US Senate confirms Anthony Foxx as transportation secretary

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx was named the 17th U.S. Secretary of Transportation after a vote on Thursday by the U.S. Senate.

North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan spoke in the Senate chamber commending Foxx for his accomplishments in office. She said he helped to secure investments for Charlotte, including the Interstate-485 expansion and lightrail extension.

She said his experience makes him perfect for the job.

“[I am] sad to see him leave in Charlotte, pleased the entire country will soon benefit from his leadership,” said Sen. Hagan.

Foxx will have to resign in Charlotte before taking his oath as Secretary of Transportation and leaving the Charlotte City Council to appoint someone to replace him.

The only legal requirement is that the person be of the same political party and be eligible to hold the office. City Council can use two options of their choosing: take up a vote or allow for an application process.

Until then, Mayor Pro-Tem Patrick Cannon would exercise “duties, powers, and obligations” of the mayor.

Politico talks with Foxx as he takes over at DOT

Anthony Foxx

POLITICO has an interview with former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, as he takes the reins at the U.S. Department of Transportation. President Barack Obama nominated Foxx to replace outgoing Tansportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republicans.

In the story, Foxx said he would maintain LaHood’s bipartisan approach to funding infrastructure.

POLITICO writes:

He also borrowed a line LaHood loves to use when addressing the nation’s infrastructure funding gap, saying “there is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.”

The story also points out eight issues Foxx will face at DOT — including how the sequester will affect transportation funding, reauthorizing Amtrak and maintaining safety of the nation’s airways.
Read the story here.

McCrory signs bill to change the way NC funds transportation projects

RALEIGH — North Carolina has a new way to fund road and other transportation projects. Just months after presenting the idea, Gov. Pat McCrory signed the so-called Strategic Mobility Bill into law Wednesday morning, changing the way the state now looks at transportation.

Legislative, administration, and local leaders were on hand to watch Gov. McCrory sign the bill into law. It was just two months ago that the governor first pitched this proposal, and on Wednesday, he said it was able to move swiftly through the legislative process because it just makes sense.

“We have politicized the road system way too much where the roads go eight lanes down to two lanes back to eight lanes, and it’s obvious that roads were often built upon politics,” McCrory said. “Now it is going to be based upon economic development, congestion and safety.”

Under this new plan, transportation funding would be divided into three categories: state, regional and local levels. Projects would need to compete within these categories in order to get the dollars that they need. Lawmakers said that could be good news for smaller communities.

“One of the things that has hurt the rural area, in industry recruitment, they don’t have good connections to the major markets and transportation centers,” said Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenburg County. “If you can’t get a truck in to ship product, you can recruit a factory.”

Under the new formula, it is expected that the Department of Transportation will be able to complete 85 additional projects in the next 10 years, which would create an additional 65,000 new jobs. And McCrory said it is a huge step in the right direction for the state.

“This is major reform in getting a bigger bang for our buck with limited dollars to build roads and other transportation in North Carolina,” McCrory said.

The new funding formula for transportation will be fully implemented under the new law in July 2015.

– Loretta Boniti

Triangle Expressway toll hike curbed until January

RALEIGH — Tolls on the Triangle Expressway were the topic of discussion at the Department of Transportation Thursday.

Although a rate hike is coming, the Turnpike Authority’s board of directors agreed to push it back from July of this year to January 2014. Known as North Carolina’s first modern toll road, the DOT said traffic on the Triangle Expressway exceeded projections since the latest phase opened about six months ago.

However, an increase in tolls are still coming to the roadway.

“We are ahead of schedule on toll collections. We are above revenue projections,” said Tony Tata, Secretary of the Department of Transportation.

It’s part of a scheduled rate increase. Every year in January for the foreseeable future, people will see a small hike to help pay back the bond used to build the road.

“It’s 5 percent [increase] every year in January so everyone can work around that,” said director of operations for the NC Turnpike Authority John Breedlove.

There have been some bumps in the road. Tata said the department has worked out issues of double billing. Some drivers have been received bills for a toll that’s less than $1, which led to complaints that sending in a check costs more than the bill itself.

Tata said that problem has been addressed as well.

“The data we have now shows that [issue is] dropping off rapidly,” said Tata.

The Triangle Expressway extends from south of Durham to Apex.

– Linnie Supall

NC lawmakers to consider budget, tax reform and DOT maximum speed limit proposals

RALEIGH — State lawmakers are looking to hand over some big proposals to each other this week so that final negotiations on state money issues can begin.

First, the House version of the budget will land back on the Senate side for consideration.

The bottom line on the two plans is not far apart, but the distribution of the dollars varies, and it is expected that the two chambers will have to negotiate a compromise.

