Secretary Anthony Foxx
The Port of Houston
Houston, TX • November 18, 2013
Thank you, everyone. It’s great to be here in Houston – and you may not know it, but we’re actually here at something of a historic moment.
Ninety-nine years ago this month, Houston opened its docks for the first time as a deep water port.
There was a big celebration here in Texas. Everyone was excited because they knew that the new port meant new channels of commerce – and new commerce meant new jobs.
Even in Washington, President Woodrow Wilson celebrated. He interrupted his cabinet meeting to press a remote control, which fired off a cannon here on the Turning Basin.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any cannons to mark the occasion today. But then again, today, there’s nothing remote about the federal government’s excitement for this port.
Vice President Biden is here.
Mr. Vice President, it’s always fantastic to be your travel partner.
Over the past several months, the Vice President and I have visited ports across the country, from Baltimore to Savannah to Charleston.
We’ve visited because all of us – the President, the Vice President, and everyone at the Department of Transportation – recognize something. And it’s the same thing people in Houston were celebrating 99 years ago:
Ports are crucial.
They’re crucial for our economy. American businesses depend on safe, affordable transportation for their goods – especially when it comes to shipping.
After all, 75 percent of our nation’s exports travel through ports. Port activity across the country accounts for more than $3 trillion in business activity. And it supports over 13 million jobs, which is about one out of every ten jobs in America.
So it’s no surprise that President Obama and Vice President Biden have made it priority to repair and improve arteries of trade like this one.
At DoT, we’re proud to support that effort. Through our TIGER program, we’ve directed $417 million to projects at 33 ports across the United States.
But this marks just the beginning what we can do – and what we will do.
Because we know more must be done.
Studies show that, by 2050, America’s freight network will need to haul 4 billion more tons of international freight than it currently does.
Imagine an armada of freighters carrying 40,000 Washington Monuments to American shores: that’s about the equivalent of 4 billion tons. And we have to make sure our ports are equipped to handle that much freight.
I’m committed to ensuring they are.
The President is committed to it.
And so is the man standing next to me. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce Vice President Biden.