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Transportation Nation

The Near Death of Reagan National Airport After 9/11

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU News) This week on WAMU, we aired a story about the closure of Reagan National Airport after the 9/11 attacks.

Some background: all U.S. airports shut down the day of the attacks. All but one reopened a few days later. That one was Washington D.C.'s Reagan National, which stayed closed for three more weeks.

In the terrifying days and weeks following 9/11, it didn't require much of a leap to imagine Reagan National - located just a few miles from the Capitol and the White House - being used as a launching pad for terrorism. So the Bush Administration, acting at the behest of the Secret Service, shut it down indefinitely.

For the details on what happened next,

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Transportation Nation

Moving Stories: Pilots get more rest; NYPD quotas caught on tape; Metro a Texas campaign issue

Friday, September 10, 2010

FAA will propose new rules on how long pilots can fly without rest (Dallas Morning News)

Secret tape has NYPD pressing parking ticket quotas (NY Times)

Houston federal transit funding problems become issue in the governor's race (Houston Chronicle)

Former employee from Golden Gate Bridge, arrested on suspicion of embezzling about $98,000 (SF Chronicle)

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Transportation Nation

Moving Stories: European Transit Unions Strike, and All Aboard the Quiet Car

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Is this the first of the UK's "austerity strikes?"  London Underground workers begin a series of 24-hour strikes.   (Marketplace).  Meanwhile, across the channel, French transit employees are also striking.  (NPR)

Shhhh:  NJ Transit launches "quiet car" pilot program.  Put down the cell phones, commuters.  (Star Ledger)

New York's construction industry likes the president's $50 billion infrastructure plan.  Republicans, not so much.  (WNYC)

The Federal Aviation Administration is mulling over the National Transportation Safety Board's request to require children under two years old to have their own seats.  (AP)

Camden Yards fans aren't riding the rails to get to the stadium -- which isn't helping Baltimore achieve its light rail passenger goals.   (WTOP)

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Transportation Nation

What's Saving the Lives of Texas Drivers?

Monday, August 30, 2010

(Houston, TX - Wendy Siegle, KUHF)  The nightly news here focuses on mangled cars, strewn across Texas freeways.  The reports tallying the number of daily highway fatalities feel incessant.  So you might think deadly traffic accidents across Texas are on the rise.

But hard data don’t lie, and it appears fewer people are actually dying in car accidents after all. The number has been steadily decreasing over the years, and in 2009, there was an 11 percent decline in crash fatalities from the year before. Eleven percent is significant, considering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts the year-on-year decrease in Texas from 2007 to 2008 at a mere two percent.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 3,089 people died on Texas highways last year; that’s 388 less than in 2008.  TxDOT’s Kelli Petras says the drop in fatalities took the agency by surprise. “We are very fortunate to have received this low number. We’ve been trying really hard to get our fatality numbers down,” she said.

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The Takeaway

Concussions in Teens, and Potentially Irreversible Brain Damage

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's back to school time, when more kids are spending time in gym class and after-school sports. However, it's not all fun and games, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report is called “Sport Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents,” and it reveals just how dangerous concussions can be to developing humans, interfering not only with physical health, but learning.

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Transportation Nation

Ford Recalls 463,000 Minivans in U.S.

Friday, August 27, 2010

(Detroit, MI - Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  Ford is recalling more than half a million Windstar minivans for possible axle problems.  The action affects vehicles in cold weather states.

The recall affects Ford Windstar minivans from the 1998 through 2003 model years.  About 463-thousand vehicles are affected in the U-S.  Another 113-thousand have been recalled in Canada.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says corrosion from road salt can weaken the rear axle in cold weather states.  The issue could lead to cracks and in some cases a complete fracture of the axle could occur increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will inspect the rear axle…and make necessary repairs at no costs to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified by Ford beginning next month.

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Transportation Nation

Toyota Recalls 1.1 Million Corollas, Matrixes

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(Detroit, MI - Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  Toyota is recalling more than a million vehicles because of engines that could stall.    The recall includes Toyota Matrix hatchbacks and Corolla sedans from the 2005 through 2008 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the affected vehicles could have a defective engine control model.  A crack in the part could prevent the engine from starting properly.  In some cases the engine could stop running while the car is being driven increasing the possibility of a crash.

Toyota says there are three reports of accidents that might be connected to the issue.

