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Throwback Thursday: We can only GROW if we work together

Almost exactly a year ago, Transportation Secretary Foxx addressed the National League of Cities. He then turned to the Fast Lane to blog about what it means to city leaders that drivers in their cities spend an average of 42 hours a year stuck in traffic and how an increasing population is only going to make matters worse unless we invest in infrastructure solutions.

For today's installment of Throwback Thursday, we re-publish the Secretary's blog post and remind readers that, for more than a year, he and President Obama have proposed concrete solutions --through GROW AMERICA, our four-year, $302 bllion legislative proposal-- and advocated tirelessly for revitalized American transportation and the jobs and economic growth that reviatlization would bring.

With a newly elected Congress heading toward Washington, we also re-publish in this post the Secretary's advice that, "It is only when we work together that we can go from gridlock to open road, open harbors, and open skies."

date widgetWorking together, investing in American transportation

Yesterday, I addressed the members of the National League of Cities, and it was a pleasure to be among leaders who understand the value of investing in America's transportation. Because League members know that, last year, drivers in this country's cities spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic. That's more than a full-time week of work.

Photo of a congested suburban road

Jacksonville gets to work on innovative First Coast Flyer bus rapid transit system

In Jacksonville, Florida –one of our cities hardest hit by the recession– the jobs are beginning to come back, and so are the people to fill them. From 2012 to 2013, the metro area’s population grew at a rate that was nearly twice the national average.

Now, while this is good news, it also presents a challenge: How do you move an increasingly larger population around a city with a limited number of streets?

Today in Jacksonville, drivers are experiencing more and more traffic congestion. The more than 40,000 people who ride the region's buses are experiencing their share of delays, too.  And for some transit-dependent folks, good connections to the jobs downtown just aren’t available.

Even in the best of times, solving a challenge like this is difficult. But as things stand now in the world of transportation funding, it's even harder...

Photo of First Coast Flyer prototype vehicle

America’s Ports Need a National Freight Funding Strategy to Deliver Prosperity

U.S global competitiveness depends on America’s seaports. As President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Foxx take the necessary steps to designate, invest in and build a long overdue national freight network, our nation’s seaports must play a critical role.

Ports are the gateways to our regional and national economies. Last year alone, 1.26 billion metric tons of international cargo, worth about $1.75 trillion, moved through America’s seaports, together with about 800 million metric tons of domestic cargo. Our port-related infrastructure connects American farmers, manufacturers and consumers to the world marketplace and are facilitating the increase of American exports that are essential to our sustained economic growth.

In total, that port activity is responsible for more than 13 million jobs and over $200 million in federal, state and local revenue. Efficient freight movement is a crucial component of every state economy, and to the pocketbooks of every American...

Photo of containership and port

Good weekend for California transit riders

This past weekend --with a grant agreement in Oakland on Saturday and a groundbreaking in Los Angeles a day earlier-- California's transit riders enjoyed an opportunity to see two stages in the life-cycle of public transportation projects. Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan helped celebrate both occasions, an apt demonstration of how our FTA supports good transit options from planning to construction.

Photo of Purple Line extension groundbreaking

On Friday, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) broke ground on Section 1 of its Westside Purple Line extension, the first of three planned extensions for the subway line. The Section 1 extension is expected to improve capacity and travel times from Beverly Hills to downtown Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Union Station, and other communities. The extension will improve travel through one of the region's most congested areas and give more people access to jobs, schools, and other services. The project includes three new underground stations and the purchase of 34 new vehicles, stimulating an American supply chain that extends far beyond California. In addition, LACMTA estimates that construction will create more than 22,000 jobs.

A few hundred miles north, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) is planning to add a dedicated bus line between Oakland and San Leandro. And on Saturday, Acting Administrator McMillan signed a grant agreement to help move the 9.5-mile East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project from plan to reality. The proposed BRT line will have a dedicated travel lane for buses, level boarding, pre-payment kiosks, and improved safety features. Most importantly, it will speed up travel times for an estimated 125,000 people each day...

GROWing U.S. Contributions to the Global Supply Chain

If you’re like most people, the global supply chain isn’t exactly must-see TV. You’ve heard about it, and you know it plays a role in your life, but it’s kind of abstract. So let’s talk about something you can feel: that smartphone in your pocket or purse.

It’s safe to say that most of us have smartphones, but we don’t often consider the logistics that go into their creation.

The phone I carry was designed in Canada and manufactured in China. It contains glass from the Dow Corning Plant in my home state of Kentucky, software written in South Carolina, a processor from South Korea, a semiconductor from Germany, flash memory from Japan, and rare earth elements from India, Brazil and South Africa.

Cruising across oceans in containerships and crossing countries and borders in trucks and trains, the world’s raw materials head to factories, and finished goods head to stores –and eventually into consumers’ hands. It is a complex system that makes this possible.

Photo of laden container ship

And America’s transportation infrastructure is our ticket into this system...

Eastern North Carolina powering American transportation

Eastern North Carolina struggles with persistent poverty.  The region was hit hard by the recession.

But what I saw during my visits with Congressman G.K. Butterfield to the towns of Kinston and Mount Olive really impressed me.  Eastern North Carolina is bouncing back.  And they’re doing it by rebuilding their economy around transportation.

Federal investments in passenger rail and transit are benefiting the region. In fact, in other cities like Los Angeles and Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh, passengers are riding trains that, in a sense, are powered by Mount Olive company, IMPulse...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at ImPulse
Photo courtesy U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield!

Investing in transit is investing in communities

“Get loud.”

That was my message to the hundreds of transit stakeholders gathered in Houston yesterday for the American Public Transit Association’s Triennial EXPO.

For years, particularly over the past year, many of us have watched our buses and subway platforms grow crowded –and our backlog for transit repairs grow larger. That backlog now stands at $86 billion, more than the federal government spends on all forms of transportation every year...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at APTA meeting
Secretary Foxx (right) with APTA Chair Phillip Washington (left) and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

Turn up the volume in support of jobs, economic strength, transportation

Fast Lane readers know that yesterday I took the Department's message to the people. And not just a handful of people either --our virtual town hall discussion reached thousands of participants from coast to coast, even as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam.

Heat map depicting relative volume of town hall participants by zip code
Heat map depicting relative volume of town hall participants by zip code

While I certainly appreciated the opportunity to make the case for a long-term transportation bill that truly funds our nation's needs and provides states, counties, and cities the certainty they need to plan for their future, I was even more grateful to see the steady stream of more than 300 questions pouring in from the town hall website, email, and Twitter. That tells me that Americans are engaged in this issue, an issue that touches their everyday lives, their families, their jobs, and their businesses.

So, now what? Well, now we do the heavy lifting. Now we get a little noisier...

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