transportation

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An initial draft of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's (DEEP) updated ten-year action plan to protect wildlife, released last week, includes plans to look closely at wildlife road mortality, especially that of amphibians and reptiles. 

Authorities on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean have found debris that may be from a missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

A source familiar with the investigation tells NPR's Geoff Brumfiel that the debris appears to have come from a large passenger aircraft, but it remains unclear whether it's from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished from radar on March 8, 2014.

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Gov. Dannel Malloy has received the endorsement of the state’s Bond Commission for the first wave of projects in his new transportation initiative. The $24.9 million funding package includes money for both road and public transit projects.

More than 1 million people die in traffic deaths around the world each year — that's drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians combined.

It's a problem in the United States: There are 11.4 deaths a year per 100,000 population. It's a problem in low-income countries like Zambia, where the comparable figure is 23.8 deaths. And it's a huge problem in the middle-income world. The Dominican Republic records 41.7 deaths per 100,000, and was ranked in 2013 as the most dangerous country in the world for drivers.

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It may be 2,500 miles from Connecticut to Southern California, but a highway problem there can still cause repercussions locally. 

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This month brings a few changes to bicycling laws in Connecticut, which will impact both cyclists and drivers. 

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New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and city transportation officials have announced the next phase of GoNewHavenGo, an initiative to encourage Elm City residents to use alternative forms of transportation. 

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Governor Dannel Malloy said he's in active conversations with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Amtrak about the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line scheduled to begin operation in late 2016.

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Longer tractor trailers could soon be coming to highways in Connecticut. The bill, which has passed out of the U.S. House, would allow truckers to use double-trailers that are each 33 feet long. Right now, the feds cap these twin-trailers at 28 feet a piece. 

Metropolitan Transit Authority

Mechanical problems have left a Connecticut span of a 111-year-old bridge stuck in the open position, delaying Metro-North trains to and from New York City.

What officials said is the final piece of funding for a major transportation project in western Massachusetts was announced today in Springfield.

Massachusetts is committing the remaining funds needed to complete the redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield into an intermodal regional transportation hub. It brings the total amount of federal, state, and local funds for the project to $88.5 million.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut’s dangerous, winding roads usually restrict Nutmeggers to their cars when they’re getting around rural parts of the state. So, when it comes to the carless -- the elderly, the disabled, and the poor -- how are they able to get where they need to go? 

The federal government's new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.

The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren't strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.

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The state legislature left some work to do after the regular session ended, but it did change the way the car tax is applied across the state. 

Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, panelists broke down the way the state budget would affect the tax and how complex it appears to be.

The engineer at the controls of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia last month was not using his cellphone during the time he was operating train No. 188.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday released a long-awaited analysis of cellphone records to determine whether the engineer was distracted at the time of the May 12 accident. Eight people died and some 200 others were injured in the derailment.

The NTSB states:

The opening date for the MGM Springfield casino may be pushed back by as much as a year

Springfield city officials Tuesday disclosed that MGM is seeking to coordinate the opening of the casino with the completion of the reconstruction of I-91.  The highway project is not expected to wrap up until 2018, a year after the projected opening date for what would be the state’s first resort casino.

An MGM spokesperson said the company planned to discuss the project timetable with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission at a June 25th meeting.

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CTfastrak will expand to East Hartford and Manchester by the summer of 2016. The bus rapid transit system currently runs along a 9.4-mile bus only route between New Britain and Hartford, and Governor Dannel Malloy announced Monday that the state's new two-year budget includes funding to expand CTfastrak east of the Connecticut River.

CT-N

State Senate Democrats are recapping the 2015 legislative session during a press conference in Senate President Martin Looney's office.

Many investigators say Positive Train Control (PTC), an automated safety system, could have prevented last month's Amtrak train derailment. Amtrak officials have said they will have PTC installed throughout the northeast corridor by the end of this year, which is the deadline mandated by Congress.

But the vast majority of other commuter railroad systems, which provided nearly 500 million rides in 2014, won't be able to fully implement positive train control for several more years.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

When Alice Shea decided to start biking to work, it wasn’t easy at first. The ride from her house in East Windsor to her job at Travelers Insurance in Hartford was about 17 miles, and at the time, she wasn’t an active cyclist. 

Shea thought that taking a local bus line part of the way until she built up her stamina would be the easiest solution. There was only one complication: in 2006, there was no place for Shea to put her bike on the bus. 

Bruce Fingerhood / Creative Commons

The recent derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in Philadelphia has brought attention across the northeast to safety on the rail lines. A computerized system to slow or stop trains automatically, called Positive Train Control, could help avoid accidents like this in the future.

The challenge of strategizing the best route to work against the herd of other drivers can be as routine as the daily commute itself. A number of apps are out there to help shortcut one's route and evade traffic jams. But which ones are the most accurate? And how?

The All Tech Considered team put a few competing traffic apps to the test in Robert Siegel's usual short commute from Arlington, Va., to NPR's D.C. headquarters.

The Test Drive

This ride is about 15 minutes in no traffic. But it's now morning rush hour.

The Safety of Rail Travel Across the Northeast

May 18, 2015
Mark Llanuza / f

Train ridership is higher in the northeast than anywhere else in the U.S. Last year on Amtrak alone, nearly 12 million people rode the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Despite so much riding on the reliability of trains, government and industries responsible for maintaining the rail system have been slow to make crucial safety improvements.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The CTfastrak busway turned a once-abandoned rail line into a limited-access highway spanning New Britain to Hartford, laying the foundation for a new concept in central Connecticut: rapid transit.

Political and economic aspirations now ride on the busway's success.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday issued a directive to Amtrak aimed at improving safety in the wake of the derailment of a passenger train in Philadelphia this week that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

"We are continuing to work with the [National Transportation Safety Board] to understand exactly what happened on Tuesday so we can prevent this type of devastating accident from ever happening again," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement released Saturday.

National Transportation Safety Board

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on Congress to invest more in the nation's transportation infrastructure, including the implementation of positive train control on most rail lines.

Back-to-back news conferences by Democratic and Republican House leaders, given from the same podium on Thursday, showed a contrast in how both parties are responding to the politics of a deadly train crash that killed at least eight people and injured scores more.

One key safety feature was missing from the stretch of track where an Amtrak passenger train going more than 100 mph derailed and killed seven people.

Investigators say that if positive train control had been installed on that stretch, the technology could have automatically slowed the train and perhaps saved lives.

NPR's David Schaper tells our Newscast unit that Amtrak and other railroads are behind schedule in rolling out the technology.

He filed this report:

The engineer of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that was traveling at 106 mph in a 50-mph zone in Philadelphia applied the full emergency braking system moments before the derailment that claimed seven lives and caused dozens of injuries, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Amtrak was formed in the 1970s out of the ashes of several bankrupt rail lines, including the Penn Central. Its has been criticized for poor service, and shaky finances, but its safety record has been good.

More than 31 million passengers rode Amtrak in fiscal year 2013, the last for which figures are available. In the Northeast Corridor, more than 2,000 trains operate daily on Amtrak's rails, between commuter lines and Amtrak trains. And far more passengers ride Amtrak between Washington, New York and Boston than fly.

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