Dealers will inspect the engine control modules and make repairs at no cost to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified about the recall next month.  A second notice will be sent out when parts for repairs become available.

The recall is the latest in a string of product safety issues for Toyota vehicles.  The automaker has recalled millions of vehicles in the past year…including the widely publicized action to resolve unexpected acceleration problems in several models.

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Transportation Nation

Should There Be a Safer Way to Text and Drive?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(The Takeaway)  Why isn't there a better way to text while driving? That’s a question that Joel Johnson, editor at large of Gizmodo.com asked in a recent column.

So far, he’s received over 500 responses to his column, most of which suggest that people who text and drive should simply give it up, use the phone instead, or die behind the wheel because they deserve to. However, Johnson insists that, in a world where most people text and drive, his question is valid. If we can't stop it, why not make it safer?

What do you think? Should texting while driving be outlawed or be made safer?

Susan Kuchinskas also weighs in. A freelance journalist who writes about connected car technology for Scientific American and Telematics Update, she sees both the value and flaws in making texting safer.

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The Takeaway

Should There Be a Safer Way to Text and Drive?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why isn't there a better way to text while driving? That’s a question that Joel Johnson, editor at large of Gizmodo.com asked in a recent column.

So far, he’s received over 500 responses to his column, most of which suggest that people who text and drive should simply give it up, use the phone instead, or die behind the wheel because they deserve to. However, Johnson insists that, in a world where most people text and drive, his question is valid. If we can't stop it, why not make it safer?

What do you think? Should texting while driving be outlawed or be made safer?

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Transportation Nation

New York: A Scooter Perspective

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(New York, NY - Jim Colgan, WNYC) If you think you’re seeing more people on scooters this summer, you’re probably right. The number of two-wheeled vehicles registered in New York State continues to increase each year at a higher rate than in most other big states. That's according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Scooter users say it’s the easiest way to navigate the city, and it burns far less gas than a car. But while the two-wheelers may turn heads on city streets, riders say they don’t get much respect.

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The Takeaway

Chilean Miners Face Long Wait for Rescue

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

33 miners remain trapped more than 2,000 feet below ground at the San Jose copper and gold mine in Copiapo, Chile. 

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Transportation Nation

Moving Stories: Biden backs autoworkers, Texas traffic fatalities drop, Rendell: raise taxes, fees

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biden tells Ohio auto workers industry will thrive‎ (AP)

Texas traffic fatalities down 11 percent in 2009‎ (Houston Chronicle)

One effort to halt CA high-speed rail over environmental, ridership concerns fails (San Mateo Daily News)

Rendell watch: Raise motor vehicle fees, tax oil profits for $1B road, bridge and transit fund (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Transportation Nation

Last Pieces of I-35W Bridge Moved

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cars are seen August 4, 2007 in the twisted wreckage of the collapsed I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some debris still sits in a park just beond the dark bridge above. An agreement was reached today to move it. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(St. Paul, MN - MPR News)  Debris from the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007 will soon be moved to a storage site, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said today.

Mangled steel from the bridge had been placed on parkland along the Mississippi River as the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the collapse. The debris was also considered evidence in several lawsuits stemming from the collapse, so MnDOT was instructed not to remove it.

But Minneapolis residents and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board complained last year that the seven-acre park had been closed too long. The board sued, saying it was losing parking revenue because the park was closed.

MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said Friday that the department has come to an agreement with the park board and with victims of the bridge collapse who have a lawsuit pending against a contractor hired to inspect the bridge.  Moving the steel is expected to start in a couple weeks and will take some time, Gutknecht said.

"It has to be cut so it will fit on flatbed trucks," he said.  But he said MnDOT is happy to move it.  "We are really glad to be able to get that park open again. We know it's been a trial for the city and residents of the city," he said.  More from MPR News.

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The Takeaway

Is Gulf Seafood Really Safe?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A new report released this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) warns that the "oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses... indirect threats to seafood safety." State and federal officials, however, say they are aggressively testing seafood from the Gulf Coast in order to protect the public from any potential health risks from the oil that gushed continuously into the water for nearly three months. With these conflicting messages, how difficult will it be for the Gulf's seafood industry to get back on its feet?

