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The LaHood Era is over: A look back and a look ahead

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
DOT Sec Ray LaHood at opening plenary-3
Outgoing US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood urged attendees of the 2012 National Bike Summit to, “ride up there [to Capitol Hill] and tell them to pass the bill!”

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No second term for US DOT Sec. Ray LaHood

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

LaHood’s official statement is below. I’ll have more on the Front Page later this morning:

“I have let President Obama know that I will not serve a second term as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the Department, and I am grateful to President Obama for giving me such an extraordinary opportunity. I plan to stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth transition for the Department and all the important work we still have to do.

As I look back on the past four years, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in so many important areas. But what I am most proud of is the DOT team. You exemplify the best of public service, and I truly appreciate all that you have done to make America better, to make your communities better, and to make DOT better.

Our achievements are significant. We have put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making. We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.

We helped jumpstart the economy and put our fellow Americans back to work with $48 billion in transportation funding from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, and awarded over $2.7 billion in TIGER grants to 130 transportation projects across the Nation. We have made unprecedented investments in our nation’s ports. And we have put aviation on a sounder footing with the FAA reauthorization, and secured funding in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act to help States build and repair their roads, bridges and transit systems.

And to further secure our future, we have taken transportation into the 21st century with CAFE Standards, NextGen, and our investments in passenger and High-Speed Rail. What’s more, we have provided the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with the funding and leadership it needs to prepare a new generation of midshipmen to meet our country’s rapidly-evolving defense and maritime transportation needs.

Closer to home, we also have made great strides. In December, the DOT was recognized as the most improved agency in the entire Federal government in the 2012 “Best Places to Work” rankings published by the Partnership of Public Service. Even more impressive, DOT was ranked 9th out of the 19 largest agencies in the government.

Each of these remarkable accomplishments is a tribute your hard work, creativity, commitment to excellence, and most of all, your dedication to our country. DOT is fortunate to have such an extraordinary group of public servants. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as the selection and confirmation process of the next transportation secretary moves forward. Now is not the time to let up – we still have a number of critical safety goals to accomplish and still more work to do on the implementation of MAP-21.

I’ve told President Obama, and I’ve told many of you, that this is the best job I’ve ever had. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you and I’m confident that DOT will continue to achieve great things in the future.

Thank you, and God bless you.”

In my opinion: On livability and the CRC, USDOT Sec LaHood can’t have it both ways

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
National Bike Summit-Lobby Day-5
I want the new freeway to be this wide!

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has some explaining to do.

LaHood, who famously stood on a tabletop and thanked bike advocates for their hard work at the 2010 National Bike Summit and later posted on his blog that, “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” has now become an enthusiastic booster of the Columbia River Crossing project — a five-mile long, highway widening mega-project being proposed by the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation. (more…)

Under fire for wasteful spending, LaHood suspends overseas study program

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
SW Moody project groundbreaking
Sec. LaHood has suspended
an FHWA program that
sent Americans overseas
to learn transportation
best practices.
(Photo © J. Maus)

After ABC News questioned spending on a trip to Europe by American bureaucrats to study outdoor advertising practices, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has suspended all funding for the FHWA’s International Technology Scanning Program.

That program has funded many transportation policy-related trips over the years, including one that looked at European biking and walking safety and mobility practices in 2009.

In May 2009, 12 transportation experts visited five countries in Europe to glean lessons on how to improve biking and walking safety and mobility. Among the officials on the trip was Oregon’s former state traffic engineer Ed Fischer (now retired). We reported on that trip and linked to their final report, Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility in Europe back in September. (more…)

DOT Sec Ray LaHood’s latest “On the Go” talks bike safety, bike-sharing

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

We’ve got to hand it to US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. Whether it’s showing panache by hopping up on a table for a speech at the National Bike Summit, or creating a buzz about biking on Huffington Post — this guy understands how to communicate and he keeps bicycles in the limelight while doing so.

In that same vein, Sec. LaHood just released his latest “On the Go” video where he answers questions posed to him via Facebook, Twitter, or on his “Fast Lane” blog. One of the three questions he answered had to do with bicycles. Someone asked, “Is DOT improving bicycle infrastructure? Bikes are for transportation, not just recreation.” (more…)

US DOT: Northwest leads nation to lowest level of traffic fatalities ever

Friday, April 1st, 2011

“A regional breakdown showed the greatest drop [12%] in fatalities occurred in the Pacific Northwest states.”
— US DOT

The US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) projections show that between 2009 and 2010 traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level in recorded history (PDF of report). The numbers come despite what the US DOT refers to as a “significant increase in the number of miles Americans drove.”

Interestingly, the US DOT press release (full text below) singles out the Pacific Northwest as showing the greatest drop in fatalities — which is also the region where traffic volumes are on a noticeable decline. (more…)

Roundup of LaHood’s visit to Portland

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
SW Moody project groundbreaking-6
LaHood (R) listens as Congressman Earl Blumenauer
discusses the SW Moody project. Mayor Adams
is in the background.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The US Department of Transportation Secretary is on a whirlwind trip through Portland to show his support for road safety, bicycling, and streetcars. LaHood is joined by several high-level DOT staffers and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. I was hoping to meet up with him for a bike ride this morning, but LaHood is apparently suffering from a cold and the ride has been canceled.

Yesterday, LaHood visited the manufacturing headquarters of United Streetcar along with Congressman Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer. As he did in his 2009 visit, LaHood had nothing but good things to say about Portland’s commitment to streetcars and the bonus points we get for making the streetcars right here in Oregon. Writing on his blog this morning, LaHood shared shared his love for Portland: (more…)

LaHood and other bigwigs to hold press event for SW Moody project

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
Detail of SW Moody cross-section.

As we noted recently, US DOT Sec. Ray LaHood is making a visit to Portland next week. While here, LaHood will join Mayor Adams, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer, David Wu, Kurt Schrader, and regional transportation bigwigs in the South Waterfront District.
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BTA will host US DOT Sec Ray LaHood in Portland later this month

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
National Bike Summit - Day two-5
Sec. LaHood is coming to Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has nabbed a personal visit from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. At the BTA’s request, LaHood is slated for an invite-only event that will take place in Portland on March 21st.

BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky says they initially asked LaHood’s staff if he’d be willing to accept an award of recognition in person at their annual Alice Awards gala slated for April 23rd. That date didn’t work for LaHood’s schedule, so his office suggested a different date and the BTA was happy to oblige.

At the event, Sadowsky says the topic will be crash reduction and distracted driving — two key pieces to the BTA’s current focus on the ‘Vision Zero’ strategy. (more…)

USDOT: Traffic fatalities fell to record-breaking lows in 2009

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
National Bike Summit - Day two-5
Ray LaHood.
(Photo © J. Maus)

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that the latest traffic data shows “major, across the board declines” in all categories of fatalities and the lowest numbers in six decades.

Updated fatality and injury data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that there were 33,808 motor vehicle fatalities in 2009, a decline of 9.7 percent and the lowest number since 1950. This decline occurred estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 0.2 percent over 2008. The number of people killed while riding their bicycles dropped 12 percent, from 718 deaths in 2008 to 630 deaths in 2009. (more…)

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