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Sunday, August 31, 2008

News Digest

BTS Releases Reports on 2006 National Census of Ferry Operators. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released Highlights of the 2006 National Census of
Ferry Operators, a special report about ferry service in the U.S. The report covers how many people travel by ferry, states with the most ferry passengers, characteristics of the average ferry and other subjects. It can be found at BTS has also released a technical report, Multiple Imputation of Missing Passenger Boarding Data in the National Census of Ferry Operators, which can be found at

Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad Receives FRA Grant to Replace Cross Ties. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding a $100,000 grant to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad that will be used to replace approximately 1,625 cross ties along a 25-mile segment of track between Cloe and Creekside, PA. These funds will supplement a larger ongoing rehabilitation project to upgrade this line with safety improvements that will permit trains that deliver coal to the Edison Mission Homer City Power Plant to operate at higher speeds. In addition, the railroad is providing $25,000 in matching funds. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.

FRA Grant to Support Rail Upgrades at Washington State Intermodal Center. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding $882,000 to the Washington Department of Transportation for rail improvements at the Big Pasco Industrial Center. This intermodal facility is owned by the Port of Pasco and located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The grant funds will be used to construct a new track junction with the BNSF Railway, a new highway-rail grade crossing at Sacajawea Park Road, and 1 ½ miles of new track within the industrial center to be used for rail car switching operations. These upgrades are part of a larger project at the facility intended to consolidate the increasing volumes of intermodal, agricultural, and other freight rail traffic in the region. Contact: Warren Flatau (202) 493-6024.

St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad to Install New Rail in Vermont with FRA Grant. The St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad is receiving a $924,510 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to supplement an ongoing project to upgrade about 18-miles of track between North Stratford and Norton, VT. The grant funds will be used to install approximately three miles of continuous welded rail that support safer operations, heavier rail car loads and higher track speeds. In addition, the railroad is providing $231,128 in matching funds. Contact: Rob Kulat (202) 493-6024.

FRA Grant Supports Continued Research into PTC Wireless Communication Systems. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is issuing a $1.4 million grant to the Railroad Research Foundation to continue development and testing of wireless communications devices and systems for use with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technology. CBTC is a form of Positive Train Control (PTC) that can automatically control train speed and movements to ensure safe movements should a locomotive engineer fail to take appropriate action. In addition to advancing technical development of such technologies, grant funds will be used to: continue work on a portable remote operation device so employees on the ground can authorize a PTC-equipped train to enter a work zone with speed restrictions; design and build a Universal Onboard Platform that will allow a locomotive to easily switch between different PTC operating systems; and develop a higher performance data radio to ensure that wireless communications are reliably transmitted and received.


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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aviation Safety Investigation Report - Preliminary

On 25 July 2008, at 0922 local time, a Boeing Company 747-438 aircraft (registered VH-OJK) with 365 persons on board, departed Hong Kong International airport on a scheduled passenger transport flight to Melbourne, Australia. Approximately 55 minutes into the flight, while the aircraft was cruising at 29,000 ft (FL290), a loud bang was heard by passengers and crew, followed by the rapid depressurisation of the cabin. Oxygen masks dropped from the overhead compartments shortly afterward, and it was reported that most passengers and crew commenced using the masks. After donning their own oxygen masks, the flight crew carried out the 'cabin altitude non-normal' checklist items and commenced a descent to a lower altitude, where supplemental breathing oxygen would no longer be required. A MAYDAY distress radio call was made on the regional air traffic control frequency. After levelling the aircraft at 10,000 ft, the flight crew diverted to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila, where an uneventful visual approach and landing was made. The aircraft was stopped on the runway for an external inspection, before being towed to the terminal for passenger disembarkation.

Subsequent inspection of the aircraft by the operator's personnel and ATSB investigators, revealed an inverted T-shaped rupture in the lower right side of the fuselage, immediately beneath the wing leading edge-to-fuselage transition fairing (which had been lost during the event). Items of wrapped cargo were observed partially protruding from the rupture, which extended for approximately 2 metres along the length of the aircraft and 1.5 metres vertically.

After clearing the baggage and cargo from the forward aircraft hold, it was evident that one passenger oxygen cylinder (number-4 from a bank of seven cylinders along the right side of the cargo hold) had sustained a sudden failure and forceful discharge of its pressurised contents into the aircraft hold, rupturing the fuselage in the vicinity of the wing-fuselage leading edge fairing. The cylinder had been propelled upward by the force of the discharge, puncturing the cabin floor and entering the cabin adjacent to the second main cabin door. The cylinder had subsequently impacted the door frame, door handle and overhead panelling, before falling to the cabin floor and exiting the aircraft through the ruptured fuselage.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Federal Aviation Administration to Review Legality of Port

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today initiated an administrative proceeding, known as a notice of investigation, to determine whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will violate federal regulations if it follows through with its proposal to bar airlines from using takeoff and landing slots at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airports if the slots are acquired by auction.

