for testing for oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone.
According to the release from DOT, the new changes to the department’s regulations make it necessary to refer to these substances, as well as morphine, 6-acetylmorphine and codeine by the term “opioids” rather than “opiates.”
This final rule amends the term in the FAA, FTA and PHMSA regulations to ensure that all DOT drug testing rules are consistent with one another and the mandatory guidelines for the testing program.
An executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, April 10, tasks the Federal Department of Transportation with creating a new rule in a little more than three months’ time that permits super-cooled liquid natural gas (LNG) to be transported by rail.
“The Secretary of Transportation shall propose for notice and comment a rule, no later than 100 days after the date of this order, that would treat LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail tank cars,” the order states. “The Secretary shall finalize such rulemaking no later than 13 months after the date of this order.”
Natural gas trade and rail carrier groups have lobbied for years for the ability to supply LNG to the northeastern U.S. via rail. Current Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) safety rules do not allow the transport of LNG in rail tanker cars.
It is transported by truck and pipelines with one exception — Alaska Railroad was given a special authorization in 2015 to transport LNG by rail in portable containers transported on flatcars, Bloomberg News reports.
Project includes new passenger platforms in Middlebury, Vergennes and Burlington, Vermont
BURLINGTON, Vt. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg joined Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch at an event today to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide $10 million to extend Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express passenger train service all the way to Burlington, Vermont. Currently, the service begins in New York City and stops in Rutland, Vermont.
“Transportation is always about the future. If we’re just fixing today’s problems, we’ll fall further and further behind. We already know that a growing population and increasing freight traffic will require our system to do more,” said Secretary Foxx. “In this round of TIGER grants, we selected projects that focus on where the country’s transportation infrastructure needs to be in the future: safer, more innovative, and more targeted to open the floodgates of opportunity across America.”
The $10 million grant will fund approximately 11 miles of new rail track along the state-owned line and three passenger platforms in Middlebury, Vergennes, and Burlington, Vermont. The project will also reduce long-term maintenance costs for the state, allow passenger trains to operate up to 60 miles per hour and enhance safety at multiple railroad crossings.
The project is one of 39 federally funded transportation projects in 34 states selected to receive a total of nearly $500 million under the Department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2015 program. Secretary Foxx announced project selections for this round of TIGER grants on October 29, 2015. The Department received 627 eligible applications from 50 states and several U.S. territories, including tribal governments, requesting 20 times the $500 million available for the program, or $10.1 billion, for needed transportation projects.
“This is a day Burlington has been waiting a long time for – this funding will help not only take us back to a time when passenger rail extended to Burlington, but more importantly, it will take us into the future,” said Feinberg.
With this latest round of funding, TIGER continues to invest in transformative projects that will provide significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions. The awards recognize projects nationwide that will advance key transportation goals such as safety, innovation and opportunity.
This grant is part of the seventh round of TIGER grants since 2009, bringing the total grant amount to more than $4.6 billion provided to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects supporting rural and tribal communities. Demand for the program has been overwhelming: to date. The U.S. Department of Transportation has received more than 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for transportation projects across the country.
Click here for additional information on individual TIGER grants.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the publication in the Federal Register of a Final Rule to help further safeguard commercial truck and bus drivers from being compelled to violate federal safety regulations. The Rule provides FMCSA with the authority to take enforcement action not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.
“Our nation relies on millions of commercial vehicle drivers to move people and freight, and we must do everything we can to ensure that they are able to operate safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This Rule enables us to take enforcement action against anyone in the transportation chain who knowingly and recklessly jeopardizes the safety of the driver and of the motoring public.”
The Final Rule addresses three key areas concerning driver coercion: procedures for commercial truck and bus drivers to report incidents of coercion to the FMCSA, steps the agency could take when responding to such allegations, and penalties that may be imposed on entities found to have coerced drivers.
“Any time a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, freight-forwarder, or broker demands that a schedule be met, one that the driver says would be impossible without violating hours-of-service restrictions or other safety regulations, that is coercion,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “No commercial driver should ever feel compelled to bypass important federal safety regulations and potentially endanger the lives of all travelers on the road.”
In formulating this Rule, the agency heard from commercial drivers who reported being pressured to violate federal safety regulations with implicit or explicit threats of job termination, denial of subsequent trips or loads, reduced pay, forfeiture of favorable work hours or transportation jobs, or other direct retaliations.
Some of the FMCSA regulations drivers reported being coerced into violating included: hours-of-service limitations designed to prevent fatigued driving, commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements, drug and alcohol testing, the transportation of hazardous materials, and commercial regulations applicable to, among others, interstate household goods movers and passenger carriers.
