Top State Obama Department Official Admitted Benghazi Had Nothing to Do With Protests

(We did not write this article; the original article is HERE).

Transcript from September 12, 2012, Congressional Staff Call: Question from Congressional Staffer: ‘Was this attack under the cover of a protest?’

Answer from Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy: ‘No, this was a direct breaching attack.’

(Washington DC)—Judicial Watch today released 54 pages of new State Department documents, including a transcript of a September 12 2012, telephone conference call with congressional staffers in which then-Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy admitted that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack.”

The documents were produced in response to a January 29, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department failed to respond to an August 27, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:16-cv-00153)). The recently settled lawsuit sought:

  • All records of security waivers issued for the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act (SECCA);
  • All records related to the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya being “excepted from office facility standards and accountability” under SECCA as

The transcript was contained in an email from Julie K. Bulgrin, the State Department Bureau of Legislative Affairs director for Global and Functional Affairs:

From: Bulgrin, Julie K.

Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:55 PM

To: H_Egypt; Canedo, Denese; Lang, Alan; ‘Rodriguez Miguel’; ‘Arguelles, Adam’; ‘Lundebergy, Greta’; ‘Ortiz, Michael’; ‘Lee Collin’; Pitkin, Douglas A; Maier, Christina A

Subject: Write up of U/S Kennedy Call with Hill re Libya

The call ended up starting around 6:30. Here are the raw notes.

***

  • Rob Carter – was this an attack under the cover of a protest?
  • No, this was a direct breaching attack.
  • Do we have any ideas of who launched? Leads?
  • Some claims from someone who has never made threat before, but everyone is looking at this closely.
  • Do we believe coordinated w/Cairo?
  • Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.

The call notes also detail that Amb. Stevens got of the compound, but “collapsed” and was taken to the hospital.  Kennedy also said that it was his personal opinion that the attack “was semi-complex.”

When asked why no Americans troops were inserted, Kennedy responded that “the entire thing lasted approximately 4.5 hours. No US forces within time to get there.”  (This was false, troops were available and could have arrived in time to provide support during the second attack on the CIA annex, which according to Kennedy, was assaulted by 100 attackers.)

The documents also include a September 13, 2012, email in which an unidentified sender reveals that as early as December 2011, the State Department confirmed the necessity for making a wide variety of “physical security upgrades.” Those upgrades included:

  • Concrete, jersey-type barriers installed curbside and on the villa ground to block unused vehicle gates.
  • Four steel, manual drop-arms (vehicle barriers) for access control and anti-ram protection.
  • Compound lighting increased for LGP observation.
  • Barbed wire installed on top of the existing perimeter wall to raise height.
  • Installation of barbed wire on top of the interior chain link fence to create a secondary barrier.
  • Installation of several LGP platforms for property and street surveillance.
  • Construction of four guard booths.
  • Installation of steel grill work on all windows not already treated with this protection.
  • Erecting sandbag emplacements for internal defense purposes.
  • Hardening villas with safe rooms with a steel door.

Though some of these “physical security upgrades” were apparently made, according to the State Department Accountability Review Board report issued on December 20, 2012, sufficient security remained an issue at the time of the attack:

Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.

The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades.

Despite Kennedy’s admission on September 12 that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows the Sunday, September 16, to claim the attack was due to a “spontaneous protest” and was not premeditated.

Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video … We do not—we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

Based upon the work of Judicial Watch , the House Select Committee was appointed as the direct result of emails uncovered by Judicial Watch showing White House orchestration of the knowingly false narrative that the Benghazi attack was due to an Internet video and spontaneous protests.  The documents were obtained through federal court order obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

On June 30, 2016, Kennedy was deposed by Judicial Watch regarding Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s use of the clintonemail.com system to conduct official government business.  Kennedy testified that the significance did not “register” with him that Clinton was using a non-state.gov email account even though he communicated with her by email. Though he was undersecretary for management of three of the four offices charged with ensuring State Department policies practices and procedures are followed, he told Judicial Watch attorneys he had no opinion as to whether policies were violated except to say that State Department records-management policy encourages employees to use state.gov addresses for official business.

On Thursday, January 26, Patrick Kennedy left his position at the State Department.

“This document removes any further doubt that the State Department and the Obama administration knew immediately after the assault on Benghazi that it was a well-orchestrated terrorist attack and not a ‘spontaneous demonstration’ over a ‘hateful video,’ as the Obama administration repeatedly claimed,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “These documents show that the Benghazi scandal is not over … not by a long shot.”

Mexico Announces Alert After Theft of Container With Radioactive Materials

(We did not write this article; the original article is HERE).

Country’s National Coordinator for Civil Protection Luis Felipe Puente said that Mexico has announced alert in six country’s states after a container with radioactive materials has been stolen.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Mexico has announced alert in six country’s states after a container with radioactive materials has been stolen, country’s National Coordinator for Civil Protection Luis Felipe Puente said.

“The alert [is announced] because of the stolen radiation source… If you see it call 911 and do not open it,” Puente said on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

He added that the alert was announced in the states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Michoacan, Queretaro San Luis Potosi and the State of Mexico.

This is not the first case, when radioactive materials are stolen in Mexico. In April 2013, a container with cobalt-60 isotope was stolen, while in 2014, 2015 and 2016 criminals stole iridium isotopes in three different cases. All these radioactive materials were found later.

U.S. Government’s Official 5-Year Plan For Infrastructure Improvement

(We did not write this article, the original article is HERE).