Under law, airports receiving federal grants are required to provide airlines with reasonable and nondiscriminatory access to their facilities. As part of its investigation, the FAA will evaluate whether the Port Authority's Aug. 4 proposal is unlawfully interfering with the airlines' ability to access takeoff and landing slots at the airports by discouraging bidders from participating in slot auctions.

If the proposal by the Port Authority is in fact discouraging open access to the airports, the Port Authority may no longer be eligible for FAA grants, or payments under existing grants, until the matter is resolved. The FAA could also issue an immediate cease and desist order requiring the Port Authority to grant access to the airports. The three airports received a total of $27 million in grants from the FAA's Airport Improvement Program during fiscal year 2008.

The FAA is scheduled to auction two slots previously allotted to now-bankrupt EOS Airlines at Newark on Sept. 3. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced two proposed rulemakings in April and May of this year that, if finalized, would auction a limited number of takeoff and landing slots at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia Airports.

The slot auctions are necessary to ensure that all airlines have an opportunity to compete in the New York markets now that the number of flights at each of the three major regional airports has been capped. The auctions will preserve competitive airline service, help lower fares for service to and from the region, and give new carriers an opportunity to enter the market.

The FAA asked the Port Authority to file its response within 30 days.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

U.S. Department of Transportation Approves Utah's I-15 Corridor

WASHINGTON - Utah's plans to build the I-15 Corridor in Utah County can now move forward, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today.

Last Friday, Federal Highway Administration officials signed a "Record of Decision" (ROD) - a document representing the final clearance of the project's exhaustive environmental review - giving the state clearance to begin right-of-way acquisition, design and construction.

"This marks a major milestone for the region's thousands of drivers anxious for relief from traffic tie-ups," said Secretary Peters.

The project, part of an 840-mile route connecting San Diego, Calif., to Salt Lake City that was chosen last year as one of six "Corridors of the Future" by the U.S. DOT has long been a priority of the Federal Highway Administration and the Utah Department of Transportation.

"Residents of growing communities in Utah and southern Salt Lake counties are eager for more transportation capacity to ease trips to and from work, school and home. Among the several projects to add roadway and transit options for travelers in the region, this I-15 expansion is critical. It's good to see the effort moving along," said U.S Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

"Today's announcement is a tremendous step toward meeting Utah's transportation challenges. As many Utah counties experience growing pains, transit projects, such as the completion of the I-15 corridor, will help ease traffic congestion on roads and improve the safety of motorists. I applaud DOT for recognizing the critical transportation needs of our state," said U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah).

While the environmental review process for a project this size typically takes seven to eight years, the review for this project was completed in less than four, the Secretary noted. The project's current environmental review began with the publication of its "notice of intent" in the Federal Register on Sept. 2, 2004.

"The savings in time achieved on this project so far underscores the benefits of the President's environmental streamlining process," said FHWA Administrator Tom Madison. "The real beneficiaries of this improvement are the thousands of drivers who will see relief from traffic congestion sooner rather than later."

The I-15 project, which includes widening and reconstruction of 43 miles of highway with 22 interchanges, extends north from the South Payson interchange in Utah County to 123rd South Interchange in Salt Lake County. When completed, the project will relieve area traffic congestion and improve safety. A locally funded commuter rail project is already under way to complement the congestion relief this project will bring to the Utah County corridor.


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jail sentences handed to motor fraudsters

The Driving Standard's Agency (DSA) can reveal further success in their efforts to deal with individuals who fraudulently sit the practical driving test on behalf of named candidates.

Today at Croydon Crown Court two men were jailed for conspiracy to obtain driving test past certificates by deception.

38-year-old Charles Egonye of Stondon Park, London, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to sitting the practical driving test on behalf of 18 people between February 2004 and March 2006.

Christopher Reid, 34, of Forest Hill, London, was described in court as a 'facilitator.' He was found guilty at a trial last week of using both his credit card and car in order to aid Egonye in his activities.

Egonye was handed a 12 month jail term and Reid, 34, a six month sentence.

Judge John Tanzer described a full driving licence as 'a very valuable document which was considered an appropriate form of identity.'

The DSA continues to warn that it is committed to the prosecution of offenders in order to preserve public safety and the integrity of the driving test procedure.