Commercial truck and bus drivers have had whistle-blower protection through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1982, when the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) was adopted. The STAA and OSHA regulations protect drivers and other individuals working for commercial motor carriers from retaliation for reporting or engaging in activities related to certain commercial motor vehicle safety, health, or security conditions. STAA provides whistleblower protection for drivers who report coercion complaints under this Final Rule and are then retaliated against by their employer.
In June 2014, FMCSA and OSHA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between the agencies regarding the anti-retaliation provision of the STAA. The Memorandum allows for the exchange of safety, coercion, and retaliation allegations, when received by one agency, that fall under the authority of the other.
For more information on what constitutes coercion and how to submit a complaint to FMCSA, see: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/coercion. Please note: the Final Rule takes effect 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register.
This rulemaking was authorized by Section 32911 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (MCSA), as amended.
The public, commercial drivers, motor carriers, and other industry members may file a safety, service, or discrimination complaint against a household goods moving company, bus, or truck company, including hazardous materials hauler or a cargo tank facility, by calling toll free 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Time. Complaints may also be submitted through FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint website at: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.
FMCSA was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Its primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. For more information on FMCSA’s safety programs and activities, visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety, and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional information is available at: http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit: http://www.osha.gov.
The U.S. Senate on Nov. 10, 2015, passed a motion opposing the allowance of twin 33-foot trailers on federal highways in a 56-31 vote.
The amendment, “Motion to Instruct Conferees of the Highway Bill on Double 33-Foot Trailer Trucks,” would instruct conferees to allow the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary to issue a federal rule allowing for these longer trucks only if USDOT finds that such an increase would not have a net negative impact on public safety.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) last week unveiled its decisions in awarding the seventh round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The agency announced it had awarded a total $500 million in grants to 39 projects in 34 different states, with some projects crossing state lines.
The awards followed the departments evaluation of 627 eligible applications, requesting a total $10.1 billion worth of projects — 20 times the program’s available funding.
Dollar value of goods moved on the transportation network greater than ever before
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) released the first product from the newest version of the “Freight Analysis Framework,” the most comprehensive publicly available data set of freight movement. The new data show an increase in the dollar value of goods moved on the transportation network. Earlier this week the Department released the draft National Freight Strategic Plan, which offers specific policy proposals and solutions to address the growing challenges of moving freight in this country and this data underscores the need for a plan like this.
“A transportation network that can support the freight needs of this country is essential to a healthy economy,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “The need for infrastructure investment is growing more urgent every day.”
Secretary Foxx emphasized the importance of freight to the economy in the Department’s study of transportation trends, “Beyond Traffic”, conducted earlier this year. The study pointed to a 45 percent growth in freight in the United States by 2040.
The newly baselined Freight Analysis Framework estimates show that in 2012, nearly 17.0 billion tons of goods worth about $17.9 trillion were moved on the transportation network, which equates to 47 million tons of goods valued at more than $49 billion a day moved throughout the country on all transportation modes – compared to $45 billion per day in 2007. Trucks remain the most commonly used mode to move freight, transporting 64 percent of the weight and 71 percent of the value in 2012 – compared to 65 percent of the value in 2007.
“Once again the importance of highways to the economy is underscored even as the passage of a long-term reauthorization bill continues to be uncertain,” Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau said. “Efficient freight movement will be at the core of business success for decades to come.”
“BTS’ Transportation Services Index issued last week shows that freight on the nation’s transportation system has grown by almost a third since the low point during the recession in April 2009,” Bureau of Transportation Statistics Director Patricia Hu said. “Today’s release of the new Freight Analysis Framework, built on BTS’ Commodity Flow Survey, is the first in a series of tools that will help officials at all levels of government plan for continued freight growth.”
The “Freight Analysis Framework” includes data on the amount and types of goods that move by land, sea and air between large metropolitan areas, states and regions. It is designed to provide information on national level freight flows across the nation’s transportation network. This information helps the public and private sectors at all levels better understand freight movement; transportation planners use it to target resources to improve operations or increase capacity. Today’s product focuses on the origin and destination component of FAF. Additional elements are planned for future release.
More detail on the “Freight Analysis Framework” is available here.
The Department also continues to welcome feedback and comment on the draft National Freight Strategic Plan. Click here to submit your thoughts and to learn more about the draft plan.
WASHINGTON – If left untreated, sleep apnea poses serious risks to anyone who sits behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle or climbs into the cab of a locomotive.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently initiated a rulemaking project to evaluate – and treat, when applicable – workers who exhibit risk factors for sleep apnea. The agencies began work Oct. 1 on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, according to a Department of Transportation regulatory report.
SEATTLE – Because the future of our economy rests on a strong transportation system to move materials and products, today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released the draft National Freight Strategic Plan, which offers specific policy proposals and solutions to address the growing challenges of moving freight in this country. Now open for public comment, the draft Plan is an essential step for continuing to support the nation’s economy through the efficient movement of goods, while recognizing and responding to future infrastructure challenges. He was joined by Senator Maria Cantwell at Seattle Public School Headquarters.