The problem of the rapidly declining and abysmal infrastructure in the United States is one that nearly everyone experiences and can comment on. These problems are even openly admitted and seriously discussed in FedGov’s official long-term white paper.

It’s easy to deride, mock, and gripe about the government’s failure in this regard and even make light of it, such as when I posted videos comparing our nation’s interstates to six flags rolercoasters last week. But this is actually a very serious topic and I am interested productive solutions, as I’m sure you are.

Growing up in Southern California, driving and freedom to travel has always been a huge part of my life and my very identity. Growing up, my family took a lot of vacations and us kids always had the freedom to go basically to go where we wanted. I got my driver license on my 16th birthday, not a day later- as did all of my 5 older siblings. Somehow (actually, through their dedication and very hard work,) my parents always provided vehicles for all of us to drive.

 

Transportation and freedom of travel, as well as the quality of of roads and infrastructure is fundamental to our very liberty, freedom of movement, and our very American identity, at least as I understand it.

Restrictions on that travel, including violations of privacy, unneeded environmental restrictions, and monetary restrictions or fees that limit our resources and decrease our financial well being, are restrictions on liberty. Unfortunately, all of these things are being openly admitted and planned by our federal government.


Restrictions on this liberty, which include onerous and unnecessary fees, taxes, tolls, charges, as well as restrictions on the very vehicles we can own or operate, the mode or frequency of our travel, are extremely important to keep an eye on. This doesn’t mean that the sky is falling or a suggestion to be overly paranoid about oppressive big-brother government. Let’s just look at and be aware of what FedGov is actually planning and keep them in check.

 

I think that we should follow this topc very closely so that we are aware and not ignorant of the government’s long term plans. And trust me- as you will see below, they do indeed have very specific plans, and I don’t believe that they are always in our best interest. We need to give them our input in our areas of expertise and pressure our elected representaives at local, county, state and national levels to work for the best interests of the people.

One of these ways is to watch how many millions, billions, and even trillions of dollars our government steals and ‘loses’ with no consequence whatsoever. All of this missing or wasted money cohld have been allotted to have already repaired our national infrastructure. For example, they lose literally trillions of dollars, such as from the Pentagon and Dept. Of Defense Budgets, yet they want to tax and fees us to death to drive on and maintain our own roads? That is ridiculous, criminal, and gravely immoral.

I think that the revenue that the government collects is actually already addquate to maintain and repair the infrastructure, they just need to be held accountable to do it.

Otherwise we are going to see increased costs out of our pocket, which will prevent many Americans from travelling freely as they wish.

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation is a massive operation tasked with very important responsibilities. I do not claim that everyone involved has bad intent. But we must be aware of their long term openly-admitted plans. For example, ‘increased revenue sources’ and the ‘effects of climate change’ are key proponent in this nearly 200 page document which I am about to excerpt from.

I haven’t had time to go through this whole document but here are some points of interest regarding the DOT’s 5-year plan for infrastructure, technology, and revenue enhancement. If you find anything of interest feel free to send it to me or post it in the comment section at the very bottom of this page.

This is a very interesting topic and with the new administration promising to make our country and infrastructure great again, this is going to cost a great deal of money.

It is very important to follow the state and federal government’s actual plans for all this. I have been reporting on these government infrastructure and revenue schemes for years. My work in this regard has been featured in many mainstream and independent websites such as The National Motorists Association, OverdriveOnline.com, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, LewRockwell.com, EcoomicPolicyJournal.com, Devvy.com, DavidIcke.com, and many other top sites. Tbe Wall Street Journal interviewed me about red light camera tickets in 2008.

You can check my Trucking archives, my 4th Amendment trucking website DontWakeMeUp.org, and my fighting traffic ticket section and red-light camera ticket section for much more. Even my Filming Cops Archives is very relevant in regards to transportaion, as that is a protection to our liberty.

For example I filmed two rogue Texas troopers when they violated my 4th Amendment and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s) ‘Hours of Service’ rules, and they were subsequently punished by their own department and forced to undergo retraining. I have had police internal affairs investigators in Southern California admit to me on video that Americans can record police whenever they want in a public place. I have beaten fraudulent speeding tickets in California Superior Court of Appeals, without a lawyer, a case in which the witness (the revenue agent cop) was literally legally declared ‘incompetent to testify.’ LOL.

You see, this isn’t just a blog for me. This is real life and is about fighting for and maintaining our liberties.


Here are a few very revealing excerpts from the DOT’s 5-year report:

 

How We Align Decisions and DollarsAs the transportation system has grown and become more complex, transportation decision- making has become more difficult, transportation projects have become more costly, and revenue challenges have grown. Responsibilities for planning, financing, permitting, constructing, and operating infrastructure have become more and more frag- mented and it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile local goals, while ensuring transportation investments are efficient at a regional level. Transportation investments have failed to keep pace with increasing needs and much of our infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. New policies are needed to generate sufficient revenues to meet the needs of our transportation system, prioritize funding to cost- effectively improve mobility, and incentivize efficiency and performance.

“…Underinvestment in transportation infrastructure across every mode has created a massive mainte- nance backlog, which has increased maintenance costs and reduced transportation system performance. Of the 612,000 public road bridges in the transportation system, nearly one-tenth of them are structurally deficient. Poor pavement conditions cost the average motorist an estimated $516 annually in additional fuel and repair costs.Public transit systems in the United States face an estimated $86 billion backlog in preservation investments. As a result, users of many of the older systems are now experiencing more frequent service disrup- tions. Intercity passenger rail also faces a serious maintenance deficit.”

