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Obama picks Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for USDOT Secretary – UPDATED

Posted by on April 28th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Anthony Foxx could be
our next DOT Secretary.
(Photo: Anthony Foxx Facebook Page)

News has broken this evening that President Obama will pick Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next US Department of Transportation Secretary. Foxx, 41, would replace Ray LaHood, who Obama appointed in December 2008.

Foxx has been mayor of Charlotte for almost four years and just recently announced he would not seek re-election. He’s a former lawyer who has spent most of his professional life in politics. From what I’ve seen reported so far, it appears Foxx does not have much transportation experience. He’s pushed for highway widening projects, he’s started a streetcar revival in Charlotte and he’s a big proponent of rail transit in general.

Here’s more on the selection of Foxx from Slate’s Matthew Yglesias:

“It’s a savvy choice from the standpoint of the White House’s politics. Charlotte is a fast-growing and successful sunbelt city, and Foxx is well-regarded locally and politically associated with efforts to make it a bit less of a sunbelt sprawl zone and a bit more of a dense urban area…

…In the scheme of things, I like a mayor who’s invested in transit and density much more than the majority of transportation secretaries we’ve had in America but my dream candidate would have only put forward great transportation projects. But fundamentally lots of good things have happened in Charlotte under Foxx, and tapping him is a good sign that Obama wants to continue with progressive transportation reforms. I’m happy.”

Foxx riding his bike to launch Bike Charlotte!.
(Photo: Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer)

And Foxx’s hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, had this to say about Foxx’s perspective on transportation:

“Foxx is interested in how transit can shape urban development, and he shares the Obama administration’s support for high-speed rail and creating walkable cities with development clustered around transit stops.”

As for bicycling, Foxx has actively supported it. He’s held an annual “Bike to Breakfast” event and he hops on a road bike to help launch “Bike Charlotte,” an annual cycling promotional campaign. When Charlotte launched their bike share system last summer, Foxx grinned for the local media during the inaugural ride.

Rob Sadowsky, executive director of Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) said this evening that he’s “very excited to have a Secretary that likes to bike, understands the need for a balanced transportation system and understands urban land use.”

As a bike town, Charlotte isn’t a major bright spot; but they appear to be on the rise. They are currently recognized as a “Bronze” level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The City of Charlotte Bicycle Plan was last updated in 2008. According to the 2012 Benchmarking Report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Charlotte ranks 44th (out of 51) in U.S. cities in terms of how many people walk and bike and 23rd in spending per capita on biking and walking projects. The U.S. Census reports that Charlotte has a 0.2% bicycling mode share.

Obviously, there’s a lot we don’t yet know about Foxx and how he’d manage America’s transportation system. And of course, he might not even be confirmed. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 4/19 9:13 AM: Here’s the statement on Foxx’s selection from League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke:

“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. Under his 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. 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. Cities are the economic engine of the nation and Mayor Foxx knows firsthand the importance of providing an efficient and equitable transportation system that offers real choices while also addressing the health and safety of its residents. We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx in his new role.”

CORRECTION, 9:09 AM: This article mistakently attributed the following quote to Foxx: “The goal of any transportation system, especially rail transit, is not to move people. That is not the goal. The goal is economic development at the stations. The means is by moving people.” That quote was said by Christopher Leinberger, a professor at the George Washington University School of Business in this Washington Post article. I regret any confusion this caused.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 29, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Holding by breath. Hoping for the best.

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    • Todd Boulanger April 29, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Change is hard…I had been hoping for Janette Sadik-Khan, but perhaps she told the Prez “no”. Its all above my pay grade.

      Foxx will be a great DOT leader if he just institutionalizes much of the recent progress.

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    • q`Tzal April 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I’m hoping that the bicycle photo ops where more than just cynical political publicity grabs.

      My experience Down South(tm) with bicycling in the public sphere is that cycling is seen as even less than a childish “toy bike” activity. Far too often in South and North Carolina bicycling is the last resort of those whose driving is SO BAD they can no longer get SR22 insurance.
      So, naturally the “reasoning” goes: all adult bicycle riders must be dangerous drunks who have injured or killed people and these bicycle riders are deserving of what ever harm comes to them.

      I hope that attitude of cycling is not firmly rooted in the mind of this new USDOT leader.

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  • Hart Noecker April 29, 2013 at 3:08 am

    “The goal of any transportation system, especially rail transit, is not to move people. That is not the goal. The goal is economic development at the stations. The means is by moving people.”

    Wait, what’s the goal then?

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    • ols 442 April 29, 2013 at 6:24 am

      The goal is to spend lots of your tax money on stuff people will never use.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Hart (and others),

      Please see the correction I just added. Foxx never said that quote. It was someone else. Sorry for the confusion. My mistake.

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  • MM April 29, 2013 at 6:41 am

    “Foxx does not have much transportation experience”….
    This is the Obama era – no experience necessary.

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  • longgone April 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

    As a “people” I want to BE MOVED by rail to many far flung stations, where I can take my bike off the train and pedal around to spend my money. Yes Station are nice. You need them to load “people” and “freight” on them. Build them Mr. Foxx, and Starbucks will show up, along with other boutiques of retail gewgaws! Lets hope this guy isnt an anemic underachiever. For Gods sake , I wish Potus would start kickin’ ass, and quit lollygaggin’ around!

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    • longgone April 29, 2013 at 11:44 am

      I see that the quote I read was attributed to a different source. I am much happier to learn that is was not Mr. Foxx’ outlook on rail. Good,good,goood.

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  • Dave April 29, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I’d LOVE to hear a Sec Trans publicly link auto use to terrorist funding.
    Make car use sound like the anti-American act that it truly is.

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson April 29, 2013 at 9:49 am

    looks like he has a pretty nice bike

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