Every day, millions of trucks, trains, aircraft, and ships move across the United States, transporting and delivering materials and products that are essential to our way of life and our economy. According to the most recent data released from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, freight shipments last month reached an all-time high and were 30.4 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession. While this increase in freight traffic is good news for our economy, concerns remain that our infrastructure cannot accommodate continued growth: in the next 30 years the population of the United States is expected to grow by 70 million people, and freight traffic is expected to increase by 42 percent by 2040.
“With an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure that is unfortunately showing the effects of age and underinvestment, the need for us to have a national freight plan could not be more urgent,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
This draft Plan is a first-of-its-kind document that takes a comprehensive look at the Nation’s freight needs and future challenges and offers a roadmap for improvements. It proposes solutions and strategies to address the infrastructure, institutional, and financial bottlenecks that hinder the safe and efficient movement of goods. It also identifies many successful programs already in place to improve freight planning and investment, and proposes new programs and ideas that could make more progress possible. Importantly, it also recognizes the benefits of establishing a strong freight program in the next reauthorization bill.
“Congestion on rails, surface streets, and at our ports across the Pacific Northwest costs businesses billions of dollars a year and gives an edge to competitors around the globe. The National Freight Strategic Plan means places like Seattle and Tacoma will be part of our national strategy to quickly move products through traffic congested areas,” said Senator Cantwell.
These strategies include efforts to reduce congestion and increase efficiency while improving safety and reliability, and reducing adverse impacts on the environment and communities. This will include incorporating new technologies allowing for better quality data collection and faster analysis of freight routes, travel times, and infrastructure capacity. It also means breaking down institutional impediments, such as conflicting priorities at the Federal, State and local levels, and unnecessarily complex and lengthy permitting and approval processes. Building on existing efforts to improve coordination and synchronization across various levels of government, the draft Plan presents opportunities and potential pathways to enhance freight planning.
Specific strategies include:
Ensure dedicated freight funding: The draft Plan emphasizes the importance of a dedicated freight program that would improve the movement of freight and meet regional economic demand and would require or incentivize State Freight Advisory Committees, State Freight Plans, and cross-jurisdictional/cooperative planning. The GROW AMERICA Act would provide $18 billion over six years through two dedicated, multimodal freight grant programs for targeted investments.
Identify major trade gateways and multimodal national freight networks/corridors: U.S. DOT is releasing a draft Multimodal Freight Network (MFN) map to inform planners, private sector stakeholders, and the public about where major freight flows occur and where special attention to freight issues may be most warranted. U.S. DOT and the U.S. Department of Commerce have monitored and analyzed major trade gateways and freight corridors for decades, but the draft MFN combines the most critical modal components and shows the connections between them.
Facilitate multijurisdictional, multimodal collaboration and solutions: U.S. DOT will continue its work to support local, State, and interagency collaboration, including close cooperation with port authorities, private sector stakeholders, and agencies in Canada and Mexico; sharing best practices for freight planning; supporting advisory committees and public forums with stakeholders; and encouraging effective use of funding available at the national level.
Ensure availability of better data and models: U.S. DOT will continue to develop and deploy newer and more advanced freight data resources to the planning community and advance the measurement and analysis of transit times for different commodities from a multimodal, origin-to-destination perspective. Congress could enhance U.S. DOT’s authority to collect intermodal freight data by giving U.S. DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics the authority to assemble intermodal freight movement data under the Intermodal Transportation Data Program, as proposed in the GROW AMERICA Act.
Improve safety and support the adoption of new transportation technologies: U.S. DOT is undertaking new and innovative efforts to improve freight transportation safety. The Department recently announced the formation of a National Coalition on Truck Parking to improve commercial driver safety. U.S. DOT will also efforts to adopt new and exciting transportation technologies, including autonomous vehicles that promise to allow for safer and more reliable freight transportation.
Develop the next generation freight transportation workforce: U.S. DOT is committed to promoting economic opportunity through high-quality transportation jobs as part of the President’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative. Efforts include developing freight skills for State transportation agency and MPO staff through a growing body of resources and guidance on freight planning, and pushing for greater authority to develop workforce plans.
The most recent surface transportation reauthorization law, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan laying out a course of action to meet National Freight Policy goals designed to improve the movement of freight in the U.S. The Department welcomes the public to provide feedback and comment on the draft National Freight Strategic Plan. To submit your thoughts and to learn more about the draft plan, visit www.transportation.gov/freight.
