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Senate Commerce Committee to hold hearing on DOT Secretary nomination

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 17, 2013

On Wednesday, May 22, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the recently announced nomination of Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation.

President Barack Obama nominated Foxx to be DOT chief on April 29.

When Obama selected Foxx, he stated that since Foxx took office as Mayor of Charlotte in 2009, he has helped to turn around the city at a time when both the city and the country were going through very challenging economic times.

“The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity,” he said. “And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history.”

Prior to the nomination of Foxx being made official, a White House official was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that “[a]s mayor of one of America’s most vibrant cities, Anthony Foxx knows firsthand that investing in world-class infrastructure is vital to creating good jobs and ensuring American businesses can grow and compete in the global economy.”

As Mayor of Charlotte, the report noted that Foxx has been very active on the transportation front for both passenger and freight modes.

One of his major efforts, according to the Post, was the Charlotte Streetcar Project, an electric trolley system, as well as the expansion of its LYNX light-rail system. And on the freight transportation side, the report noted that Charlotte, under Foxx’ watch, developed a 200-acre facility in conjunction with Class I railroad carrier Norfolk Southern connecting freight from Charlotte to global ports and the city also added a third parallel runway at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

Foxx was elected as Mayor of Charlotte in 2009 and re-elected in 2011, said the report.
A noted transportation infrastructure expert told LM that Foxx appears to be the right man for the job.

“I don’t know him directly, but I am impressed by his commitment to the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility and the fact that he seems to appreciate the importance of addressing freight needs,” said Leslie Blakey, executive director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors. “The Charlotte project is a truly innovative approach, interconnecting rail, road and air to increase freight mobility.”

Should this move become official, it stands to reason Foxx will have a full plate as DOT Secretary. He will have to work with Congress in crafting a long-term transportation bill and faces other challenges regarding government regulations impacting motor carrier operations like HOS and CSA and on the railroads, too, regarding Positive Train Control, among others.

During his term as DOT Secretary, his potential predecessor LaHood was very active on
the transportation infrastructure and freight fronts. Among some of the significant infrastructure- and freight-related advances under his watch and were:
-the $48 billion allocated towards transportation funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009;
-more than $2.7 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants to 130 national transportation projects;
-significant investments into U.S. ports;
-FAA reauthorization; and
-securing funding in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to help states build and repair roads, bridges, and transit systems

LaHood also championed the DOT’s Distracted Driving Initiative, focusing on reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. And under his watch DOT also rolled out the first of its kind national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses, as well as CSA, which stands for “Compliance, Safety, Accountability,” which was designed to weed out as many as 5 percent—of 150,000 of the nation’s 3 million or so long-haul truck drivers that the federal government believes are involved in an disproportionately high number of truck accidents and fatalities.

And last August he rolled out an effort focused on national domestic freight initiatives entitled the Freight Policy Council, whose objective is to focus on improving the condition and performance of the national freight network to better ensure the ability of the U.S. to compete in the global economy. The Freight Policy Council will develop a national intermodal plan for improving the efficiency of freight movement and also work with states to encourage development of a forward-looking state freight strategy.

“We congratulate Mayor Foxx on his nomination and look forward to continuing our efforts with the department to improve the nation’s transportation system,” said Janet Kavinoky, executive director of Transportation and Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Now more than ever it is absolutely necessary to plan, prioritize, and invest in infrastructure so it supports jobs, and economic competitiveness and growth. The Chamber urges the White House to provide the new secretary and the department of transportation the ability to tackle the imminent funding challenges for highways and transit, implement MAP-21’s reforms, focus on a freight strategy for the future, accelerate modernization of air traffic control, and manage regulatory issues such as safety in a way that saves lives and allows businesses to thrive.”

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves said that the ATA looks forward to working with Foxx when he is officially confirmed for the position by the Senate.

“As mayor of a large city, Mayor Foxx dealt with very similar challenges with regard to transportation issues that I did when I was governor – chiefly responding to the demands of constituents and developing a multimodal transportation network,” Graves said in a statement. “As someone who can appreciate how hard it can be to actually do that, I wish Mayor Foxx luck and I look forward to working with him to ensure that Americans have the first-rate, world-class transportation system they deserve.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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More talking remains before the deal is done

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