As well as a driving qualification, many people seek possession of a full U.K Driving Licence to establish proof of their identity to gain other identity documents and a credit standing within this country.

The DSA investigates all reported cases and works closely with the police and criminal justice agencies to identify offenders and bring them to justice.

Andrew Rice, Head of Fraud & Integrity for the Driving Standards Agency said: "Tackling impersonations is a key priority for the Agency as offenders presents a significant danger to road safety. Through fraudulent and criminal means, impersonators gain entitlement to drive for those who are unable or unwilling to undertake the assessment to prove that they meet the required standard to drive on our roads."


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Next Generation of Air Traffic Controllers to Benefit From New Tower Control Simulators

OKLAHOMA CITY - Thousands of air traffic controller trainees in Oklahoma City will become the first in the country to train using new state of the art simulators beginning September 2nd, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced today.

"Choosing the best candidates is important, giving them the best training and technology possible is essential," Secretary Peters said. "These simulators will give us better air traffic controllers and will make our skies safer."

The Secretary noted that the simulators, which are being installed at the Federal Aviation Administration's Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, will give controller trainees a near-lifelike learning environment. She added that the new technology was needed to help prepare the record number of new controllers the federal government will be hiring and training over the coming years.

"This is a huge step toward making our skies safer and the air traffic control system even more efficient. Oklahoma City has long been the home of air traffic control training for our nation and I am thrilled that we are now home to this exciting new technology," said Congresswoman Mary Fallin, who was with the Secretary during the visit to the facility.

The Secretary and Congresswoman visited the facility to see first hand how the 1,451 students at the facility are learning to become new air traffic controllers and aircraft inspectors. During the facility, Secretary Peters saw a demonstration of the new simulators in action and observed several classes.

"I welcome today's announcement by Secretary Peters regarding the addition of new simulators at the FAA academy in Oklahoma City," said Senator James Inhofe. "This dynamic training tool is designed to provide a real life training experience and is expected to significantly cut training times. Importantly, these new simulators will mean that the FAA academy will continue to be the premier training facility for Air Traffic controllers."

The Secretary also learned how the new simulators will allow the facility's instructors to simulate air traffic conditions at virtually any airport in the world. "When our trainees take their place in the field, they will be among the very best in the world. Secretary Peters also noted that the new simulators will not only be used to train new controllers, saying that the high-tech systems will also be used to help current controllers sharpen their skills and prepare for new assignments.


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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boston Traffic and Transit to Improve Under New Transportation Reform Plan

SOMERVILLE, Mass. - Plans to build a new Orange Line transit station with the help of private sector funds would likely get a boost under a plan to reform the nation's surface transportation programs, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced during a visit to the city today.

The Secretary said that under the new plan, state and local officials would have significantly greater resources and flexibility to design, finance and complete meritorious projects. She noted that as a result, projects like the new station would have an easier time getting built under the new plan than they would under today's approach to transportation projects.

"If this station is as good as local sponsors say it is, it will get reviewed, cleared and funded more easily and more rapidly under our plan than under the current broken federal system," Secretary Peters said. "Getting traffic moving in our largest cities must be a priority, not a pain."

The Secretary said central to the reform plan is a new Metropolitan Mobility Program for Boston and other major urban areas with populations over half a million people. The program would give mayors and local officials a direct payment of federal funds and unprecedented flexibility to invest the federal dollars in their most pressing transportation needs, whether it is expanding transit systems or new highways, she said.

"Cities like Boston shouldn't have to pray for earmarks or plead for niche grants simply to get commuters moving again," Secretary Peters said. "Our plan fixes that by making urban congestion a priority and giving local leaders the money and flexibility they need to get traffic flowing again."

Instead of having to slice and dice federal dollars to qualify for many different niche programs with a tangle of different rules, the Secretary said, Boston's leaders would receive one lump federal funding allocation with one overarching criteria - that the projects stand up to a benefit-cost analysis. She said projects that can demonstrate positive results for commuters and good investments for taxpayers would be rewarded, instead of the current system that rewards rampant earmarks, political muscle and bridges to nowhere.

As part of the focus on urban congestion, the reform plan also provides incentives for innovation in cities, like Boston, willing to try something new. The plan would create a Metropolitan Innovation Fund that rewards cities willing to combine a mix of effective transit investments, dynamic pricing of highways and new traffic technologies.

"We want to make it easier for communities like this to generate funds for other, equally ambitious new transit and highway projects," Secretary Peters said.

