Secretary of Transportation

December 25, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Department of Transportation | Leave a comment
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President-Elect Obama has nominated soon-to-be-former Illinois Republican Representative Ray LaHood for Secretary of Transportation. Mr. LaHood had announced his intention to give up his House seat in July 2007.

I am more than a little baffled by this choice as Mr. LaHood does not appear to have any background or previous interest in transportation issues except as it relates to highway construction and protecting the trucking industry. His highest praise comes from Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, who applauds Mr. LaHood’s “efforts to enhance the state’s infrastructure, including the reconstruction of Interstate 74, expansion of U.S. Route 67, and completion of Route 336.” In 2002 Mr. LaHood thought the best use of his legislative position was to attempt to delay implementation of Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from diesel trucks.

That does not sound particularly promising to me.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966. The mission of the Department is to

Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Unfortunately, too often that is interpreted to mean “build more roads!” and “add capacity to existing roads!” while transportation alternatives are badly neglected. Building and maintaining roads and highways is expensive but the hidden costs are even greater.

The Office of the Secretary (OST) is responsible for national transportation policy and promoting intermodal transportation.

Agencies within (DOT) include:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Waste Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)
  • Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC)
  • Surface Transportation Board (STB)
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