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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Disaster Assistance Grants Awarded to States to Cover Costs of Railroad Emergency Repairs Following Natural Disasters

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today announced the award of $15 million to nine states for emergency repairs to damaged railroad infrastructure resulting from natural disasters.

Funding from the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Railroad Rehabilitation and Repair Program (RRRP) will go to state Departments of Transportation to reimburse short line and regional railroads for the cost of repairs.

"Freight railroads are critical to local economies and we are committed to helping them restore rail service after a major disruption," said Szabo. “This funding will help the carriers defray repair costs and keep the trains running.”

Funds awarded under the RRRP can cover up to 80 percent of the total cost of a selected project, with the remainder to be provided from non-federal sources. Grants may be used to repair bridges, signals and other infrastructure which are part of the general rail transportation system. The grant recipients are as follows:

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

  • Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad - $637,440
  • Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad - $945,680

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department

  • Emergency repairs to Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad - $737,292

Illinois Department of Transportation

  • Flood control on the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad - $569,700

Kansas Department of Transportation

  • Repair of flood damage to the Gorilla Subdivision on the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad - $405,702

FRA 03-09

Indiana Department of Transportation

  • Flood damage repair on the Indiana Southern Railroad - $1,244,217

Iowa Department of Transportation

  • Flood damage restoration to rebuild a bridge and repair signals on the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway - $6,965,163

  • Flood damage restoration for the Keokuk Junction Railway Yard - $459,200

  • Replacement of the Waterloo Bridge over the Cedar River for the Iowa Northern Railway - $2,174,880
Missouri Department of Transportation

  • Flood damage repair on Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad - $353,600
North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Repair of washouts and debris removal On the Carolina Coastal Railway - $11,101
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

  • Repair of flood damage and washouts on the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad - $354,006

Under the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, FRA was authorized to make $20 million available for grants to repair and rehabilitate railroad infrastructure damaged in areas declared by the President as a major disaster.

The FRA intends to issue another solicitation for the remaining $5 million in funds through a Notice of Funding Availability to be published in the Federal Register that will be available on a competitive basis.



posted by transport blogs @ 3:40 AM permanent link   | Post a Comment | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Transport Direct welcomes 50 millionth user

Over 50 million users have now visited the Department for Transport's pioneering travel information and journey planning service, Transport Direct.

For five years the website has provided travellers with a unique guide to virtually all domestic transport on land, sea and air by drawing information from over 40 different sources each week.

It offers users the chance to tailor a journey to their own needs, by combining the content of up to eight different websites in one and plotting their route from door-to-door.

Transport Minister Paul Clark said:

"This website is about allowing the public to find a route that suits them best.

"People can see where to find a GP, make sure they get to their job interview on time, or plan a night out with friends.

"The versatility of Transport Direct is matched only by the scale and precision of its travel information - 96 per cent of users say they'd use it again."

The site, launched in December 2004, now attracts more than 25 million users each year - over eight times as many as it did in its first year.

Transport Direct Chief Executive, Nick Illsley, said:

"It's a great resource for anyone who needs simple directions in hurry, and it helps people plot the quickest route to their destination.

"Transport Direct lets people plan more efficient journeys at times when the transport system is less busy, saving time and allowing for more comfortable trips."

Real time information on road and rail disruption allows travellers to avoid unnecessary delays to their journey while extensive maps show the locations of bus stops and train stations, and also suggest where traffic congestion may occur.



posted by transport blogs @ 10:12 PM permanent link   | Post a Comment | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Reminds Drivers and Bicyclists to Share the Road During Bicycle Safety Month

As more people take to the roads on their bikes, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asks both drivers and cyclists to help reduce the number of cyclist fatalities. In 2007, 698 cyclists were killed in America. Everyone needs to pay attention when using America's roads, whether they're walking, biking or driving, LaHood said.

More and more Americans are taking up cycling, including a dramatic increase in bicycling by baby boomers. Whether they're riding for fun, exercise, or to save on gas, more baby boomers are riding bicycles, according to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. Unfortunately, this aging trend can also be found in NHTSA's latest fatality statistics. For the tenth straight year, the average age of persons killed on bicycles has increased. Research shows that in 1997 the average age of a person killed in a bicycle crash was 31; in 2007 it increased to over 40.

"Our roads and communities must be built to allow people to get around safely outside of their cars, on bike or on foot," Secretary LaHood said. "These statistics show that our transportation program needs to have a much greater focus on making our roadways safe for bicyclists."