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Transportation Nation

Men, Not Taxis, Are Most Likely to Hit NYC Pedestrians

Monday, August 16, 2010

(New York, NY - Collin Campbell)  Five years of data and 7,000 crash records are showing a rich picture of collisions between pedestrians and cars in New York City.  They're at the lowest point in recorded history, the Bloomberg Administration says, and the analysis released today may inform policy decisions to push them lower.

Among the findings from the mayor's announcement today:

•    Male drivers are involved in 80% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians.  They're only 57% of registered drivers in New York City.
•    Private vehicles – not taxis, trucks or buses – are involved in 79% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians.
•    Pedestrian fatalities in 2009 were down nearly 20 percent from 2001.

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Transportation Nation

'Leandra's Law,' and Ignition Locks for all DUIs in New York

Monday, August 16, 2010

The crash was fit for a rallying cry.  On October 11, 2009, Carmen Huertas was driving six children to her house for a slumber party.  She had been drinking, and, one of the kids in the car said, asked her young passengers to raise their hands if they thought "we're gonna get into an accident."

Huertas did crash the car, and the result was the death of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado.  As he grieved, her father started a campaign to make New York state's laws the toughest in the nation.  A month later, a new law was unanimously passed in Albany, and signed by the governor.

"Leandra's Law" as its now called, makes it a felony to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs while carrying passengers age 15 and under.  It went into effect statewide on Sunday.  UCLA transportation scholar Eric A. Morris says it does something even more important, however.

It requires any driver convicted of DWI to install an ignition interlock system on any car they drive.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Doubts about JetBlue flight attendant, runaway UK tube train, Ford's new Mustang

Friday, August 13, 2010

Runaway London tube train goes four miles without driver‎ (BBC News)

Investigators begin to doubt JetBlue flight attendant's story of provocation (WSJ)

Holocaust ties come up in CA high-speed rail, may hurt French bidder (AP)

First look at overhauled Ford Mustang.  Can good gas mileage come with a supercharged V-8?  (Chicago Tribune)

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Transportation Nation

Billings Gets New Pedestrian and Bike Network -- Officials Hope to Build Social Connections, As Well

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Photo: Jackie Yamanaka

(Billings, MT -- Jackie Yamanaka) Billings, Montana has had some pretty scary streets for bikes and pedestrians, but officials there are hoping to change that. The Billings Chamber of Commerce is launching a new bike and pedestrian trail system, and held a ribbon-cutting this week at what will be a bike/pedestrian trail under Montana's busiest highway. The City of Billings Alternate Transportation Modes Coordinator, Darlene Tussing, says safety is important for cyclists, but it's not the only reason to build trails.

"When we're in a car with our windshield in front of us and our metal around us we fell like we're hunkered in in this little -- when you're out on the trail and on your bicycle there's no barriers. It really does make a very strong social networking opportunity for the community."

Audio here.



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Transportation Nation

The Limits Of The NTSB

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) The role of the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, is a bit like that of a Greek chorus. The Board comes in after a tragedy has occurred and explains it to the audience - or, in this case, the general public.

That was its role in the case of last year's deadly train crash in Washington D.C.'s Metro, which killed eight passengers and one train operator. After a comprehensive investigation lasting more than a year, the NTSB released its final report on the crash late last month, amid much media attention.

The report laid bare all the factors that contributed to the train crash - not just technical malfunctions, but pervasive systemic mismanagement within Metro. It represented yet another day of negative headlines for Metro after a year of almost nothing but.

The legacy of the train crash hasn't simply been the nine lives it took. The crash ushered in a new era for Metro, in which it's struggled mightily to win back the trust of its riders. And despite the its exhaustive efforts, the NTSB can't offer Metro much help in doing this.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Drunken Boating on Decline in NJ; TWU to run dollar van service in Park Slope

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seattle may create transportation taxing district (Seattle Times)

Transit Workers Union to run dollar-van service in Brooklyn (Wall Street Journal)

Early findings from government investigation into runaway Toyotas shows no electronic problems (AP)

Idaho's congressional delegation supports heavier trucks on interstates -- despite new study showing that trucks aren't shouldering their share of highway costs (Idaho Statesman)

T party: Boston's MBTA comes in under budget this fiscal year (Metro Boston)

Drunken boating makes steep decline in New Jersey; strict penalties and mandatory water-safety course credited with change (Press of Atlantic City)

Bus drivers in Korea demand safety measures; threaten boycott following explosion of  Seoul bus running on compressed natural gas (Korea Herald)

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