New Volpe Center Leads as Technology Reshapes Transportation

October 31, 2019Boston Herald | By Elaine Chao

Wednesday, I joined state and local leaders from Massachusetts to break ground on the construction of the new U.S. Department of Transportation John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge.

Volpe’s world-class research isn’t new to Cambridge. In fact, Volpe’s been a good neighbor for almost 50 years. This new state-of-the-art facility will mark the next chapter in Volpe’s rich legacy of providing research and analysis of America’s future transportation needs.

Creativity and innovation are part of the great genius of America — one of its hallmarks. This administration is working hard to remove unnecessary, over-burdensome government barriers that hamper innovation in order to help unleash the next generation of technological breakthroughs that will transform our lives and country.

Nowhere has that spirit of transformative innovation been more evident than our transportation sector. We are in a historic period of technological change. Innovators are developing safer, faster and smarter solutions to move people and products.

Autonomous vehicles, for example, have the potential to increase mobility for many underserved populations, including older Americans and people with disabilities. Drones are already proving immensely valuable in public and private sector applications and have tremendous potential to do much more. All modes of transportation — including roads, rail, maritime, aviation and now commercial space — are benefiting from technological advances.

These new innovations promise to increase mobility and safety, boost economic growth and improve quality of life. Change, however, brings a lot of uncertainty. That’s why the work of Volpe is so important. It helps provide research that contributes to the safe integration of advanced technologies into our nation’s transportation systems. And it can help educate the public about the benefits of new technologies, which is critical for the public acceptance that is needed for these technologies to reach their full potential.

Volpe is a unique, fee-for-service agency that partners with public and private organizations to assess the nation’s transportation needs, deploy cutting-edge transportation technologies and inform decision and policy making through comprehensive analyses. For nearly 50 years, the Volpe Center’s partnerships have led to innovative solutions that advance national and global transportation systems for the public good. Volpe Center staff collaborate on over 300 projects each year that cut across traditional transportation modes and disciplines.

In 1990, the center was named after former Massachusetts governor and the second U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe. I was pleased to attend that ceremony as Deputy Secretary of Transportation. Now, as Secretary of Transportation I am delighted to have the opportunity to help launch the groundbreaking of this new facility, which will accelerate the pace of the great work Volpe is doing.
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