David Schaper

When he addresses a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Trump is expected to outline some of his plans for rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

And he will likely reiterate his commitment to "buy American and hire American," as he repeated often during the campaign and since taking office last month.

But what exactly does that mean for state departments of transportation and the contractors who build transportation projects?

CEOs of major U.S. airlines are scheduled to meet with President Trump on Thursday morning.

The session comes after airlines had to deal with what one CEO called "turmoil" over the president's travel ban.

The focus of the meeting will more likely be on airport infrastructure, the air traffic control system and what the airlines say is unfair foreign competition. Airline pilots and flight attendants are on the same side as their bosses when it comes to foreign competition, and their message should sound familiar to President Trump.

Just how bad is the state of the nation's highway infrastructure? So bad, tires on FedEx trucks last only half as long as they did 20 years ago, as they deteriorate rapidly from crumbling pavement and get more flats from gaping potholes.

"We're using almost 100 percent more tires to produce the same mileage of transportation," FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith told the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday. "Why is that? Because the road infrastructure has so many potholes in it, it's tearing up tires faster than before."

Many travelers were detained in airports after President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily prohibits people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The order caused widespread chaos and confusion at airports as protesters crowded terminals and agencies struggled to interpret the new rules.

Caught in the middle were the airlines, which were not only dealing with passengers denied entry, but with their employees who might violate the travel ban, too.

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There's no question the tragic and intransigent problem of gun violence weighs heavily on Chicago residents, but for some there's resignation as well.

"This is nothing new in Chicago," says Keith Muhammed, while waiting at a bus stop on Chicago's west side.

He's right, but it has been getting worse: More than 760 people were murdered in Chicago in 2016, the highest total in nearly two decades, and this year is shaping up as more of the same.

The incoming Trump administration will look to tap private investment funds to help rebuild and expand the nation's highways, railways, seaports and airports.

That's what Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be transportation secretary, told a panel of senators in a rather friendly confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Beginning in 2017, United Airlines will offer cheaper airfares for budget-conscious travelers.

"Basic economy" will be lower priced than regular fares, allowing United to compete head to head with discount airlines such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant Air.

But there's a trade-off for passengers who will be giving up some of the few remaining perks of air travel, like putting a carry-on suitcase in the overhead bin or getting an assigned seat.

You might not know his name but you undoubtedly know his famous sandwich, and many of us remember singing its ingredients along with a commercial in the 1970s: "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

Michael "Jim" Delligatti, the McDonald's franchisee who created the Big Mac, died Monday. He was 98.

Federal regulators say the nation's railroads are making slow and uneven progress in installing positive train control, technology that could prevent train crashes, and there is growing concern that several railroads may not make the government's deadline for implementing the system.

On a night that the national election results had her discouraged, Seattle resident Anne Johnson had at least one ballot measure to celebrate: ST3, which will raise the local sales tax in the Seattle-Tacoma area to help pump $54 billion into expanding the region's rail and bus systems. It passed by a wide margin.

"That is awesome, and we've put a lot of work into that, and I'm excited for the direction that that will take Seattle," says Johnson, who adds that the transit improvements will help people get to their jobs, to school and will have environmental benefits, too.

If it's true that misery loves company, then the heartbreaking failures of the Chicago Cubs over the last century certainly cemented bonds through generations of fans.

The Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and they haven't won the fall classic since 1908.

That makes this year's success somewhat bittersweet for many fans in Chicago, who remember parents, grandparents, spouses and other loved ones who didn't live long enough to see this day.

Our cars and trucks are being made with more safety features. New technologies such as lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, vehicle stabilizers and anti-lock brakes can, and do, save lives.

Yet more people are dying on the nation's roadways — nearly 18,000 in the first six months of this year. That's a huge jump of 10.4 percent over the same time period in 2015, and it's part of a disturbing trend, according to federal officials, because traffic fatalities rose significantly last year, too.

Many travelers have resigned themselves to paying $25 or more to check a bag when flying. But that fee becomes especially onerous when the bag doesn't show up on the carousel at baggage claim.

The White House is proposing a new rule that would require airlines to refund the checked baggage fee if luggage is "substantially delayed," though it does not define "substantially."

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The U.S. Department of Transportation released a statistic on Wednesday that should surprise no one who flies: In the first six months of the year, nearly 1 in every 5 flights was delayed.

Flights can be delayed for reasons ranging from bad weather to mechanical problems, but airlines know delays are a problem.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's a warm and muggy summer afternoon in Chicago, but that doesn't seem to bother the kids clamoring to ride the Ferris wheel, the Rock-O-Plane and other carnival rides set up in this southwest suburban park.

At the annual Chicago Fraternal Order of Police summer picnic, city cops and their families hauled in coolers and set up grills to enjoy food and bond with brothers and sisters in blue.

But there's something hanging over this picnic: the stress and strain of the job, and the scrutiny that many here say is harsher than ever.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A record number of Americans are dying by accident and increasingly because of fatal overdoses and falls, and not so much in car crashes.

A new report from the National Safety Council shows more than 136,000 people in the U.S. died accidentally in 2014, the highest number ever recorded. That's an increase of 4.2 percent from the year before and 15.5 percent more than a decade ago.

The higher accidental death rate is being fueled in large part by the opioid and heroin epidemic.

The excruciating wait times at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports the past couple of weeks have travelers fuming and some city officials looking for other options.

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke is calling on the city to do airport security the way it's done in Kansas City, San Francisco and several smaller airports around the country. He wants to hire a private company to staff the screening checkpoints.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration is promising the agency will do a better job of staffing enough officers at airport security checkpoints to reduce long lines. But he says those long lines are likely to continue through the peak summer travel season.

Travelers at some airports have been waiting two to three hours or more to get through screening. As a result, thousands have missed their flights in recent weeks.

The problem has been particularly bad at Chicago's airports.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Illinois lawmakers may soon vote to eliminate the state's statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes.

The move comes in response to the 15-month sentence given last month to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Although Hastert admitted molesting teenage boys he coached decades ago, he could only be sentenced for a financial crime related to his efforts to pay one of his victims millions of dollars in hush money to cover up the crime.

In Chicago, one neighborhood's rat problem is about to get a lot worse.

Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats' worst enemies instead — cats.

Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Chicago is having a bloody year.

Already since January, more than 100 people have been murdered in the city — double the number of homicides in Chicago during the first two months last year. The number of shooting incidents is also up by 120 percent compared to the first nine weeks of 2015.

The spike in violent crime comes at a time when the police in Chicago are under increased scrutiny for misconduct.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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