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A Dec. 31 deadline for railroads to equip all trains with crash-avoidance technology known as “positive train controls” won’t be extended, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Feb. 11.
Testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Foxx said his department is “continuing to hold the industry’s feet to the fire in getting PTC done as quickly as possible” instead of allowing “a blanket extension.”
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held its first hearing of the 114th Congress yesterday, as it prepared to draft a new surface transportation bill to replace the existing MAP-21 extension that expires May 31.
In his testimony to the committee, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned that the United States is falling behind in innovation and economic competitiveness because of the condition of its aging transportation 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.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Dec. 11 issued an industry-wide Safety Advisory to help ensure railroads adhere to federal regulations regarding maximum authorized train speed limits. The advisory contains four recommendations to ensure railroads comply with speed restrictions through appropriate operating policies, procedures and effective implementation.
“Safety is our highest priority, and the Metro-North crash illustrates how important it is for railroads to follow speed limits,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This Safety Advisory, along with the other enforcement measures we’ve taken, will remind all employees of the need to follow speed limits and will help improve safety across all rail lines.”
The Safety Advisory provides guidance on four recommended measures FRA expects railroads to take action on immediately. Among them are:
Review the circumstances of the Dec. 1, 2013, Spuyten Duyvil derailment with their operating employees.
Provide instruction to employees during training classes and safety briefings on the importance of compliance with maximum authorized train speed limits and other speed restrictions.
Evaluate results of operational data regarding speed testing.
Reinforce the importance of communication between train crewmembers located in the controlling locomotive, particularly during safety-critical periods when multiple tasks are occurring and during extended periods of inactivity.
“Although the industry’s overall safety record is good, the Metro-North accident is a stark reminder of the need to remain vigilant in ensuring compliance with operational speed limits,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Over the last decade, train accidents have declined by 43 percent nationally, a result of our rigorous safety regime, but we must always do better as we drive continuous safety improvement.”
Last week, the FRA issued Emergency Order 29 (EO 29) to Metro-North Commuter Railroad (MNCW) directing it to take specific, immediate steps to ensure its train crews do not exceed speed limits. EO 29 requires Metro-North to modify its existing signal system to ensure that operators obey speed limits, and to provide two qualified railroad employees to operate trains where major speed restrictions are in place until its signal system is modified. The FRA also issued a letter calling on Metro-North to launch a safety stand-down with all employees and to fully implement the confidential close-call reporting system, which has helped improve rail safety on other lines. Metro-North has written the FRA to outline its plans to comply with the directives, and the FRA will continue working directly with Metro-North staff as they implement the provisions.
The FRA had already increased its oversight and enforcement of Metro-North’s rail lines following the May 2013 crash, including additional inspections of its lines and audits of Metro-North’s operations and compliance with federal regulations. FRA is also planning to conduct an extensive investigation of the carrier’s safety compliance with all regulated railroad safety disciplines.
To read the complete Safety Advisory 2013-08, click here.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a confirmation hearing on transportation secretary nominee Anthony Foxx May 22, according to Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).
President Obama announced April 29 Anthony Foxx as his nominee for the next Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx is currently the mayor of Charlotte, N.C, which he helped turn around since taking office in 2009. Both the city and country were going through a “bruising economic crisis,” President Obama said.
“The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” he said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.
“Since Anthony took office, they’ve broken ground on a new streetcar project that’s going to bring modern electric tram service to the downtown area. They’ve expanded the international airport. And they’re extending the city’s light rail system. All of that has not only helped create new jobs, it’s helped Charlotte become more attractive to business.”
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus operation is manned by SMART Transportation Division operators and mechanics.
President Obama said that one of the best ways we can grow our economy and rebuild opportunity for the middle class is by putting more Americans back to work by investing in rebuilding our infrastructure.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a “Fix-It-First” program to put more people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs.
“We need to modernize the infrastructure that powers our economy. We need more high-speed rail, and Internet, and high-tech schools, and self-healing power grids, and bridges, and tunnels, and ports that help us ship products all around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in America. That’s how we’re going to attract more businesses. That’s how we’re going to create more jobs. That’s how we’re going to stay competitive in this global economy.”
President Obama also thanked current Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for his hard work and dedication to public service.
“Over the past four years, thanks to Ray’s leadership, we’ve built or improved more than 350,000 miles of road — enough to circle the world more than 14 times. We’ve upgraded more than 6,000 miles of rail — enough to go coast to coast and back. We’ve repaired or replaced more than 20,000 bridges, and helped put tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job.
“He is a good man, and has been an outstanding public servant and a model for the kind of bipartisan approach to governance that I think we need so badly in this town,” President Obama said.
Foxx’s transportation credentials include his push for expanding the city’s LYNX streetcar to UNC-Charlotte, creating the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility that transfers cargo between trucks and trains, and building a new runway at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
Foxx was born on April 30, 1971, in Charlotte. He was first elected to the Charlotte City Council in 2005, and was elected mayor on November 3, 2009, winning 51.5 percentof the vote and defeating his City Council colleague, Republican John Lassiter. He won a second term on November 8, 2011, winning more than two-thirds of the vote against Republican Scott Stone.