In a wide-ranging appearance Monday at the National Press Club, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he’d figured out how to bicycle to his office, and he touted vehicle-to-vehicle communications for cars as a technology that will reduce accidents in the future.
But Foxx avoided substantive comment on two of the most pressing current issues: the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine last week, and a pending rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on rail shipment of volatile Bakken crude from North Dakota.
President Barack Obama on Monday morning denounced Russian-backed separatists for blocking the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines flight which was shot down last week over eastern Ukraine. He demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin press the separatists to “stop tampering with the evidence” and to give investigators, including some from the United States, “unimpeded access to the crash site” for flight MH17.
As the geopolitical struggle over the shooting down of the Boeing 777 continues, it’s worth reading the analysis that journalist and pilot James Fallows did Saturday on the question of whether Malaysia Airlines was to blame for routing it over an area where fighting was taking place.
On CNBC Friday, Deborah Hersman, the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, explained some of the difficulties facing investigators as they try to figure out exactly how the Malaysia Airlines flight was downed over Ukraine.
“This a very wide debris field, potentially nine miles long,” she said. “And they’ve got to be able to track every single piece of that aircraft so they can put it together, because the important pats are going to be the ones that tell them what happened.”
On his Five By Five blog, CQ Roll Call’s Tim Starks has the news on Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R- Ill., calling for the Federal Aviation Administration to help commercial airliners install defense systems against missile defense attacks of the type that shot down a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine on Thursday. Tim explains the background on past civilian aircraft defense efforts.
President Obama on Friday called for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine to allow “a credible international investigation” of the shooting down Thursday of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board.
Calling the event “an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” Obama said at the White House that he’d dispatched investigators from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board to Ukraine to assist in the inquiry.
The Federal Aviation Administration has banned U.S. flight operations over eastern Ukraine after a Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people on board was shot down in that airspace on Thursday.
Meanwhile on its Twitter account Friday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board said it would “send 1+ investigator to Ukraine. Details TBD. Response will be guided by events as they unfold.”
President Barack Obama tried to focus attention this week on public-private partnerships to build infrastructure. Despite the existence of well-established “P3″ projects — concentrated in Texas, Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado — the public is still sometimes confused about what’s public and what’s private.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has averted a potentially crippling Long Island Rail Road commuter rail strike in New York City’s suburbs.
In a news conference with labor union leaders and Tom Prendergast, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Cuomo announced the accord which still must be ratified by the unions. The agreement headed off a strike that would have begun as early as Sunday.
Even as President Barack Obama was headed to Delaware on Thursday to promote public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure, Peter Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, was telling a conference of officials and investors who put together such deals that there’s growing resistance in Congress to the “P3s” trend.
In Delaware on Thursday, President Barack Obama will announce a new “one-stop shop” for state and local governments who need guidance on how to partner with private-sector investors raise money for infrastructure projects.
Obama will unveil the Build America Transportation Investment Center, to be housed at the Department of Transportation.
The airport in the western Pennsylvania county where film star Jimmy Stewart was born and raised — the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport — is getting $354,666 to remove obstructions and complete a runway extension. It was one of 35 small airports getting $18 million in grants announced by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday.
The Container covers the transportation community in Washington.
Tom Curry (@TCurry_Himself) writes for The Container. He has been a national affairs reporter and editor for nearly two decades, having covered elections, Supreme Court nominations, fiscal policy and the health care debate.
Joe Warminsky is managing editor of CQ Weekly magazine and editor of The Container.