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It's a great privilege to have Vice President Biden join me on the GROW AMERICA Express today and tomorrow. Together, we'll try to focus America’s attention on our infrastructure and remind the American people that the future is a choice.

And few communities understand that better than our first stop this morning, the Port of Charleston, South Carolina. Because Charleston has already decided what future they want to have when it comes to transportation...


VP Biden at Port of Charleston
Vice President Biden at the Port of Charleston. Photo courtesy Bill Burr (@BBonTV)
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This afternoon, Secretary Foxx closed out Day One of the GROW AMERICA Express bus tour with a visit to Savannah, Georgia's Brampton Road Connector project. When completed, the Connector will speed the movement of freight into and out of the Port of Savannah via both rail and road. But, as of right now, the project is still in search of funding.

Last year, the port moved record tonnage and --recognizing the increasing demands of the future-- the ports leaders are hard at work expanding its operations.

Unfortunately, without upgrades in nearby transportation infrastructure, the Port's efforts to move more cargo in and out will only confront bottlenecks in the surrounding freight network...

Photo of Secretary Foxx in Savannah

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After leaving Tallahassee this morning, the GROW AMERICA Express went to Jacksonville, Florida where we saw first-hand the work on the I-95 Overland Bridge Replacement Project.  This impressive project is about half-finished, and anyone who sees it can’t help but be enthusiastic about the improvements being made to America’s transportation system. 

For more of these sorts of projects, however, long-term transportation funding is needed. 

Workers are replacing this structurally deficient interstate bridge on a section of I-95 just south of downtown Jacksonville, which should come as good news to the nearly 150,000 drivers who depend on it daily. At $196 million in construction costs alone, the project –which relies on $73 million in federal funding– is considered the largest highway construction effort in northeast Florida’s history.  Originally built in 1959 and reconstructed in 1989, the Overland Bridge epitomizes aging infrastructure, but also of the improvements possible with federal funding...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at I95 Overland Bridge Replacement site
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For every community, long-term investments in transportation have great and far-reaching effects.  Not only are the projects themselves a direct benefit to a region through the jobs they create, the infrastructure they improve, or the new forms of transit they introduce; but they also have secondary effects that aren’t as immediately noticeable to the economic and social vitality of our community.

Tallahassee is a mid-size city that has experienced an incredible amount of growth and revitalization over the last several years. A part of that success has been the conscious investments we have made to our infrastructure that has helped spur new development opportunities and has helped change our thinking of how best to use our land resources. Investments in transportation infrastructure have helped create truly substantive transformations in our City that have driven a resurgence in formally forgotten, dilapidated, or forgotten parts of town.

Photo of Tallahassee street redesign

These investments have also been overwhelmingly supported by our citizens, who in addition to taking advantage of the benefits of the new development and transportation opportunities, recently passed a sales-tax extension referendum partially focused on further developing the infrastructural amenities of our community. The citizens of Tallahassee get how important these resources are for the future vitality of their city in the short and long-term...

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When I took an eight-state bus trip last year from Ohio to Texas, it was great to see that the folks I talked with were able to connect the dots between the federal government’s role and what’s happening in their own home towns. They understood how gridlock in Washington, DC, was creating gridlock on Main Street in their communities. They understood that the infrastructure deficit I spoke about was affecting their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

But as we know from the thousands of questions that poured in for yesterday’s #StuckInTraffic Twitter Town Hall, that infrastructure deficit hasn’t gone away, and it's not going to go away...unless we do something.

So I'm going on the road again next week to highlight the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure, and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill. Our four-day GROW AMERICA Express bus tour will begin Tuesday in Tallahassee and visit five states –Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia– ending at Union Station here in the District of Columbia...

GROW AMERICA logo

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This Wednesday, Secretary Foxx and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster will jointly host a Twitter town hall on reauthorizing U.S. surface transportation; strengthening the Nation's highways, bridges, and transit infrastructure; and the future of transportation in America.

Now, this is not just the first time the U.S. Transportation Secretary and the House T&I Committee Chair will cohost an event like this; it's actually the first time that any sitting Cabinet Secretary and House Committee Chair have cohosted such an event. Ever.

It's no wonder that Washington Post reporter Ashley Halsey wrote, "In an era when Twitter is omnipotent, tweeting a digital meeting harbors far greater significance as a display of rare bipartisan camaraderie in pursuit of a common goal."

Construction photo of Mackinac Bridge
Secretary Foxx and Chairman Shuster building a bridge of their own?
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Earlier today, I went to Capitol Hill to speak with the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. Now, as Fast Lane readers know, we're in a new year, with a new Congress. But I went to the Senate to discuss an old issue: America's need for better transportation.

Specifically, as Senators and House members from both sides of the aisle have said, our country needs a multiyear transportation bill with funding growth and policy reforms focused on our nation’s future.

America is in a race. Not just against our global competitors, but against time and against the high standards of innovation and progress our nation has upheld for generations. You don't need to read the data from transportation experts to know that we're slipping behind in that race. You can look around --at our road congestion, at the tens of thousands of bridges that need to be replaced or upgraded, at our cities' legacy transit systems. And when you are behind, you must do more than just keep pace; you must run faster...

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Those who read Friday's Fast Lane post will recall my challenge to America's mayors to help us help them raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety.  I went back to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting the very next day to secure more support from our mayors --this time for our long-term transportation bill, the GROW AMERICA Act

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Last July, President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, an Administration-wide effort aimed at boosting private investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  And on Friday, Vice President Biden announced new steps that federal agencies are taking to bring private sector capital and expertise to bear on improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband networks. 

You can read more about Friday’s announcement here.  These actions and announcements are the first steps that the Administration is taking as part of the Build America Investment Initiative’s two-year action plan.

These steps highlight important progress within DOT. When the President announced this initiative last July, he also called on this Department to launch the Build America Transportation Investment Center.  And over the past six months, DOT, the Department of Treasury, and more than a dozen other federal agencies have worked to stand up this crucial team, which serves as a one-stop shop for investors seeking innovative financing strategies for infrastructure projects. The Center focuses on facilitating access to USDOT credit programs and helping project sponsors improve project development and delivery. After all, the more projects can move toward completion, the better we can address the Nation’s growing infrastructure deficit...

Photo of highway bridge construction work

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Transportation access and quality are both important measures of the regional “connectedness” that is central to growth and prosperity. Reliable and affordable transportation is an essential ingredient for strong families and equitable, resilient regions.

Achieving equitable growth depends on having nuanced information about who needs to be connected to opportunity throughout a region.   Compelling data revealing who benefits from growth and who pays can help garner support for good, inclusive policy proposals.  Data is ubiquitous, but the right data —broken down by race, ethnicity, and geography— is hard to find.

That task has become a bit easier with the creation of the National Equity Atlas, a dynamic, comprehensive online resource. Produced by PolicyLink and PERE (Program for Environmental and Regional Equity), the Atlas makes it possible to track, measure, and make the case for inclusive growth in America’s regions and states, and nationwide...

Photo of city transit bus

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