Transit, bicycle groups see win in Foxx appointment as next DOT secretary

Public transit and bicycle advocates saw victories for their modes of transportation in President Obama's announcement of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's (D) appointment to be the next U.S. Transportation secretary on Monday.

“Mayor Foxx has been a strong advocate for public transportation in Charlotte, and as a local mayor, he understands the critical role public transit plays in the economic vitality of our communities — and the importance of a strong local, state and federal partnership in infrastructure investment,” American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President Michael Melaniphy said in a statement after the announcement.

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APTA Chairwoman Flora Castillo added that Foxx's "record shows that he is a champion of a balanced transportation system, in which public transportation plays a vital role.

“His support for public transportation shows that Mayor Foxx knows that people need access to jobs and public transit offers an important service in helping millions of Americans go to work,” Castillo said.

Foxx has been a vocal supporter of expanding the light rail system in Charlotte, N.C., since taking office in 2009.

The League of American Bicyclists was equally as effusive about Foxx's selection to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday.


"When Secretary LaHood announced his departure, the bicycling community asked the White House to appoint a successor with a clear commitment to multi-modal solutions to local transportation challenges, and Mayor Foxx clearly checks those boxes," LAB President Andy Clarke said in a statement.

"Under [Foxx's] leadership, Charlotte has invested in light rail, a bikeway network, and a bikesharing system; the city's Complete Streets approach to building a transportation system that serves all users is a model for the nation," Clarke continued. "He clearly understands the importance of biking and walking to creating a vibrant and economically successful community where businesses want to locate; where people want to live, raise a family and retire; and where people have a real choice of transportation modes." 

“As mayor of Charlotte, he’s been a thoughtful voice in advocating for development of all modes of transportation in order to help spur the local economy, create jobs and improve mobility,” American Road and Transportation Builders Association President Pete Ruane said in a statement.

Groups that traditionally support road and highway development were slightly more muted in their reactions to Foxx's appointment, taking a more wait-and-see approach to the new Transportation secretary nominee.

"AAA is encouraged by President Obama’s nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation," AAA Auto Club President Bob Darbelnet said. "We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx once confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and we are hopeful that he will help make transportation a top national priority. Mayor Foxx will face many challenges because the nation must address a significant transportation funding shortfall, and there are still too many American’s losing their lives on the nation’s roadways." 

The group that lobbies for the airline industry cited Foxx's experience with Charlotte's Douglas International Airport as a reason to be hopeful about his likely ascension to the DOT post.

“As an elected leader of a hub market, Mayor Foxx understands well how important airlines are to jobs and the economy,” Airlines For American (A4) President Nicholas Calio said in a statement. “A4A urges quick Senate confirmation, and looks forward to working with him to address policy and infrastructure challenges that impede airlines from competing globally and achieving sustained profitability.”

For his part, Foxx said Monday that he would work with everybody if he is confirmed.

“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, air field or rail system," Foxx said. "We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation's infrastructure."