This Department understands that transportation is about people.
Not only does our nation's transportation network move drivers and passengers to the destinations they seek, but the same network also moves the goods Americans need, want, use, and sell every day.
Whether we're talking about safety or sustainability, infrastructure or innovation, the terrific professionals at DOT are here to serve their fellow Americans. And if I leave behind me nothing else after four and a half years as Secretary, I hope that I have helped educate the public about the extraordinary quality of service I've observed here.
Recently, I visited some of DOT's locations outside of Washington, DC--the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation's operations in Massena, NY, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA, and the FAA Tech Center in Atlantic City, NJ--to let the men and women of DOT know how much I appreciate the work they do.
It was especially important to me to visit the many DOT employees at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, and to recognize the hardships experienced by many of them during recent tornado events.
The Aeronautical Center is home to numerous Federal Aviation Administration operations-- as well as DOT's Transportation Safety Institute. The work we do in Oklahoma City contributes importantly to aviation safety and makes a real difference in people's lives. The Center team even supported our 2009 Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), also known as "Cash For Clunkers," processing hundreds of thousands of rebates in a very short time.
My first farewell stop was in Massena, NY, along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, where DOT's SLSDC operates two locks on the important binational waterway.
The Seaway is one of North America’s most dynamic and economically productive arteries, carrying about 40 million metric tons of waterborne cargo each year. The entire Great Lakes & Seaway System supports more than 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in annual economic activity. Its impressive operational and safety record is a tribute to the tireless work of SLSDC employees in the North Country of upstate New York.
The Volpe Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is deeply involved in a variety of transportation research. Whether it's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, high-speed rail, or connected vehicles, the odds are pretty good that, when a DOT program is research-driven, the Volpe Center has an expert hand in it.
The Volpe Center's eight Technical Centers address a variety of national transportation goals like safety, security, and sustainability--among others. The expertise of the multidisciplinary staff spans an equally wide range and includes civil, electrical, mechanical, and aeronautical engineers; physical and social scientists; human factors experts; economists; planners; information technologists; and safety operation specialists. Together, these men and women give credibility to DOT programs and policy.
I also visited the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The folks at the Tech Center --one of the nation's premier aviation research, development, test and evaluation facilities-- help us maintain the safest air transportation system in the world. They have also been instrumental in developing and implementing our Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), which is already helping us achieve shorter flight times, more efficient flights, less fuel burn, and reduced noise.Every one of the four sites I visited recently is staffed from top to bottom by the kind of people who represent the very best in public service.
They work tirelessly; they work smartly; and they work effectively to help us imagine, develop, implement, and maintain a transportation system that moves all of the goods and people our busy nation requires each and every day.
What we've been able to achieve at DOT on behalf of the American people in the past four and half years would not have been possible without their contributions.
And I cannot thank them enough for their service.