“…Our Nation faces a growing opportunity gap. The top 10 percent of income-earning families now earn as much as the remaining 90 percent combined. Adjusted for inflation, median incomes are virtually the same as they were 30 years ago. More than 46 million people live in poverty. There is growing recognition that transportation policy also has an important role to play in addressing rising economic inequality and segregation. There is no opportunity without transportation.Transportation connects Americans to the schools, jobs, and social services and networks that help them get ahead. Transportation policy and investments must empower Americans to connect to opportunity and to come together, not grow apart.”

 

Here are many more extensive excerpted archives from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ‘DOT Five-Year RD&T Strategic Plan (FY 2017-2021)’. The particularly interesting parts I highlighted in bold text.

1.3.1. How We Move

The biggest drivers of transportation demand—our growing population and economy—will continue to increase demand for passenger travel and freight across nearly all modes. Over the next 30 years our population is expected to grow by nearly 70 million and our economy will nearly double. Popula- tion growth will likely be concentrated in sprawling metropolitan areas in the South and the West, fueling the growth of emerging “megaregions” that could absorb three quarters of our population. This growth is straining infrastructure across all transportation modes—roads, rails, aviation, ports, and pipelines.

Inadequate investments to support such growth is resulting in increasing congestion, greater pollution, and a deteriorating infrastructure. Demand for transportation is shifting in response to cultural and economic changes and technological advances. Cities are getting “smarter” and experienc- ing a resurgence, and Americans—young Americans especially—are increasingly likely to bike, walk, or take transit rather than drive to get where they are going. Overall, however, shifts to non-driving modes have had a relatively minor impact on overall travel patterns, for which auto use remains the dominant mode.

1.3.2. How We Move Things Freight travel is growing and changing rapidly, strain- ing our transportation system. Freight volumes are projected to increase by 45 percent over the next 30 years across all modes. The globalization of the economy means that ensuring capacity at our ports and the infrastructure connecting them with the rest of the Nation is critical. The spread of real-time tracking of vehicles, containers, and rail cars has permitted logis- tics companies to steadily improve the productivity and performance of their fleets.

Americans are increas- ingly shopping online, increasing the importance of package delivery. Dramatic increases in domestic gas and oil production are causing tectonic shifts in fuel shipments as new production areas emerge, exports of oil and liquefied natural gas have begun, and flows of imported and competing fuels have diminished.

 

1.3.3. How We Adapt

Climate change is a rising threat. The challenges of adapting to growing and shifting transportation demand is compounded by an increasingly changing climate. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of our econo- my’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing these emis- sions to mitigate climate change will require a long-term, multifaceted transformation of our transportation sector.

Reducing transportation emissions will require improv- ing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, supporting electric vehicle and low-carbon fuel research and infra- structure, and shifting demand away from congested roadways to more sustainable modes. We also need to recognize the potential impacts of climate change on travel and take steps to improve the resiliency of our transportation system.

Many of our transportation facilities are vulnerable to damage caused by the severe storms, rising sea levels, drought, and extremes of temperature associated with climate change.

1.3.4. How We Move Better

Technological innovation in information technology, navigation systems, communications and mobile plat- forms, automated and connected vehicles, and clean energy hold the promise of making our future trans- portation system safer, more accessible and efficient, and more environmentally sustainable. Advances in data processing are enabling governments and private companies alike to improve transportation services and better target investments. Government is rewiring to become more supportive of these beneficial tech- nologies, while ensuring that they are safe and secure.

1.3.5. How We Grow Opportunity

Our Nation faces a growing opportunity gap. The top 10 percent of income-earning families now earn as much as the remaining 90 percent combined. Adjusted for inflation, median incomes are virtually the same as they were 30 years ago. More than 46 mil- lion people live in poverty. There is growing recogni- tion that transportation policy also has an important role to play in addressing rising economic inequality and segregation. There is no opportunity without transportation.

Transportation connects Americans to the schools, jobs, and social services and networks that help them get ahead. Transportation policy and investments must empower Americans to connect to opportunity and to come together, not grow apart.

 

1.3.6. How We Align Decisions and Dollars

As the transportation system has grown and become more complex, transportation decision- making has become more difficult, transportation projects have become more costly, and revenue challenges have grown. Responsibilities for planning, financing, permitting, constructing, and operating infrastructure have become more and more frag- mented and it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile local goals, while ensuring transportation investments are efficient at a regional level. Trans- portation investments have failed to keep pace with increasing needs and much of our infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. New policies are needed to generate sufficient revenues to meet the needs of our transportation system, prioritize funding to cost- effectively improve mobility, and incentivize efficiency and performance.

1.3.6. How We Align Decisions and Dollars

As the transportation system has grown and become more complex, transportation decision- making has become more difficult, transportation projects have become more costly, and revenue challenges have grown. Responsibilities for planning, financing, permitting, constructing, and operating infrastructure have become more and more frag- mented and it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile local goals, while ensuring transportation investments are efficient at a regional level. Trans- portation investments have failed to keep pace with increasing needs and much of our infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. New policies are needed to generate sufficient revenues to meet the needs of our transportation system, prioritize funding to cost- effectively improve mobility, and incentivize efficiency and performance.

How do we get beyond traffic?