WASHINGTON – With federal surface transportation funding set to expire on May 31, thousands of stakeholders will rally together for Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term funding solution. In support of the third annual Infrastructure Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is participating today in kick-off events in Washington and will then head out to meet with state and local leaders, business leaders, and academics in Tennessee, California, and Iowa.
“Our nation’s economy and the way we live both depend on having strong infrastructure,” Secretary Foxx said. “But the truth is that our current levels of investment are falling short of what is needed just to keep our existing system safe and in good condition. To make matters worse, over the past six years, Congress has passed 32 short-term measures that have stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects.”
Today, Secretary Foxx also sent letters to State Transportation leaders to notify them that all federal participation in highway transportation infrastructure construction will stop after May 31 if the current federal funding authorization is allowed to expire. Without authority to continue funding agency operations, States will not be reimbursed for construction costs or receive technical support and will have to shoulder the burden themselves. Click here to see a copy of the letters.
Throughout the week, Secretary Foxx will highlight an alternative to that funding shortage, which is the Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, a surface transportation bill that would provide six years of funding certainty and grow overall investment by 45 percent. The $478 billion proposal would increase funding in our roads, highways and transit systems, and for the first time would provide dedicated funding for passenger rail, rail safety, and a national freight program.
Secretary Foxx’s trip will begin in Tennessee, a state that has a $6 billion backlog in highway projects, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He will visit two projects that would improve safety for drivers and reduce traffic congestion, but both are delayed due to inadequate federal funding. On Tuesday, May 12, in Knoxville, Secretary Foxx will meet with Mayor Madeline Rogero and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization to discuss the proposed Alcoa Highway project. Later in the morning, the Secretary will hold a media availability with Knoxville Mayor Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at the Knoxville Convention Center. He will then travel to Memphis where he will be joined by Mayor AC Wharton, and the Memphis Urban Planning Organization to discuss the Lamar Avenue project.
On Wednesday, May 13, Secretary Foxx will visit Delphi Labs in California’s Silicon Valley to announce new connected automation safety initiatives. This visit will build on the national conversation he launched earlier this year with the release of Beyond Traffic, a report that examines how new technologies and public policy will shape U.S. transportation systems to enable new safety, mobility, growth, and economic benefits for our future.
The next day he will travel to Los Angeles to join Mayor Garcetti at the construction site of the soon-to-be-finished Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility. The project was funded by the Federal Transit Administration and demonstrates the potential of increased transit investment to create jobs and greener infrastructure.
Secretary Foxx’s Infrastructure Week tour will conclude Friday, May 15, in Des Moines, Iowa, with a visit to the Southeast Connector Project, which is a crucial element in a series of infrastructure enhancements that will revitalize industrial areas, create jobs, and improve road safety.
“When you have had 32-short term measures in six years, any funding bill put forward that is actually big enough to meet the country’s challenges will be labeled by some as unrealistic,” Secretary Foxx said. “But I also think it is unrealistic to think that if we continue underinvesting in infrastructure that we will be able to meet the needs of 70 million more people in 30 years. We are in a big ditch, and we have to take some bold steps forward and solve it with a big solution.”
Infrastructure Week has nearly 80 affiliate organizations in business, labor, and advocacy, including the National Association of Manufacturers, American Society of Civil Engineers, AFL-CIO, Brookings Institution, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Building America’s Future. More than 40 events will be held to highlight the need and benefits of modernizing America’s infrastructure.
SOMERVILLE, Mass. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. The extension will provide faster and more efficient travel to jobs in downtown Boston and will serve some of the region’s most densely populated communities. Secretary Foxx and Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan participated in a ceremony to commit the funds with Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and MBTA, and other officials.
“This project will put time back in the lives of commuters along this corridor, but the real story is about the potential for change this smart investment will bring for residents,” said Secretary Foxx. “We are proud to support projects like this one because when you connect people to more jobs, education, and medical care, you create the ladders to opportunity that strengthen families and the communities in which they live.”
The 4.7-mile light rail extension will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. The project will serve some of the Boston region’s most heavily populated areas not currently served by rail transit – where 26 percent of residents do not own or have access to cars.
“The Green Line extension will improve transit options for residents of Somerville and Medford by eliminating the need for bus to rail transfers and providing a one-seat transit ride to thousands of jobs in downtown Boston and along the Green Line,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator McMillan. “This project will make a huge difference for thousands of residents along the corridor who need and deserve reliable access to jobs and educational opportunities throughout the Boston metropolitan area.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation will contribute approximately $996 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program (New Starts) funding over the course of the $2.3 billion project. State funding sources will cover the remainder.
MBTA estimates the new extended light rail line will provide approximately 37,900 daily trips when the extension opens in 2021. The project will include construction of six new stations, purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles, construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, construction of a community bicycle and pedestrian path in Somerville, and relocation of some existing commuter rail track.