Since 1992, the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided more than $4.5 billion in federal aid for bicycle and pedestrian safety programs. The States have used Federal-aid funds to construct shared use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, and to provide bicycle lanes and bicycle parking, and other highway safety features to reduce fatalities and to increase bicycle use. FHWA also actively promotes bicycle safety through Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These efforts balance FHWA's commitment to easing traffic congestion with keeping roads safe for all users.

"The most important thing bicyclists and motorists need to remember is that they both share the road equally," said NHTSA's Acting Deputy Administrator Ron Medford.

Recent data shows that the 698 bicyclist deaths in 2007 accounted for two percent of all traffic fatalities with an additional 44,000 injured in traffic crashes.

To avoid the risk of becoming a fatality, motorists and cyclists are urged to take extra precaution when driving and riding.

Motorists should:
  • Recognize that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roadway;
  • Always stay alert;
  • Make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.

Cyclists should:
  • Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks;
  • Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals;
  • Wear a bicycle helmet every time you ride;
  • Make yourself visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear (clothing, arm or leg bands, etc.) in low light conditions,- and use head and tail lights at night.



posted by transport blogs @ 10:13 PM permanent link   | Post a Comment | 0 comments

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gov. Gregoire signs historic transportation budget

TACOMA - Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed the $7.5 billion transportation budget for the 2009-2011 biennium, which includes the largest two-year construction budget ever for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Gregoire noted that Legislative budget writers estimate the projects approved in this bill are expected to support or create 49,000 jobs.

"This budget couldn't have come at a better time," Gregoire said. "Not only will it greatly improve our transportation system, the projects I'm signing off on will ensure regular employment for tens of thousands of Washingtonians. This is a huge win for the entire state of Washington. We're creating safer, more efficient ways of travel - while getting our economy back on track."

Gregoire signed the historic package in Tacoma, where - as a result of this budget - additional High-Occupancy-Vehicle lanes will be constructed on Interstate 5. In addition, the budget appropriates funding to make improvements to Pierce County's state Route 16 Nalley Valley Viaduct.

"I can't think of a more fitting location than Pierce County to sign this budget," Gregoire said. "Your Nalley Valley Viaduct project encompasses everything we set out do this past legislative session when it comes to transportation. It puts people to work, it reduces congestion, and it ensures our commerce moves quickly to keep our businesses thriving."

Highlights of the transportation package include:

  • Funding for three 64-car ferries and a fourth, which will either be a 64-car or 144-car ferry;
  • Funding for critical safety, freight, and mobility projects - including I-90/Snoqualmie Pass, I-405 and the North Spokane corridor;
  • Consolidation of licensing services offices, creating cost savings and better customer service; and
  • Increased highway patrols for DUI enforcement

In addition to the transportation budget bill, the Legislature also approved legislation to fund the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bored tunnel. Lawmakers also appropriated funding to replace the state Route 520 bridge.

"Every one of these projects benefits the entire state," Gregoire said. "By making Washington a safe place to commute, and a more efficient place to do business, we are staying competitive in the changing economy."

Gregoire recognized Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, (D-Camano Island), and Representative Judy Clibborn, (D-Mercer Island), who chaired the House and Senate Transportation committees, for their leadership in getting the transportation budget passed.

"This was a tough legislative session," said Haugen. "But this was the bright spot. This transportation budget achieves what we all set out to do. It improves our roads and bridges while ensuring jobs for thousands of Washingtonians."

"The transportation budget is the good news in an otherwise bad-news budget year," said Clibborn. "This record investment will create jobs and improve our infrastructure at the time we need it most."



posted by transport blogs @ 6:18 AM permanent link   | Post a Comment | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Over 400,000 passengers benefit as Stirling Alloa Kincardine Railway celebrates first anniversary

The return of rail services to Clackmannanshire has seen an overwhelming 400,000 passengers take advantage of the new Stirling Alloa Kincardine railway in its first year.

Passenger services returned to Alloa for the first time since 1968 when the new Alloa station opened on May 15, 2008.

Almost four times as many passengers have used the service as originally anticipated since its opening 12 months ago.

Strong demand has seen passenger numbers outstrip initial forecasts of 155,000 users in its first year and has led to the introduction of new direct morning and evening commuter services from Alloa to Edinburgh.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"The fantastic response from passengers over the first year of services from Alloa demonstrates how worthwhile this project has been.