Essentially, three strategies need to be employed—all of which demand increased funding and new, more adaptive policymak- ing at the Federal, State and local levels. First, we have to take better care of our legacy transportation systems. We cannot cross bridges that have fallen apart or connect commerce to ports in disrepair. Second, we must build what is new and necessary, taking into account changes in living patterns and where products will move to and from. Third, we must use technologies and better design approaches that will allow us to maximize the use of our old and new transportation assets.
– Secretary Anthony R. Foxx, Beyond Traffic

vv .2. Emerging Technology

Transportation is evolving from a field focused on operational efficiency to one of the most innovative and rapidly changing areas of the economy. Emerg- ing technology areas with the potential to significantly impact the transportation sector include unmanned aircraft systems, automated vehicles and other unmanned ground vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), and on-demand ride services. These, and other emerging technologies have the potential to advance the U.S. DOT’s mission of providing safe, clean, accessible, and affordable transportation but they raise a number of new policy and technical issues.

The Department is encouraging innovation using the following strategies, while ensuring that these emerg- ing technologies are deployed safely and in a manner that provides opportunity to all citizens.

Bolster Fundamental Research Capabilities in the Department

Private sector innovators are invested heavily in many emerging transportation technology areas as they look to bring new systems to the market. To leverage these efforts for public benefit, the Department must proac- tively address regulatory demands while engaging with private and public partners to identify, research, and support areas that may not be sufficiently addressed by the private sector. As demonstrated by the rapid spread of unmanned aerial systems and the development of fully automated vehicles, the private sector can rapidly produce new regulatory demands. Without sufficient in-house expertise in these areas, it is unclear who can be trusted to provide unbiased technical advice to regulators and policymakers, and government response can lag the market’s demand for clarity. Furthermore, policy becomes reactive to developments in the private sector instead of taking its place in guiding the develop- ment of future transportation. The U.S. DOT must ensure that it is in a position to rapidly respond to the regulatory challenges posed by emerging technologies so that the technologies are developed with safety in mind and that considerations such as affordability and accessibility for those with disabilities are considered in the development process. To respond to and guide the development of emerging technology requires that the Department bol- ster its research capabilities in these areas, particularly with regard to safety research and innovation, and main- tain close connection to the larger research community.

Learn Quickly through Real-world Deployment of these Technologies

Demonstration or pilot projects provide a way to learn quickly about the performance and impacts of new technologies and enable alternatives to be tested in a safe environment before being opened up to broader use in the city, on the highway, or in the national airspace system. U.S. DOT has successfully demonstrated pilot deployment of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication technology on a city-wide scale. Such pilots create new laboratories for investigating opportunities and chal- lenges across modes and across the full spectrum of issues from technical alternatives to policy choices.

Maintain and Improve Critical Infrastructure

Emerging technologies will also place new demands on current infrastructure built, supported, or oper- ated by the U.S. DOT. Automated vehicles operate on highways and bridges, drones must coexist in the National Airspace System, and a wide range of traveler services, V2V and V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) appli- cations and on-demand mobility options require posi- tion and time information from the Global Positioning System. To support emerging technologies, physical infrastructure must be maintained; and the information and communication technology systems necessary to support them, such as GPS or DSRC; must be strengthened to ensure they are secure, robust, and resilient.

Research that can identify and quantify the interaction between infrastructure and emerging tech- nologies may greatly accelerate their deployment. Share Experiences across Modes, Agencies, and Organizations With all of these emerging technologies, research results must be developed quickly in order to be avail- able to policymakers and other stakeholders when needed. This requires sharing information and experi- ence across modes and stakeholders since many of these emerging technologies inherently cross modes.

Mobility on demand concepts, for instance, blur the lines separating transit, motor carriers, and private ownership. These technologies often appear earlier in some modes giving the opportunity to learn from prior experience with sufficient communication and coor- dination. For example, automated highway vehicles raise issues of distraction and attention similar to those studied previously with pilots and aircraft auto- mation.

 

The lessons of automated ground vehicles and unmanned aircraft may, in turn, prove useful in examining the impact of automation on ships. Devel- oping research results quickly also requires sharing data to make the best use of existing knowledge and experience across modes, Federal agencies, and outside stakeholders. Responding to the theme of emerging technologies also requires strengthening research coordination and leveraging Big Data……

2.3. Strengthening Research Coordination

Transportation research in the United States is highly fragmented, with multiple participants and layers, including several Federal agencies, numerous State and local transportation departments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local and regional tran- sit agencies, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as a large and diverse private sector. Effective coordina- tion with these entities, plus the vast array of overseas organizations, is essential to making the most efficient use of scarce research dollars, minimizing duplicative activities, and moving the country’s transportation research forward in a cohesive fashion.

Stakeholder feedback received during the development of this Plan indicated that the U.S. DOT, and the transportation research community in general, needs to strengthen research coordination across modes, jurisdictions, institutions, sectors, and international boundaries. Enhancing Research Coordination within U.S. DOT The FAST Act established a new vehicle for internal research coordination by requiring the submission of Annual Modal Research Plans (AMRP) by each modal administration and Joint Program Office for review and approval by the Office of the Secretary. The act of developing these plans by the modal administrations, which include details of coordination and collaboration with other U.S. DOT agencies and external stakehold- ers, and the subsequent review process conducted by OST-R, enhances the depth and coverage of exist- ing Departmental coordination functions led by OST-R and provides additional safeguards against research duplication across the Department.

