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Public Roads - July/August 2000

National Transportation Week: Sounding Reveille for Transportation

by Conni Morse

National Transportation Week (NTW) 2000 was celebrated May 14 through 20. NTW is the transportation community’s week to applaud the vital role that transportation plays in the daily life of every American.

Underscoring the importance of transportation in our economy, Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater said that one in seven jobs in the United States is directly linked to transportation. Therefore, NTW is especially significant because it "provides an opportunity to give voice and form to the story of transportation," said Slater.

This year, two major NTW-related events were held for the first time: a panel discussion with Slater and three former secretaries of transportation and a national poster contest for 5th graders.

Panel Discussion

"Transportation in the 21st Century" was the theme of the panel discussion with Slater; the first secretary of transportation, Alan S. Boyd (Johnson Administration); William T. Coleman (Ford Administration); and Samuel K. Skinner (Bush Administration).

Approximately 300 people attended this discussion May 15 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This was the first event to ever bring together several former transportation secretaries, and Slater expressed his hope that it would become an annual gathering.

Slater discussed the 2025 visioning sessions he is conducting throughout the country. The purpose of these sessions is to look 25 years into the future and discuss potential issues and opportunities facing transportation and transportation decision-making.

Boyd presented the highlights of his administration, and he called for more emphasis on public transportation in urban areas and for more money to be allocated for collecting and analyzing statistical data, an important aspect in determining how transportation systems are operated.

"Transportation is the most pervasive activity in anyone’s life," said Coleman. "It’s something we can’t live without, but we take it totally for granted." He pointed out the need to address overcrowded airports and the need for a more efficient rail system, specifically in cities with more than 1 million people.

Skinner challenged the transportation industry to lead in laying the foundation for opening global markets, to continue to work together, and to recruit the very best.

Poster Contest

The purpose of the poster contest was to encourage youngsters throughout the nation to think about the influence of transportation on their lives. Fifth graders at schools participating in the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program were invited to enter the contest. The Morgan Program aims to inspire students from kindergarten to college to consider careers in transportation

"Education is a long-term investment, and we need to start early educating our youth about transportation," said Joe Toole, director of professional development for the Federal Highway Administration and chair of the NTW Poster Committee. "There are tremendous opportunities for showing today’s youth not only the challenges in transportation but [also] the excitement of working on something that is so critical to our nation."

And NTW co-chair and former secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation David Winstead noted, "Every industry in transportation is in short supply of talent."

This first annual NTW poster contest attracted 123 entries, and the winning entry was created by Philippe Halbert, a 12-year-old student from Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Va. Halbert’s artwork depicts the progression of transportation from the cavemen to space travel.

"It is exciting to blend art with science and technology for our students so they can see the context of it in everyday life," said Carol O’Neil, Halbert’s art teacher.

During the panel discussion and NTW kickoff event, Slater recognized Halbert’s achievement. Halbert received a $200 savings bond from the contest’s corporate sponsor, Energy Absorption Inc., and his art will appear in promotional material for NTW 2001.

Halbert’s school received a $500 check. Also, Halbert was recognized for his achievement in a ceremony at his school. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) spoke at the ceremony.

"Innovative transportation is vital to all Americans, but it will be increasingly vital to young people like Philippe," Moran said. "It is fitting that so many young people participated in this competition. They are the future of the American transportation system."

Second place was awarded to Sara Yeung from Public School (PS) 205 in Brooklyn, N.Y., who received a $100 savings bond and $200 for her school. Her poster showed several modes of transportation and a leg prominently placed in the center.

Third-place winner Hiu-Suen Law from PS 186 in Brooklyn, N.Y., received a $100 savings bond, and $100 was awarded to her school. Her poster showed a woman in an airplane window, and the airplane was superimposed on a map of the world.

The awards presentation and the panel discussion were vidoetaped and are available at The panel discussion was sponsored by the Equipment Manufacturers Institute (EMI).

Creating a Vision for NTW

This year’s efforts "represent significant steps in growing the NTW program, especially with the panel discussion and poster contest," said NTW committee member Linda Lindsay. Lindsay is the manager of Congressional and State Relations for the 60,000-member National Society of Professional Engineers. As a three-year veteran of the NTW organizing committee, Lindsay has seen substantial growth in the participation of partnering organizations, which now number about 30.

Stephen D. Van Beek, associate deputy secretary of transportation and co-chair of NTW, noted how the panel discussion was an allegory of the NTW vision.

"We had the privilege of hearing from four visionaries who have charted the course of transportation over the past 30 years. It’s most appropriate that these same leaders came together with Secretary Slater to apply their experience and look yet another 25 years into the future. This sharing of ideas is at the core of National Transportation Week, which strives to bring focus on not just what we’ve achieved but on what we can be."

Some other highlights of NTW included the attendance of President Clinton at the Joint Services Open House at Andrews Air Force Base; the president’s remarks at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation; a presidential proclamation designating May 14 through 20 as National Transportation Week; the Design for Transportation National Awards at the National Academy of Sciences; and an exhibit of historical, transportation-related paintings by artist and former Bureau of Public Roads employee Carl Rakeman. Also, this year, a toll-free telephone number — (877) 558-6874 — for NTW was started, and the Web site — — was improved.

Plans for NTW 2001

Each year, NTW has grown, and plans for NTW 2001 promise to bring even more focus to transportation. Some ideas already being considered include:

  • Developing more field outreach programs by involving state and local chapters of modal organizations. To support this, the NTW "toolkit" is being revised and expanded to be a resource guide to anyone who wants to become involved.
  • Expanding school outreach programs by tripling the number of schools involved in the poster contest.
  • Creating a board of directors, which would encourage even greater involvement and sponsorship by public and private organizations.

If your organization or state would like to organize an NTW 2001 event, now is the time to start. For more information, call toll free (877) 558-6874.

Conni Morse is a marketing specialist working in FHWA’s Office of Professional Development. She is employed by Avalon Integrated Services Corp. of Arlington, Va.