January 16, 2014

Secretary Foxx outlines need to overcome infrastructure deficit

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx highlighted America’s infrastructure deficit and identifying ways to use innovation and improved planning to stretch transportation dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible as his top priorities for the Ufor the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT).

Foxx also discussed his vision for multimodal transportation providing greater economic “ladders of opportunity” to all Americans and reiterated the U.S. DOT’s commitment to safety.

“If we’re going to tackle our backlog of repairing and rebuilding, then there’s another part of the equation we have to tackle, too – and that’s cost,” Secretary Foxx said. “But, what if we could make that funding equal more projects — and better ones? “

With the Highway Trust Fund set to run out of money as early as August, Foxx said the U.S. DOT will begin posting monthly on its website exactly how much money the Highway Trust Fund has left, and update that number every month until the fund either sustains itself or runs out. While the U.S. DOT has long provided this figure to Capitol Hill, Foxx said providing it to the public will increase transparency and accountability.

In a speech before the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Foxx touted the U.S. DOT’s “Every Day Counts” initiative and other cost-saving best practices as examples of how transportation dollars could be spent more effectively, citing a study from McKinsey & Co. that found nations can “obtain the same amount of infrastructure for 40% less” by adopting best practices.

He also encouraged representatives from various modes of transportation to work together in a reflection of how travelers use the system, rather than acting as individual silos, proposing the first national transportation plan in more than 70 years.

“We need a plan that takes our roads and rails and ports and links them together,” Foxx said. “Linking them together remakes the finest, most elaborate system of transportation that the world has ever known into its 21st century incarnation.”

The vision outlined by Foxx builds on significant progress the U.S. DOT has made under the Obama Administration, including constructing or improving 6,500 miles of rail corridors, and under the Recovery Act, helped improve nearly 42,000 miles of roads, more than 2,700 bridges, and helped purchase or rehabilitate more than 12,220 transit vehicles.

Additionally, the U.S. DOT has implemented an across-the-board effort to streamline its approval process and cut government red tape, expediting the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit projects, railways, waterways, roads and renewable energy.

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