The FAST Act also requires a Consolidated Research Database that lists the research abstracts, activities, and outputs of U.S. DOT’s research portfolio at the project level. The U.S. DOT intends to meet this require- ment by building upon its Research Hub database and adding new content and functionality to provide the required comprehensive account of the Department’s research. This “U.S. DOT Research Hub 2.0” will be used to identify opportunities for collaboration, conduct cross-modal research reviews, review budget alloca- tions in different priority areas, and ensure that no dupli- cation of activity occurs.

The database will continue to be used to track the lifecycle of U.S. DOT research through to outputs, outcomes, and “real world” impacts, thus providing the ability to demonstrate and evaluate the value of the Department’s research invest- ment to the nation’s transportation system. Enhancing Research Coordination with Other Federal Agencies Recognizing the fact that other Federal agencies outside U.S. DOT conduct transportation research, the Department will continue to identify and pursue opportunities to meet national research priorities through partnerships with other Federal agencies.

For example, the research portfolios of U.S. DOT and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have become increas- ingly interrelated as transportation system and modal integration increases, prompting more formalized coor- dination. The two Departments signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016, and they are now developing a joint research action plan to cover topics like Smart Cities, connected and automated vehicles, and alterna- tive fuels and electric vehicle research. Continuation of this and similar efforts can significantly leverage Federal investments and develop more robust, cross-cutting research finding.….

 

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy

On September 20, 2016, NHTSA announced a new Federal Automated Vehicles Policy to help facilitate the responsible introduction of automated vehicles to make transportation safer, more accessible, and more efficient. The primary focus of the policy is on highly automated vehicles (HAVs), or those in which the vehicle can take full control of the driving task in at least some circumstances. Components of the Policy include: • Vehicle Performance Guidance for manufacturers, devel- opers, and other organizations outlining a 15 point “Safety Assessment” for the safe design, development, testing, and deployment of highly automated vehicles. • Model State Policy that clearly distinguishes Federal and State responsibilities and recommends policy areas for states to consider. • Current Regulatory Tools that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can use to aid the safe development of automated vehicles.

• New Regulatory Tools: This discussion identifies potential new regulatory tools and statutory authorities that may aid the safe and efficient deployment of new lifesaving technologies. ….

[Money money]

4.3. Improving Infrastructure Improving Infrastructure covers issues related to the condition, costs, fund- ing, and delivery of the transportation infrastructure, as well as methods and technologies to increase its durability and resilience. The U.S. DOT’s goal is to improve the durability and extend the life of the transportation infrastructure, pre- serve the existing transportation system, and ensure that the United States proac- tively maintains critical transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair. Underinvestment in transportation infrastructure across every mode has created a massive mainte- nance backlog, which has increased maintenance costs and reduced transportation system perfor- mance. Of the 612,000 public road bridges in the transportation system, nearly one-tenth of them are structurally deficient. Poor pavement conditions cost the average motorist an estimated $516 annu- ally in additional fuel and repair costs. Public transit systems in the United States face an estimated $86 billion backlog in preservation investments. As a result, users of many of the older systems are now experiencing more frequent service disrup- tions. Intercity passenger rail also faces a serious maintenance deficit—the Northeast rail corridor alone requires investments of nearly $1.5 billion per year over 15 years to bring it into a state of good repair and maintain that condition.

The United States’ largest ports association has projected that nearly $155 billion in investment from 2016 to 2020 will be needed to upgrade ports’ waterside facilities to accommodate increasingly larger vessels. More than 60 percent of the navigation locks on inland waterways are over 50 years of age and require frequent repair, increasing congestion and the cost of transporting commodities.

Finally, in addition to preserving structures, transporta- tion agencies face growing challenges in preserving and updating information and communications tech- nologies to keep pace with technological change and ensure continuity of operations.

Transportation research can support the develop- ment and application of advanced materials and technologies to improve durability, extend the life of the transportation infrastructure, and reduce maintenance needs. Advances in robotics, sensors, and navigation systems can improve the inspection, monitoring, and maintenance of infrastructure. Inspection tools such as ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and acoustic arrays can help to assess structural condi- tions. Development of advanced materials can enable new infrastructure designs, improve structural resilience to natural disasters, and accelerate construction and repair. Research into rapid reconstruction and repair methods can help to mitigate construction delays and work zone safety risks, and speed disaster recovery.

Deteriorating infrastructure conditions are a result of underinvestment and deferred maintenance. Many transportation agencies lack sufficient funding to maintain infrastructure in a state of good repair. Funding scarcity often forces transportation agencies to defer maintenance of assets; the ultimate costs associated with repair then increase, further worsening the prob- lem. Adjusted for inflation, transportation spending at all levels of government fell by $29 billion, or 12 percent, between 2002 and 2012.

Transportation user fee rev- enues are also not keeping up with the costs of main- taining, operating, and expanding infrastructure assets.

In response, many State and local governments have found innovative ways to raise revenues and finance transportation projects. Some transportation agencies have used public-private partnerships to deliver privately financed highway, transit, and rail projects. Further research can help transportation agencies evaluate and use innovative sources of revenue, finance, and contracting to deliver transportation projects.

The effects of climate change—warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and increased frequency of severe weather—will damage the infrastructure and make travel conditions across all modes increasingly unreli- able and ultimately more expensive. Higher tem- peratures may cause warping of railroad tracks, and increase evaporation of lakes and waterways used by cargo vessels.

Increased frequency of severe weather will cause more frequent disruptions to travel and increase recovery costs. Sea-level rise, coupled with a higher frequency of severe weather, will make low-lying infrastructure increasingly vulnerable to flooding from storm surges. Governments may need to divert funds.

