Foxx is a friend of transit

On Monday the Obama administration announced the president's pick to take over from Ray Lahood as secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The nominee is Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, who is an excellent choice -- and also a proponent of transportation choices!

NRDC issued a statement by our executive director Peter Lehner:

“President Obama has tapped an exceptional leader to take the wheel at America’s premier transportation agency. Anthony Foxx, who helped solve tough transportation challenges as mayor of Charlotte, will put that experience to work for our country, creating jobs and improving rail, bus, and other public transportation. That will benefit us all by reducing the nation’s pollution, dependence on oil and traffic congestion in our communities and on our highways.

“Anthony Foxx is the right person to carry on the important work initiated by Secretary LaHood to modernize our country’s public transportation systems and the infrastructure needed to carry us forward in the 21st Century.”

Peter also wrote a great blog about Mayor Foxx.

I am extremely pleased with the president's pick. Two years ago, when I led NRDC's efforts to consider ramping up our transportation advocacy in metropolitan regions, I recommended Charlotte as the top choice -- based in part on Mayor Foxx's strong record in support of public transportation. Everything we've seen since beginning to work in that city confirms that Foxx is a true friend of transit. He gets that it's about more than simply moving people more efficiently in a traffic-clogged city; it's also about strengthening the local economy, improving community sustainability, protecting public health and reducing pollution.

The Washington Post published a good profile of Mayor Foxx, in which the up-and-coming politico is praised for his leadership, especially on the issue of transit. Foxx has presided over the extension of the city's popular light rail line and also has championed a new streetcar system. He has eloquently characterized the streetcar as an engine of "income, history and perception" for the city, and described the proposed tram line as "a galvanizing vision of our community."

Although the effort to win over the city council to fund the streetcar will ride on without him, the nation will benefit from Foxx being at the helm of DOT. At a time when opinion polls continue to show that a majority of Americans "feel the nation can no longer build its way out of traffic congestion” it's important for the public to realize that transit must be part of the solution. Applying the full force of the nation's transportation agency to boost investment in public transportation -- to expand transportation choices -- is now more important than ever. And for those of us who get that, Anthony Foxx is the best friend we could have leading the charge for more choices, less traffic.

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