April 4, 2008

Federal Railroad Administration Accident Investigation Reports

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) now makes accident investigation documents from 2005- available at

January 16, 2008

January 16, 2007 - NTSB Safety Recommendation

Yesterday the National Transporation Safety Board released a safety recommendation that addressed a design issue related to the August 1, 2007 I-35W bridge collapse.

The Safety Board is concerned that, for at least this bridge, there was a breakdown in the design review procedures that allowed a serious design error to be incorporated into the construction of the I-35W bridge. The bridge was designed with gusset plates that were undersized, and the design firm did not detect the design error when the plans were created. Because of this design error, the riveted gusset plates became the weakest member of this fracture-critical bridge, whereas normally gusset plates are expected to be stronger than the beams they connect. Further, there are few, if any, recalculations after the design stage that would detect design errors in gusset plates. Finally, other programs to ensure the safety of our Nation's bridges, such as the methods used in calculating load ratings and the inspections conducted through the NBIS program, are not designed or expected to uncover original mistakes in gusset plate designs or calculations. (from the Safety Recommendation Letter)


News Release - January 15, 2008

Safety Recommendation Letter - January 15, 2008

Federal Highway Administration - Interim Report - January 11, 2008

Additional resouces are available on the Government Publications Library I-35W Bridge Collapse site.

The final report regarding the bridge collapse is projected to be done by year end.

January 14, 2008

January 14, 2008 - Real I.D.s in the news

Real I.D.s in the news.

Have you had to go in and personally renew your drivers license this year? Take a new photo? You may then have heard about Real I.D.

What is a Real I.D. ?
Prior to September 11th, states were creating security measures to deal with counterfeit driver's licenses, identification cards, and dated licensing procedures. After September 11th, the federal government wanted to create a national id card.

That program takes effect in stages beginning this May, and the first actual licenses are due to be issued by 2011. But 17 states have passed legislation opposing the program, including six that have banned participation. Unless those six states -- Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington -- seek an extension by May, residents will have to submit other identification such as a passport, or face extra screening if they want to board a commercial flight.

While these efforts have caused much controversy, states and the federal government have accelerated efforts to ensure that DLs/IDs are secure.

Also out of the many post 9/11 reports and mandates came the Dept. of Homeland Security's efforts to create standards and guidelines for licenses and IDs. One of the bills signed into law is the Real ID Act of 2005, Title II of Real ID, Improved Security for Drivers License and Personal Identification Cards, which creates edits and directly imposes federal drivers license standards to prevent fraud, and create a system to promote communication between the states.

View information on that document at the Dept. of Homland Security's site:

All 245 million driver's licenses and identification cards will be required to make an in-person visit to their DMV in order to obtain a Real-ID compliant license. As a result, states will need to hire more employees and expand business hours to meet the deadline.

On January 11, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released final regulations to implement the requirements of the Real ID law. DHS estimates the costs for states to implement the Real ID will not exceed $3.9 billion. But other studies put the figure at over 11 Billion.

To read a copy of the Final Real ID Regulations, click here:
Regulations for Real ID

December 18, 2007

December 18, 2007 - House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

With spending bills in the news recently, such as the $195 million earmarked for the new I35 bridge, questions may come to mind regarding federal spending on transportation projects.

I35 bridge collapse small.JPG

You can find such news and information from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

You can find other bridge information at the Committee's site such as these links which will take you to a listing of maps depicting the structurally deficient bridges in the United States and each state and Congressional District.

Structurally Deficient Bridges in the United States

State by State Listing of Structurally Deficient Bridges

Check out the University's I35 Bridge page as well.

December 12, 2007

December 12, 2007 - Minnesota Northstar Rail

Northstar Rail

Northstar Rail and government resources.

The federal government is granting $156.8 million for commuter rail service commuter rail service on the 40-miles of track along Highways 10 and 47 from Big Lake to Minneapolis. Stations are proposed for Big Lake, Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Fridley, and Minneapolis, offering a connection to the Hiawatha LRT line in downtown Minneapolis.

Transportation Organization Links

Minnesota Rides-
The official web site of the Metro Transitways Development Board (a joint powers board of Metropolitan Counties), it addresses needs, transitways, legislative proposals and rail authorities in the Twin Cities Metro.

Rail Works -
RailWorks Corporation is the leading provider of track and transit systems construction services throughout North America.

Transit for Livable Communities -
A non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life in Minnesota communities through a balanced transportation system that encourages transit, walking, biking, and transit-oriented development.
Federal Railroad Administration

Federal funding and financial assistance for passenger rail.

Federal publications, studies and reports on passenger rail.

November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007 - Vehicle Miles Traveled (VTM) Statistics

A recent MPR report looks at the leveling off of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in both Minnesota and across the country. The Bureau of Transporation Statistics and Minnesota Department of Transporation provide several sources of information about transporation trends.

National Transportation Statistics

Minnesota Transportation Profile - 2000

U.S. Vehicle Miles Traveled January 1992 - June 2007

Highway Statistics 2005 - Selective Measurs for Identifying Peer States

Minnesota Department of Transportation - Vehicle Miles Traveled Reports

October 10, 2007

October 11, 2007 - Minnesota State Docs of Note-Website

The Metropolitan Council

The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning agency serving the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area and provides essential services to the region.

One of their goals and responsibilities is to improve our transit system as Minnesota grows. You can view their plans in the state document "Metropolitan Council’s 2030 plan".

This becomes of vital intrest as our transportation system ages and events like the 35W bridge collapse happen. One of the major improvements will be the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT).
You can find more detailed information about our future light rail -central line here:
St. Paul's Central Corridor Development Planning information
St. Paul's DRAFT Central Corridor Development Strategy

October 3, 2007

October 3, 2007 - August Airline On-time Performance Report available

Today the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its most recent Airline On-time Performance Report covering August 2007. "...The 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 71.7 percent in August, down from August 2006's 75.8 record but an improvement over July 2007's 69.8 percent."

The report also looks at customer complaints which rose 89 percent from last August (1,634 compared to 864).

Photo Source: Federal Aviation Administration

September 20, 2007

September 20, 2007 - Highway Bridges in the United States - an Overview

Bureau of Transportation (BTS) Special Report. September 2007. SR-003.
Highway Bridges in the United States - an Overview

Bridges are an integral part of the U.S. highway network, providing links across natural barriers, passage over railroads and highways, and freeway connections. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) maintains a database of our nation's highway bridges—the National Bridge Inventory (NBI)—with detailed information on all public road bridges greater than 20 feet. This special report gives a brief synopsis of that inventory, including bridge condition and the resources spent for maintenance and upgrades.