 

…to relocating infrastructure and completing weather- related repairs—inconveniencing the public with clo- sures, detours, and disruptions. The regional impacts of climate change on infrastructure are not well under- stood and further research can assist decision makers with assessing vulnerabilities and planning the wide range of adaptation strategies that will be required.

There is opportunity for collaboration in the follow- ing areas:

• Transportation system research and analysis that assesses infrastructure investments and the impact of cargos on system assets.

• Facilitated research and studies that evaluate the potential for increased utilization of waterway transportation in an effort to increase the longevity of other surface transportation infrastructure.

• Research to better monitor the condition of the Nation’s infrastructure and to integrate conditions and performance information to more efficiently manage our infrastructure assets.

Testing bridge components at the Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center FHWA Key R&D strategies for improving the infrastructure include:

• Long Term Infrastructure (Pavement and Bridge) Performance Research

• Enable greater automation in highway construction and integration of data from design to construction to asset management

• Improving the management of infrastructure assets; and

• Improving highway condition and performance through improvements in design, materials, con- struction and maintenance innovations.

Examples of FHWA’s infrastructure research are highlighted below. Future Interstate Study The FHWA has entered into a cooperative agree- ment with TRB to conduct a Future Interstate System Study, as required by the FAST Act. The goal of this agreement is to plan, perform, and document a study that examines the actions needed to upgrade and restore the Interstate System as a premier system that meets the growing and shifting demands of the 21st Century. The study will contain specific recommenda- tions about the features, standards, capacity needs, application of technologies, and intergovernmental roles to upgrade the Interstate System; including any revisions to law and regulations as appropriate.

Highway Tunnel Fire Suppression Systems

This topic was selected for the FY 2016 GBP and the study is in the early planning stage. The purpose of the study is to examine the state of technology in countries where fire suppression systems have been success- fully deployed in highway tunnels. The goal is to under- stand effective practices and lessons learned and then bring this information to U.S. tunnel owners so that they can improve safety, streamline operations, and more effectively conduct tunnel research. The study is expected to accelerate the deployment of technology that will enhance safety in tunnels, produce long-term cost savings, and promote innovation that has been proven and accepted in other important industries. Ultra-High Performance Concrete Connections for Prefabricated Bridge Elements FHWA’s pioneering research efforts in bridge construc- tion technologies and advanced concretes has led to the development of the Ultra-High Performance Con- crete (UHPC) Connections innovation that is transform- ing the way bridges are constructed. UHPC is the next generation of concrete, providing exceptional strength and resiliency. Bridge construction is embracing the use of prefabricated systems because of the high quality of the components and the ability to acceler- ate construction activities. However, wider adoption of precast bridge elements has been hindered by the lack of commensurately performing connection solutions.

 

UHPC connections address this Achilles’ heel and thus facilitate broad adoption of prefabricated systems and the concurrent performance benefits that come from standardization and factory-controlled production of bridge components. Since the first US deployment of the UHPC connections technology in 2009, there have been more than 60 further deployments across more than a dozen States. Ongoing projects include inter- state highway bridges, major river crossings, and miles- long viaducts. More than 40 States are working toward integrating this solution into their bridge programs with the ongoing support of the Every Day Counts program.

CROSS-MODAL RESEARCH AREA:

Infrastructure Resilience

The ability to identify, assess, and mitigate threats to critical infrastructure is essential to maintaining secure and resilient systems capable of rapid recovery from hazards; including natural disasters, climate change, cyber-attacks, industrial accidents, pandemics, terrorism, sabotage, and destructive criminal activity.

Understanding the behavior of infrastructure systems in the face of threats and vulnerabilities, and taking steps to make those systems more resilient, are critical to risk management and drive Federal R&D efforts. The Transportation Systems Sector was identified as one of five National Priority Areas for R&D investment in the National Critical Infrastruc- ture Security and Resilience (CISR) Research and Development (R&D) Plan (November 2015). The Office of the Secretary of Transportation’s Office of Intelligence, Security and Emergency Response represents DOT as the co-Sector Specific Agency for the Transportation Systems Sector. The Sector in now implementing the CISR R&D Plan. Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) systems and high-performance materials are among the areas identified as priorities for cross-modal research.

The Department also recognizes the need to respond to the threats posed by climate change to our Nation’s transportation infrastructure. Follow- ing the successful Gulf Coast Phase II study in Mobile, Alabama, which produced nationally-recognized vulnerability assessment tools, the Depart- ment is now working with local, State, and Federal stakeholders in Hampton Roads, Virginia, to develop tools and methodologies for quantifying the cost of adaptation to sea level rise, storm surge, and other climate change-related threats. Both studies were sponsored by U.S. DOT’s Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting and align with the Department’s Climate Adaptation Plan–Ensuring Transportation Infrastruc- ture and System Resilience, published in 2014.

LTPP InfoPaveTM

Launched in 2014, LTPP InfoPave™ gives users the ability to easily tap into data, supporting documenta- tion and findings derived from the LTPP Program. The LTPP Program was formally established by the U.S. Congress in the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987, as part of the first Strategic Highway Research Program. LTPP InfoPave™ is an important part of FHWA’s efforts to improving infrastructure durability and supporting open data. Understanding pavement performance and reliable performance predictions are fundamental to effective management of pave- ment assets. The LTPP Program has made significant contributions to improve performance prediction and understand how and why pavements behave as they do. Decades later, MAP-21 called for a data-driven per- formance management framework to be used by State highway agencies to guide pavement investment deci- sions. Data, information, and products offered through LTPP InfoPaveTM will be instrumental in providing pave- ment performance information to help State agencies fulfill the performance requirements of MAP-21. Civil Integrated Management The rapid development of information technologies and technological advancement in heavy highway construction equipment and processes are dynami- cally changing the design, construction, and main- tenance of a world class transportation system. Civil Integrated Management (CIM) is the collection, organization, managed accessibility, and use of accu- rate data and information throughout the life cycle of a transportation asset. It impacts a wide range of pur- poses including planning, environmental assessment, surveying, construction, maintenance, asset manage- ment, and risk assessment. FHWA is deploying the CIM related technologies and techniques of 3, 4, 5, xD modeling, intelligent compaction, and e-Construction.