The Secretary said the plan lays out the Administrations' reform framework, and is intended to spur local, state and federal debate about how best to incorporate the new reforms into surface transportation legislation Congress will consider this fall. Additional details on the reform plan are available at


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Safe Community Transport

Community transport plays an important role in the passenger transport system in Tasmania, assisting Tasmanians who need transport to access services and to participate in community life.

The Review

DIER is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the community sector to review Community Transport, in terms of developing a framework to ensure the continuing safety of clients, drivers and operators into the future.

Currently, Community Transport services are operating under a temporary exemption from some elements of the legislation governing passenger transport services relating to small vehicles and driver licensing. During the period of the exemptions, DIER is undertaking a review of issues relevant to this legislation to ensure the safety of the community is properly recognised in the management and delivery of services in the longer term.


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Thursday, August 14, 2008

American Driving Reaches Eighth Month of Steady Decline

WASHINGTON - New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that, since last November, Americans have driven 53.2 billion miles less than they did over the same period a year earlier - topping the 1970s' total decline of 49.3 billion miles.

"We can't afford to continue pinning our transportation network's future to the gas tax," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. "Advances in higher fuel-efficiency vehicles and alternative fuels are making the gas tax an even less sustainable support for funding roads, bridges and transit systems."

Americans drove 4.7 percent less, or 12.2 billion miles fewer, in June 2008 than June 2007. The decline is most evident in rural travel, which has fallen by 4 percent - compared to the 1.2 percent decline in urban miles traveled - since the trend began last November.

Last month, Secretary Peters unveiled the USDOT's transportation reform plan which offers lawmakers several options to consider when Congress takes up highway and transit legislation next year. "It really makes little sense to try to upgrade our infrastructure using a revenue source as ineffective, unsustainable and unpopular as the fuel tax," she added.

"Secretary Peters' plan to overhaul our nation's transportation investment strategy begins the much-needed transition away from status quo solutions that produce status quo results. Her plan strengthens the abilities of state and local officials to integrate effective transit and highway solutions to meet Americans' ever-changing travel demands," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray.

As Americans drive fewer miles, less revenue is generated for the Highway Trust Fund from gasoline and diesel sales - 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon, respectively. During the first quarter of 2008, motorists consumed nearly 400 million fewer gallons of gasoline, or about 1.3 percent less than during the same period in 2007, and 7 percent less - or 318 million gallons - of diesel.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) collects vehicle-miles-traveled data for all motor vehicles through more than 4,000 automatic traffic recorders operated round-the-clock by state highway agencies. To review the FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, including that of June 2008, visit


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Agreement Signed By Maritime Administration, Hapag-Lloyd Creates Training Opportunities for Merchant Marine Cadets

WASHINGTON-Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton and John M. Murray, president and chief executive officer of Hapag-Lloyd USA, LLC, recently signed an agreement for cadets from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and state maritime academies to take their training voyages on Hapag-Lloyd vessels.

Maritime cadets must have sailing time on working vessels in order to qualify as licensed mariners. Currently, there is a worldwide shortage of licensed mariners, and U.S. maritime academies have geared up to train more students. Students will begin to serve on the foreign-flag vessels in October.

"Cadets will receive excellent training from skilled maritime professionals on a variety of seagoing vessels," said Administrator Connaughton. "Hapag-Lloyd should be commended for their commitment to these American students."

The Hapag-Lloyd group is the world's largest liner shipping companies. Its vessels sail all the major sea lanes of the world providing global shipping services.

This Memorandum of Agreement is the fifth such training agreement signed between the federal government and private industry. Previous agreements were with APL Liner, Ltd.; Overseas Shipholding Group; Great American Lines, Inc.; and SeaRiver.


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Step forward in Pendolino lengthening project

Agreement has been reached with Virgin Rail Projects Ltd to support the Department for Transport's plans to introduce longer 'Pendolino' trains on the West Coast Main Line.

The agreement - a Notice to Proceed - means that Virgin Rail Projects Ltd is the chosen bidder for the Service Provider contract.

The Service Provider will support DfT throughout the design, manufacture, delivery, testing and commissioning of new 'Pendolino' rolling stock through to the end of the current West Coast franchise, on 31st March 2012.

A 'Notice to Proceed' means that Virgin Rail Projects Ltd can now review and enter into Interim Lease and Interim maintenance contracts for the new rolling stock.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said:

"Passengers will see a 45% increase in long distance services because of the £8.8bn West Coast Main Line modernisation, but we want to secure improvements into the future too. This agreement is a key part of our future plans for the line."