And the Senate will sign off on its finalized tax reform package early in the week and send it back to the House. Again, the amendment bill won’t be approved and negotiations on how the state should raise money will also begin.

These two pieces of legislation will likely be worked out in tandem so the state knows how much money it will be dealing with for its bottom line

And the state House will start to consider a bill that sped through the Senate.

The proposal says that on certain interstate highways the Department of Transportation can set a maximum speed limit of 75 miles per hour.

Right now, the maximum speed limit in North Carolina is 70 miles per hour.

– Loretta Boniti

Senate committee to vote on Foxx confirmation

CHARLOTTE– Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx is one step closer to becoming a part of the President’s cabinet.

The U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will meet today to vote on Foxx’s nomination for U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

President Barack Obama nominated Foxx in April to take over the role from Ray Lahood.

In his hearing in front of the committee last month, Foxx talked about his experience with transportation issues and his ability to balance a budget in a difficult economic environment.

If approved at today’s meeting, Foxx could be confirmed by the full Senate in a few weeks.

Foxx appears before Senate committee in confirmation hearing for cabinet post

WASHINGTON—Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appeared before senators Wednesday for his confirmation hearing as the next transportation secretary.

Foxx appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation as part of his confirmation hearings.

Foxx was introduced by Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr. And for more than two hours, he aimed to preserve that bipartisan tone by avoiding controversial questions and vowing to work with both Democrats and Republicans.

“My goal as transportation secretary, if confirmed, would be to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Foxx.

However Foxx will face some tough challenges if the Senate gives him the job, budget cuts are putting pressure on every government agency.

“We’re in a situation in sequester where there is going to be pain,” said Foxx.

At the same time, infrastructure is crumbling, and localities across the country are struggling to come up with new ways to pay for decent roads.

“Our rail lines are deteriorated, outdated and decrepit,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Foxx sounded open to new revenue solutions, and pointed to Charlotte as an example of how investing in infrastructure ends up benefiting the entire economy.

“Our transportation system at its best connects to jobs and a better quality of life,” said Foxx.

One senator asked him about his ability to balance a budget, especially as budgets were dramatically cut earlier this year.

“When I took the oath of office in Charlotte in 2009, our revenues were $200 million less than what they’d been the year before and we had to work within that. We didn’t raise taxes to get there, we actually had to work within the resources,” Foxx said.

The committee will vote on recommending him for the cabinet position at a later date. If approved, he could be confirmed by the full Senate in June.

– Michael Scotto

Foxx confirmation hearings for cabinet post begin today

CHARLOTTE — Mayor Anthony Foxx will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for his Senate confirmation hearing.

Foxx is a one step closer to becoming the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

People across the state are keeping a close eye on Foxx’s D.C. debut. President Barack Obama nominated Foxx in April to be his next transportation secretary.

This afternoon, Foxx will make his first appearance before the Senate commerce committee.

Foxx will be introduced to the committee by North Carolina Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr.

He’s expected to answer questions about his background and views on transportation, including the administration’s commitment to high-speed rail.

The committee will vote on whether to recommend Foxx for the cabinet position at a later date.

If approved, he could be confirmed by the full Senate in June, and at age 42, would become the youngest member of the Cabinet.

– Erin Roberts

Senate committee to question Transportation Secretary nominee Foxx next week

Anthony Foxx

CHARLOTTE – Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next U.S. Transportation Secretary, will appear before a Senate committee next week.

The committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will question him at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Washington. The committee will vote on another day.

If recommended by the committee, the entire Senate will vote on his confirmation, possibly in June.

Lawmakers to discuss gun rights, transportation funding bill and Cancer Treatment Fairness Act

RALEIGH – This week, lawmakers will discuss expanding gun rights, a possible overhaul in transportation funding and the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act.

After a delay because of unknown costs and other questions, the state House is looking to debate expanding gun rights in North Carolina namely on college campuses and restaurants.

Lawmakers were waiting to get a judiciary note for the proposal which also increases penalties for some gun violations.

The University of North Carolina system has expressed concern over provisions in the bill which would let firearms be allowed on campuses.

Gun rights groups say it is smart step for safety.

After a major adjustment in a proposal to overhaul transportation funding, the bill will be before the Big Money Committee in the House this week.

Last week, lawmakers voted to put three expensive projects on the “must do” list in the legislation.

Bill sponsors say they will look to get the projects removed again in attempts to push forward this proposal to take politics out of the transportation construction business.

And a proposal to mandate that insurance companies cover oral cancer drugs will be back before committee.

The so-called Cancer Treatment Fairness Act says that companies cannot be selective in which forms of treatment they will cover.

Insurance companies argue it is not fair to mandate they cover what could be costly or unproven methods of care.

– Loretta Boniti