DOT chief mourns former Rep. Oberstar

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxGeorgia Power says electricity at Atlanta airport will likely be restored by midnight Ex-Obama transportation chief on Atlanta airport power outage: 'Total and abject failure' To address America's crumbling infrastructure, follow Britain's lead MORE mourned the loss of former House Transportation Committee Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) over the weekend. 

Oberstar, who was the last Democrat to lead the House Transportation Committee, died on Saturday at 79-years-old. 

Foxx said that Oberstar’s death was a big loss for the transportation community.  

"Chairman Jim Oberstar's passion for sound transportation policy spanned decades, first as a staffperson and eventually as Chairman of the Congressional Committee that writes and oversees our Federal transportation laws,” Foxx said in a statement. 

"He was a tireless advocate for safety, consumer protections, and robust federal investment so that the American public could continue to enjoy the best transportation system in the world,” Foxx continued in his remarks about Oberstar. "His personal imprint on our national transportation policies across all modes cannot be overstated. His principles and his legislative accomplishments continue to guide the work of the U.S. Department of Transportation each and every day."

Current House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) joined Foxx in mourning the loss of Oberstar.

"Congress, Minnesota, and the nation have lost a good man who dedicated his life to public service and our country’s transportation system," Shuster said.  "Jim Oberstar was respected and admired for his tireless advocacy for strengthening our infrastructure, first as a staffer, then as a Member, and finally as the chairman of this Committee.  I believe transportation was truly in his blood, and few possessed his breadth of knowledge and passion for these issues he understood to be so important to America.  I will miss my good friend, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Transportation advocates also said the loss of Oberstar was a blow for the infrastructure industries. 

“Jim Oberstar dedicated his life to public service and was a champion of the importance of infrastructure investment,” International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association Executive Director Patrick Jones said in a statement. “His keen intellect and command of history and transportation policy earned him the respect and admiration of all who knew him. We will miss him and extend our sympathies to his family."

“Mr. Oberstar was a thoughtful and knowledgeable lawmaker with almost unparalleled influence in the transportation world, with an appreciation for planning for the long term,” Association of American Railroads President Edward Hamberger added. “He was the leading infrastructure expert of our time who focused on the most effective ways to move people and goods, including the adoption of intermodalism. Congressman Oberstar will be remembered as a dedicated and loyal servant to the American people."

Oberstar was a member of Congress from 1975 to 2011. He was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2007 until he left Congress following the 2010 election.