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Last Friday afternoon, our GROW AMERICA Express bus tour pulled into Washington, DC's, Union Station after a 1,100-mile journey through five states. We had gone on the road four days earlier for one reason: to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.

In Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and DC, I saw great examples of the kind of investment in transportation infrastructure that can help communities grow, help businesses compete, and help people get more safely and reliably to jobs and other opportunities.

We also visited places where strong projects that would achieve those same goals were stuck perpetually on the launch pad.

Secretary Foxx amid crowd of stakeholders at DC's Union Station
Many thanks to everyone who turned out to welcome us back to DC!
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This morning, the GROW AMERICA Express pulled into Virginia’s Richmond International Airport, where we made two big safety announcements. These steps forward on safety highlight the ways that government, consumer advocates, and businesses can work together.

At the airport, I was joined by Mark Rosekind, the Administrator of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by safety advocate Rosemary Shahan, and by representatives of the rental car industry to talk about how we can keep vehicles with safety defects off our highways.

As Fast Lane readers know, industry and safety advocates don't always agree, but these folks have come together on a common-sense proposition: rental car agencies should not be able to rent a vehicle that is under a safety recall until any safety defects have been repaired...

Secretary Foxx at Richmond International Airport

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This afternoon I visited Durham, North Carolina, where I got an up-close view of the powerful effect that transportation investment can have on people’s lives.

While planning progresses on the rail line, the downtown Durham area is already undergoing a renaissance. New businesses are sprouting up; existing businesses are moving to the area; and new restaurants are opening. This is all well in advance of the light rail line’s opening, projected to be in 2026.

Getting to opening day, however, will take continued financial support. Durham and Chapel Hill as well as countless other communities across the country need to be able to commit to multi-year transportation projects, but they need federal funding in addition to local funding commitments to do that...

Secretary Foxx speaking in Durham

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When you're making the case for stable investment in American passenger rail, it helps to have with you the nation's greatest champion for passenger rail --Vice President Joe Biden.

The Vice President and I have been traveling up the East Coast this week as part of the GROW AMERICA Express to focus America’s attention on our infrastructure, and to remind the American people that we are at a crucial crossroads. And as we consider our options for moving forward, Vice President Biden knows well that passenger rail is an important piece of the transportation puzzle...

Vice President Biden and Secretary Foxx talk infrastructure outside in front of a train
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North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure is one of our state’s most important assets, touching every North Carolina citizen in one way or another through its impact on safety, quality of life, economic development, and daily commerce. That network gets kids to school, employees to work, groceries to shelves, and more. It is crucial to North Carolina.

North Carolina is attracting people at one of the fastest rates of any state across the country. With the growing population, it will be critical to provide a 21st Century network of roads, highways, and bridges that can accommodate the mobility demands of our citizens.

However, North Carolina is heading towards a transportation crisis with declining sustainability, growing population, aging roads and bridges, and well-documented transportation needs. And the problem won’t get any better or go away as we add 3 million residents over the next 15 years...

Downtown Charlotte birds-eye view

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Owen Steel in Columbia, SC, is a great success story. For nearly 80 years, every time a city has made a choice about their future –and decided to build a bridge or an office building or a hospital– Owen Steel has rolled out steel fabrications to help build those structures. This company has produced some of the largest steel towers in the US and has had a hand in some of our greatest infrastructure. For example, 1,500 tons of Owen steel holds up the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island.

But a few miles away, where I-26 and I-20 meet, we saw a highway where a massive infrastructure project ought to be--but isn't. Known locally as “Malfunction Junction,” this intersection poses a constant bottleneck to motorists and truck drivers.

Reworking “Malfunction Junction” is one of South Carolina’s top transportation improvement projects; it would reduce the traffic jams that slow freight movement and frustrate thousands of drivers each day. Unfortunately, that solution is years away from starting for a pretty simple reason: inadequate funding...

Photo of Owen Steel workers

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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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