Safety will remain our top priority at DOT. At the same time, I will work to improve the efficiency and performance of our current transportation system while building the infrastructure we need for future generations,’ said Secretary Foxx. ‘In doing so, I look forward to bringing my ‘on the ground’ experiences as a mayor, while embracing the tremendous knowledge, skill and ingenuity of the DOT workforce and our many stakeholders.’
Foxx’s 2009 to 2013 tenure as mayor and his professional background suggest he will continue outgoing DOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s fondness for rail and transit, Alex Goldmark writes for the Associated Press in an article appearing on WNYC.org’s Transportation Nation blog. Foxx helped to launch a streetcar system and a light rail extension for Charlotte, and also began a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations, Goldmark notes.
The new Secretary of Transportation spent his first full day on the job meeting employees and holding meetings on important issues, including transportation safety and severe weather preparedness. He now leads an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget overseeing surface, maritime, and air transportation, according to a DOT statement.
An attorney, Foxx spent much time in private practice. He served as a law clerk for Judge Nathaniel Jones (who swore him in as DOT Secretary), as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as staff counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. President Barack Obama said on April 29, 2013, that he would nominate Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation, and on June 27, the Senate confirmed his nomination in a vote of 100-0.
Outgoing Secretary LaHood was a close partner with Obama on ambitious policies like extending the nation’s high-speed rail network and promoting infrastructure investment, Goldmark writes. LaHood is especially known for championing safety and launching a campaign against distracted driving, distraction.gov.
LaHood told Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune what he would do if he were to hold the job for a lot longer:
If I were going to stay in this job for another 3 1/2 years, my goal would be to get Congress to pass a national law on distracted driving. I met with every CEO of every car manufacturer, foreign and domestic, to try and persuade them that this is something they really need to address. We went from 18 states passing laws to 41 states that have passed laws against texting or talking on the phone while driving. There are a lot of heartbreaking stories. Four and a half years ago, nobody was talking about distracted driving. It wasn’t even in the lexicon of anyone.