"Reconnecting Alloa to the rail network after a gap of 40 years has provided new education and employment opportunities for communities across central Scotland and has played an important role in creating sustainable economic growth for the area.

"The introduction of these services has made it easier for tens of thousands of people to make the switch to a more sustainable method of transport."

The Stirling Alloa Kincardine rail project reopened 21km (13 miles) of existing, disused and abandoned railway line between Stirling Station and Longannet Power Station in Kincardine.

The new station at Alloa allows direct hourly passenger services between Alloa, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street and onward services from Stirling to Edinburgh.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, added:

"From 17 May, a new direct morning commuter service to Edinburgh will depart Alloa at 07.38, with a return train from Edinburgh to Alloa at 17.33.

"In addition, the 23.18 Glasgow to Stirling service will be extended to Alloa, providing a new late service to the town.

"Feedback from customers has demonstrated overwhelming support and we are delighted to be able to implement these new services."

Clackmannanshire Council leader Janet Cadenhead said:

"Clackmannanshire Council campaigned for decades for the rail link to reopen. We were always determined to make this project happen and are obviously delighted by its overwhelming success and popularity.

"I'm not surprised by the figures - we always believed that the case to reopen the line was compelling and these numbers prove that it is a necessary and valuable link.

"The reopening of the line is already making a significant contribution to the economic regeneration of Clackmannanshire and this progress looks set to continue.

"Clackmannanshire has a great central location, and the new station allows us to make the most of our proximity to Scotland's major cities. I'm delighted that our residents are enjoying convenient, safe, fast and environmentally sound public transport in such huge numbers."

SESTRANS is investigating the feasibility of extending the route from Alloa to Dunfermline to build on the success of the Stirling Alloa Kincardine railway.



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Friday, May 8, 2009

President's Budget Recommends $1.83 Billion for Transit Construction, Including 10 New Projects Across the Nation

On Thursday, President Obama recommended to Congress $1.83 billion in funding for major transit projects that will create jobs and increase transportation options throughout the United States. More than $600 million of those funds are being recommended for new projects in areas as diverse as Northern New Jersey; Austin, Texas; and Roaring Fork Valley, Colo.

"By reinvesting in our nation's transit infrastructure, we are making our communities more livable invigorating the local economy, and putting America back to work, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The spending plan, included in President Obama's Budget submitted to Congress yesterday, announces recommendations by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to invest $604.3 million in 10 new or expanding transit projects - five projects under the New Starts Program,, which provides federal funding for major capital construction projects, and five projects under the Small Starts Program, which funds smaller transit projects.

The plan also continues funding for 29 projects already, or soon to be, under construction that have received commitments for federal funding in previous years. Also, in a separate announcement this week, LaHood made available an additional $742.5 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds for 11 of these projects.

An additional 13 proposals were evaluated by the FTA, but are not yet advanced enough to be considered for funding. FTA's Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for New and Small Starts for Fiscal Year 2010 provides information and ratings for all projects in the New Starts and Small Starts programs.



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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Statement of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the Departure of Deputy Secretary Thomas J. Barrett

Tom Barrett leaves the Department of Transportation with my deepest gratitude for all the fine work he has done here. I was delighted that he agreed to remain in office during the transition between administrations, and his knowledge and wisdom have proved indispensable in helping us get a quick start on economic recovery and other urgent priorities.

In his earlier role as the first administrator of DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Tom undertook the hard work of organizing a new federal agency with a critical safety mission.

Tom's work at the Department, following a 35-year Coast Guard career in which he attained the position of Vice Commandant, adds up to a distinguished career of service to the public - one filled with accomplishments of which he can be proud.

I wish Tom all the best as he becomes Deputy Federal Coordinator at the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects. He will be missed.



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Monday, May 4, 2009

Government to help motorists and industry get on the low carbon road

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon launched the Government's vision to promote ultra low carbon transport over the next five years.

Central to the strategy is an initiative to help put electric cars into the reach of ordinary motorists by providing help worth £2000 - £5000 towards buying the first electric and plug in hybrid cars when they hit the showrooms - which we expect from 2011 onwards.

The Government has recently committed to placing low carbon transport at the centre of its vision for the UK economy. Today's announcement will promote infrastructure and support technology development and encourage manufacture in the UK, whilst incentivising consumers.