As a part of CIM, FHWA is also demonstrating how data from design and construction can be integrated with operations and maintenance. FHWA is work- ing closely with partners (contractors, consultants, vendors, and owner agencies) to perform research, development and national deployment of the technol- ogy. In particular, FHWA is focusing on encouraging data interoperability and identifying technologies and techniques that leverage CIM data to improve our nation’s highways safety, efficiency and effectiveness.

Infrastructure Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Changes in Climate

This study was conducted in 2015 under the pilot Global Benchmarking Program. The purpose of the study was to identify innovative and best practices abroad that could help advance the development and implementation of transportation adaptation strategies in the United States. Based on information collected through a virtual international review, the study found that the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have moved beyond research and are actively constructing assets incorporating climate resilience.

FHWA is compiling findings from the study into a report that will be shared with the United States trans- portation community. Specific implementation actions will be followed to help transportation agencies effec- tively analyze climate impacts and adapt the way they build and maintain infrastructure. Preliminary actions include updating national guidelines and manuals based on key study findings, developing a National Highway Institute training course, and increasing cooperation on adaptation issues with other govern- ment agencies. Connections developed with coun- terparts in the countries visited are resulting in further information exchange and collaboration.

Climate Change Adaptation

To better understand the potential impacts of climate change on the transportation systems, and to develop methods and approaches to conduct assessments of risk and vulnerability, FHWA partnered with State DOTs, MPOs and Federal Lands Highway Divisions from around the country on 24 climate resilience pilot proj- ects. In addition, FHWA has sponsored four cooperative projects in the Gulf Coast, Northeast, Southeast, and New Mexico. These combined 28 projects have col- lectively produced a huge body of knowledge; this has changed how the transportation profession approaches this important and critical topic.

Lessons learned, tools and methodologies created, and techniques used from these pilots and projects will be used to update FHWA’s key resource on the topic: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework.

More information is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot. gov/environment/climate_change/adaptation.

Big Data or Preserving Infrastructure:

FHWA’s Long-Term Bridge Performance

(LTBP) Program’s Bridge Portal
The Bridge Portal is a web based Data Management and Business Intelligence tool that was developed as part of FHWA’s LTBP Program. The LTBP Bridge Portal has a two-fold purpose: (1) provide for storage, retrieval, dissemination, analysis and visualization of data col- lected through LTBP research efforts, and (2) provide users with the ability to holistically assess bridge performance. As the Bridge Portal becomes more fully developed and populated, the bridge-related data sources, along with the visualization and statistical tools in the Bridge Portal, will enable a more comprehensive understanding of how bridges perform from both a network and an individual project perspective.

FAA

Recognizing that weather accounts for the majority of air traffic delays and that a significant portion of those delays are potentially avoidable, the FAA continues to conduct R&D to mitigate the impact of weather on the National Airspace System. The NextGen NAS Infrastruc- ture portfolio conducts pre-implementation activities to reduce risk for aviation weather-related and cross-cutting engineering issues. This portfolio provides the research, development, and analysis of portfolio capabilities such as validation activities, human system engineering, and demonstrations. It addresses aviation weather-related issues by supporting the improvement of: (1) air traffic management (ATM) decision-making during adverse weather conditions, (2) weather forecasting in the trans- formed NAS, and (3) existing weather infrastructure. Airfield design is often a process that must balance safety, efficiency, capacity and other factors. Studies performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the last several years analyzed the role of taxiway and apron design coupled with operational procedures to reduce the probability of runway incursions. Airport Design and Operations Teams subjected the cumula- tive study results to a series of assessments at selected airports across the National Airspace System (NAS). The office of airports addressed a variety of airport-specific issues at different types of airports, including issues involving taxiway layout inherited from an older airfield runway configuration, issues associated with runway crossings, and discontinuing the practice of using a runway as a taxiway. All such findings are culminated into updates to airport circulars aimed to improve airfield infrastructure by design.

Improved knowledge and awareness of opportunities and challenges relating to public-private partnerships (P3s); and an improved statutory and policy frame- work that enables and supports P3s. Medium- to long-term outcomes include an integration of P3 use and improved decision making capabilities within States.

 

Looks like Republicans Won’t Repeal Obamacare: Senator Rand Paul walked out of Meeting

(We did not write this article; the original article is HERE).

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“If they don’t seem to care what conservatives think about complete repeal of Obamacare, they’re going to be shocked when they count the votes,” Sen. Rand Paul said. | AP Photo

Republicans have reached a gut check moment: After spending more than six years vowing to fix the flagging patient that is Obamacare, it’s the GOP’s own repeal effort that’s on life support.

Undoing the health care law despised by conservatives seemed to be a straightforward proposition for the party after it won the White House and retained control of both chambers of Congress. Instead, Republicans are sniping over how much of the law to scrap, what to replace it with and when. At this moment, it’s far from a sure thing any plan could get through Congress.

