I’m pretty excited about the productive week we've had here at DOT, and I'd like to share that sense of achievement and --more importantly-- promise with Fast Lane readers.
On Monday, we jumped out of the gate by sending a revamped GROW AMERICA Act to Congress. GROW is our legislative proposal for surface transportation that provides six years of funding certainty, increased investment in infrastructure, and smart policies that ensure taxpayers get more bang for their buck and that communities can enjoy the benefits of projects sooner. Experts all agree that America's transportation system needs more than a few potholes filled and bridges repaired. But we also need to start getting ahead of the curve like the world leader we have been since George Washington began supervising construction of a canal along the Potomac River. And GROW will help us do that.
In fact, all of this week's highlights point back to the GROW AMERICA Act...
Many of you might have watched last night's 60 Minutes segment, "Falling Apart: America's Neglected Infrastructure." I was glad to see CBS give this critical situation its due in primetime.
As Fast Lane readers know, this is an issue I’ve been talking about almost every day since taking office. I’ve been to 41 states, sounding the alarm that our infrastructure is crumbling and that we need Congress to step up and help us rebuild it. I’ve also put forward a plan –the GROW AMERICA Act– that would give Congress a roadmap to do exactly that...and help us maintain our transportation system for generations to come.
Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to share our sense of urgency, which prompted my predecessor, Secretary Ray LaHood, to suggest on 60 Minutes last night that Congress needs to have the political courage to solve this problem.
For five and half years, one of the best parts of my job has been meeting with mayors and people at the local level working hard to get things done. To leaders like the National League of Cities members I met with this week, transportation comes down to improving quality of life.
I used to be a mayor myself. I served in Riverdale, Illinois, the first outer-ring suburb on the southern edge of Chicago.
Riverdale is a railroad town. It has two major rail yards, five railroads that run through it, and two commuter rail stations. So I understand how community leaders are eager to have safe, reliable, efficient rail connections but also the necessary tools to address challenges like blocked crossings or train horn noise. Above all, they want to know that their communities are safe –and so do we...
Remember when the Highway Trust Fund was running out of money, and state departments of transportation warned they’d have to cancel projects? That was a dark hour for America. But some thought that when Congress passed a ten-month funding patch in August, the worst was over.
It wasn’t over. Not even close.
The Tennessee DOT is delaying $400 million in road projects. It turns out, the patch Congress passed didn’t end the uncertainty over transportation funding; it perpetuated it. As TDOT Commissioner John Shroer wrote in a letter to state legislators last Friday, "The instability in the flow of these dollars is certainly having an impact in Tennessee."
At USDOT, we knew this would happen. We said this would happen.
And now we’re seeing the terrible – and very predictable – outcome.
We all know the “road to prosperity” is a metaphor, but what if it were an actual road?
The fact is, investing in transportation creates value, and that means it’s a worthwhile investment—for public funds, yes, but also for the private sector. So, with public investments in our nation’s important transportation assets steadily declining, we need to find better ways to partner with private investors to help rebuild America...
Yesterday at the invitation of U.S. Representative Frank LoBiondo --Chair of the House T&I Aviation Subcommittee-- U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Chairman LoBiondo, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and I had the pleasure of visiting our Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey. This was my first visit to the tech center, and I was really excited to meet with employees --there are 3,000-- and see the great work they do.
My only regret is that I wasn’t able to bring my 9-year-old daughter with me. Hilary, as you may recall from when I laid out my priorities earlier this year, has some big ideas about the future of American aviation. And I’m sure she’d love it at the Hughes Center because our employees there have always dreamed big.
Today, the hard work of turning big dreams into effective modernization focuses on continuing to develop our NextGen technology, the future of aviation...
The good news is that Congress has avoided bankrupting the Highway Trust Fund. The bad news is that there is still no long-term certainty, and this latest band-aid expires right as the next construction season begins.
It is encouraging that the Senate voted earlier this week to act on a long-term transportation bill this year, and I hope that they will continue working toward that goal. While Congress may be able to wait until May, the country cannot. Americans deserve a multi-year transportation bill that provides the certainty that businesses and communities deserve, creates jobs, and makes necessary policy updates to lay the foundation for lasting economic growth.
To that end, I will be convening a nationwide virtual town hall on transportation in August to bring together business leaders, transportation advocates, state and local government officials, and everyday Americans who are concerned with the future of America’s transportation infrastructure. Together, we will keep working for a long-term solution by engaging people throughout America to prompt Congress to act.
Click here for the full text of Secretary Foxx's remarks at the National Press Club on which this blog post is based.
Almost since my first day as Secretary of Transportation, I have been ringing the alarm bell about the looming insolvency of the highway trust fund --the federal source that helps pay for our nation's highways and transit.
Last week--after weeks and weeks of alarm, an online Highway Trust Fund ticker we've updated every month, an April bus tour, meetings with dozens of governors and mayors and stakeholders, and a lot of my own shoe leather on Capitol Hill-- the U.S. House passed a measure to avert the crisis with a ten-month patch. Later this week, the Senate is expected to take up a similar measure.
But let's not kid ourselves: this is a short-term patch, and if it passes, it's hard not to imagine that Congress will simply hit the snooze button on this issue the next time it rolls around.
Most of the time, when people think about transportation, they think of our nation’s roads and bridges, or maybe our airports, railroad tracks or transit lines. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that makes all of those forms of transportation, along with many others, more safe and efficient. Yesterday, I had a chance to see some of that work firsthand, when I joined President Obama in visiting DOT’s Turner Fairbank Research Center. During our visit, we were able to see some of the innovative technologies DOT engineers are working on that will make important improvements in how Americans drive in the future.
For example, the President got to do a little driving in a simulator that features vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. This technology will eventually help stop crashes before they happen and make it easier for us to avoid traffic jams.
He and I agree that's the kind of transportation progress we like to see...
President Barack Obama prepares to drive a vehicle simulator during a tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
At a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx talked about agency funding, safety, and challenges from his first year as Secretary. Topics included the solvency of the highway trust fund, the consumer use of drones, and recent General Motors vehicle recalls.
Click the image below to watch a rebroadcast of the July 1, 2014, event on C-Span