This funding is included in a £250 million scheme to deliver a green motoring transformation, part of the wider Government support to help consumers and businesses make the transition to low carbon.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said;

"Cutting road transport CO2 emissions is a key element to tackling climate change. Less than 0.1% of the UK's 26 million cars are electric, so there is a huge untapped potential to reduce emissions.

"The scale of incentives we're announcing today will mean that an electric car is a real option for motorists as well as helping to make the UK a world leader in low carbon transport."

The strategy also includes plans to provide £20 million for charging points and related infrastructure to help develop a network of 'electric car cities' throughout the UK and an expansion of an electric and ultra-low carbon car demonstration project on the UK's roads. This project will mean over 200 motorists throughout the country will have the opportunity to drive a cutting-edge car and feedback the information needed to make greener motoring an everyday reality.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said;

"Britain has taken a world lead in setting ambitious targets for carbon reduction. Low carbon vehicles will play a key role in cutting emissions. Government must act now to ensure that the business benefits of this ambition are realised here in the UK. We want the British motor industry to be a leader in the low carbon future, and Government must direct and support this, through what I call new industrial activism."

The Government has already committed around £400 million of support to encourage development and uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles. This is in addition to a £2.3bn package of support for the automotive sector in the downturn that has been specifically designed to support the development of green technologies to provide solutions for carbon reduction and a world leading low carbon automotive industry.

Speaking today, Richard Parry-Jones, Chairman of the industry led New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) welcomed the announcement:

"The auto sector in the UK has transformed itself into a world-class industry, with superb design and engineering skills, very high productivity, product reliability that rivals the best in the world, and flexible, constructive labour relations. Today's announcement represents a major step towards achieving the NAIGT's ambition of ensuring that the industry in the UK can play a decisive global role in developing and manufacturing exciting, low carbon vehicles for the future."



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Saturday, May 2, 2009

State budget to commit $562.3 million for South Morang rail extension

Melbourne's metropolitan rail network will expand to the growing northern suburbs with the 2009 State Budget to commit $562.3 million to build a rail extension of the Epping line to South Morang.

The Premier John Brumby today said with funding now committed, tenders for the South Morang Rail Extension project would be called later this year and construction would start in 2010.

"Our Government is taking action to build a world-class transport network as we deliver our $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan," Mr Brumby said.

"The South Morang Rail Extension is about putting the infrastructure in place to cater for the 90,000 people expected to settle in the Plenty Valley growth area and importantly, it will deliver jobs now, securing up to 460 jobs during construction.

"The new rail extension will give people living and working in the outer north better access to employment opportunities by providing a direct link to the recently completed redevelopment of the Plenty Town Centre.

"This is an exciting time for communities in the outer north. Design and development for the South Morang rail extension is on track, tenders will be called later this year and construction will begin next year and be completed in three years."

The South Morang Rail Extension Project involves the duplication of a single track between Keon Park and Epping and the construction of 3.5 kilometres of new double track from Epping to South Morang.

The $562.3 million in the 2009 State Budget will fund all capital and construction works associated with the project. There will be ongoing operational costs.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said there would be no new level crossings as a result of the extension, delivering on the Brumby Government's commitment to build no new level crossings in rail line extensions.

"The project design work has determined that the most appropriate solutions will involve a rail overpass at Dalton Road, as well as road overpasses will be built at Pindari Avenue and Civic Drive," Ms Kosky said.

"The new South Morang station will have parking for 500 cars, be integrated with local bus routes and include a safe drop off area and a taxi rank. It will also feature a bike cage, allowing local residents to ride their bike and keep it secure."

Member for Mill Park Lily D'Ambrosio said the South Morang Rail Extension project would mean communities in the outer north would be able to spend less time commuting and more time with family and friends.

"I am delighted to see this project move forward and I know communities in this region are looking forward to being better connected," Ms D'Ambrosio said.

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said the project's next step would be community engagement.

"Local residents will receive letters with information about the project and the community will be invited to come along to a series of information sessions to view these early designs and speak directly with the project team," Ms Green said.

Member for Thomastown Peter Batchelor said residents of Epping and Thomastown would also benefit with station upgrades planned as part of the South Morang Rail project.

"This project is great news for people living and working in Epping and Thomastown who will access to significantly improved railway stations, including better disability access," Mr Batchelor said.

The South Morang Rail Extension project is due for completion in 2013.



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