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Friday, August 8, 2008

90-car Sealth to remain on Anacortes/San Juan Islands route until mid-August

SEATTLE - Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Ferries Division will continue to operate the 90-car Sealth on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route through the end of next week while the 144- Elwha remains out of service for repairs. The Elwha was taken out of service Wednesday, Aug. 6 because of a problem with the propulsion control cooling system; it is currently at WSDOT's Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility (EHMF) undergoing repairs. The Sealth, which had been on standby at EHMF, has been operating on the San Juan Islands route since Wednesday night.

"Our maintenance staff is working overtime this weekend to repair the Elwha and troubleshoot the problem so that we can get this ferry back in service as soon as possible," said David Moseley, Assistant Secretary, Ferries Division. "We know that August is an awful time for this to happen in the San Juan Islands and we are working to minimize the impact as much as we can."

Because the Sealth holds fewer cars than the Elwha, customers are encouraged to arrive early and expect more overloads. The San Juan County Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 13 - Saturday, Aug. 16. During this time, WSDOT expects heavier than normal traffic volumes traveling between Anacortes and Friday Harbor. For updated schedule and service information please visit the WSDOT Ferries Division Web site at


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

FAA to Auction Slots at Newark Liberty Airport

WASHINGTON - The right to operate a single roundtrip flight at Newark Liberty Airport will be auctioned for a five-year lease on September 3, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today.

"This auction will allow us to implement market mechanisms on a small scale, gauge interest and determine a slot's market value," Secretary Peters said. "However, the real winners in this auction will be consumers, who stand to benefit from more reliable air service that costs less in terms of both time and money."

The two slots were to be allocated to Eos Airlines earlier this year, but the airline filed for bankruptcy leaving the FAA with control of the slots. The winner would be able to operate at Newark daily, arriving at 5:00 to 5:30 p.m. every day but Monday and Saturday, when the arrival would be from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m., and departing daily from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. The funds generated from the auction will be used to reduce delays and enhance capacity at New York-area airports.

Tomorrow, the terms and conditions of the lease and details of the auction process will be made available on the FAA's procurement Web site ( where they will be available for public comment until August 18. After taking into consideration all comments on both the lease and the process, a final notice and invitation to bid will be published August 25 and the auction will take place on September 3.

"Market-based mechanisms are the best way to assure consumers will receive quality service at affordable prices, and we've proposed several measures that embrace these mechanisms. Indeed, such measures have been very successful at managing congestion in other transportation modes and can provide strong incentives for more efficient use of a strained resource, like New York-area airports," Secretary Peters said.


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Sunday, August 3, 2008

News Digest

BTS Releases State Transportation Statistics 2007. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), has released State Transportation Statistics 2007(STS) - a 140-page reference guide to transportation data by state. The fifth annual STS covers data on infrastructure, safety, freight transportation, passenger travel, registered vehicles and vehicle-miles traveled, economy and finance, and energy and environment. To find STS 2007 on the BTS website, go to To order a copy of the State Transportation Statistics 2007, contact BTS by phone at 1-800-853-1351, by e-mail at or by mail at Product Orders, RITA/Bureau of Transportation Statistics, USDOT, 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., Room E36-109, Washington, DC 20590. STS 2007 can also be obtained by going to the BTS website at and ordering copies using the "Products" link. Contact for non-orders: Dave Smallen 202-366-5568.

BTS Issues Transportation Statistics Annual Report. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), has released the Transportation Statistics Annual Report (TSAR) 2007. This congressionally mandated report, which represents the 13th such report issued by BTS, presents and analyzes data on travel, freight movement, system extent and condition, the economic performance of transportation, safety, energy, and the environmental consequences of transportation. To order a copy of the Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2007, contact BTS by phone at 1-800-853-1351, by e-mail at or by mail at Product Orders, RITA/Bureau of Transportation Statistics, USDOT, 1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., Room E36-109, Washington, DC 20590. TSAR 2007 can also be obtained by going to the BTS website at and ordering copies using the "Products" link. Contact for non-orders: Dave Smallen 202-366-5568.

Alaska Railroad Receives FRA Grant for Rail/Highway Bridge to Military Training Area. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is awarding $44.2 million to the Alaska Railroad for a dual use railroad/highway bridge over the Tanana River to the U.S. military's Joint Tanana Training Complex. The bridge, which is part of the Northern Rail Extension project, is part of the new 80-mile rail line from North Pole to Delta Junction. The grant funds are to be used to advance existing designs to contract-ready engineering documents; complete filings for all necessary permits; obtain required rights-of-way; build construction staging areas; and begin construction of the bridge and connecting roadways. However, no funds may be spent for construction purposes until all environmental review work is completed. The funds are from the FY 2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Act and were transferred to FRA to administer. Contact: Steve Kulm 202-493-6024.


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