Consider Paul Ryan’s feel-good meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday. The House speaker trekked across the Capitol to reassure senators that lawmakers are making more progress toward repealing the health care law than the media are reporting.

But not everyone was buying it. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) left before it was over, having heard enough of a conversation that he says centers around keeping Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion intact and creating tax credits that he called a “new entitlement program,” though a Republican in the room rebutted the notion that the topic of Medicaid expansion came up in the Tuesday meeting with Ryan.

“I hear things that are unacceptable to me,” Paul said in an interview afterward. “If they don’t seem to care what conservatives think about complete repeal of Obamacare, they’re going to be shocked when they count the votes.”

Ryan’s efforts precede Wednesday’s visit by newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who will attend lunch with Senate Republicans, ostensibly to articulate President Donald Trump’s position. In addition, Republicans are pressing Price to do as much as he can through executive actions to buy them time to come to a consensus this spring.

It may take a direct intervention from Trump to get the party’s warring factions in line.

“It’s hard to see how this gets done unless the president says, ‘OK, let’s do it this way,’” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a key committee chairman on Obamacare.

But it’s been awhile since Republicans have heard something substantive from Trump on Obamacare. When the president last weighed in constructively, he was prompted by Paul’s appearance on a cable news show, during which he railed against efforts to repeal the law without a replacement. Trump called up Paul to offer his support.

At first, Trump’s call to repeal and replace simultaneously disrupted the party — which at the time was intent on repealing now and figuring out the rest later. But eventually, they came around to Trump’s apparent position and stopped sniping for a few weeks. Now that the party is back in disarray, no one is quite sure what Trump wants. They’re straining to read the tea leaves from a president whose latest statements about Obamacare have confused the timeline and offered no clear direction.

“Right now, I would say it’s not that easy to repeal it. I don’t know if it’s a guarantee,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “I don’t know where the White House is. The president has said he’s not going to be kicking people off the program, off the rolls. He’s not going to do that.”

Speaking at the White House alongside Ryan, Trump said simply: “We’re working on Obamacare. It will be very soon.” That did nothing to clear up the ambiguity.

The main dividing line is between centrist-minded lawmakers urging caution and deliberation — Alexander is a leader of that faction — and conservatives demanding action now.

It appeared that the take-it-slow camp was winning out just last weekend. Republicans increasingly gravitated toward an approach that would stuff as many replacement provisions into a repeal bill as possible, taking advantage of a parliamentary tool that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. But that approach takes time — for one, to figure out whether the proposal complies with Senate rules — and the House Freedom Caucus grew antsy.

Now the Freedom Caucus — in tandem with Paul, who’s been meeting with the rowdy band of conservatives regularly — are pushing for another vote on a 2015 repeal bill vetoed by President Barack Obama. That was originally the starting point for Republicans after the election. But now, some Republican senators are wary, because there’s no guarantee it would be replaced with something satisfactory to millions of their constituents.

The divide has put Republican leaders in a serious jam.

“It’s hard,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “If it were just up to me, I’d have the plan tomorrow.”

Ryan tried to offer a soothing message to Senate Republicans on Tuesday. He laid out a timeline that would have the House GOP start the repeal process by the end of February and pass a bill by the end of March, attendees said. Vice President Mike Pence also attended the meeting but said nothing about Obamacare, senators said.

But Ryan’s reassurances only served to paper over real differences of opinion among Republicans. The party has little room to maneuver, with a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate and a bloc of Freedom Caucus members in the House that could, in theory, block the GOP’s repeal efforts.

Still, senior House Republicans believe they have the upper hand, if for no other reason than it will be extremely difficult for any GOP member to oppose Obamacare repeal legislation, even if it’s not entirely to their liking.

“It’s very hard to vote against repeal of Obamacare in any form, no matter who you are or where you are on the Republican spectrum,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

If Republicans took the Paul-Freedom Caucus approach, there’s little chance that senators from states that have expanded Medicaid under Obamacare would go for it. The conservatives’ plan would allow for two-year transition time away from Medicaid. But 20 GOP senators are from expansion states and they want more time and stability for hundreds of thousands of constituents that rely on Medicaid now for insurance.

‘There are certain aspects of a repeal mechanism that are extremely important to me. And that Medicaid expansion piece is one,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

Although Trump could conceivably whip the competing GOP factions into line, some GOP officials privately say they’ve been tuning him out. The president’s shifting public statements sometimes don’t match what aides are saying behind the scenes. Trump has called Ryan to discuss health care on a number of occasions, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has expressed interest in the subject, said several people familiar with the matter.

At one recent meeting, Trump referred questions about Obamacare to Ryan “for the details,” according to a person who was present.

At a recent congressional retreat, Andrew Bremberg, a senior policy adviser in the White House, gave remarks to aides and members. But several people who attended the briefing said it was clear the White House didn’t have most of the specifics figured out.

GOP leaders may be able to arrive at a bill without Trump. But selling it to congressional Republicans and the public requires a microphone that only Trump has. Congress is about to head home to more town halls filled with constituents who are worried about their health care.

“Statements from the White House about it, frankly, would be helpful,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Florida Republican.

Republicans said Price’s word is as good as Trump’s on Obamacare, giving him an important assignment on Wednesday. But when Price addresses Senate Republicans on Wednesday, Paul, for one, won’t be there. He’s scheduled to give a news conference at that time with Freedom Caucus members about his bare-bones Obamacare replacement.