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May 23, 2013 3:00 PM, EDT
Foxx Says Top Priorities at DOT Would Be Safety, Efficiency, Infrastructure
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

Transportation Secretary nominee Anthony Foxx told a Senate committee Wednesday that, if confirmed, his top priorities would be on improving safety, efficiency and infrastructure.

Foxx told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that he expects to “be an active participant in the ongoing discussions about MAP-21,” the nation’s most recent transportation law, although he noted that “we’re about seven months into that process.”

“Cutting-edge transportation leaders across the country are finding new ways to boost productivity through better use of technology, data, economic analysis and private sector innovation, such as public-private partnerships, to bring more private-sector capital — and innovation — into the infrastructure market,” he said in his opening statement.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said that tolling Interstate 95 in Foxx’s home state of North Carolina “would be a disaster” for his neighboring state, putting traffic onto secondary roads.

Foxx said he believed tolling “has a place . . . [but] we’re not going to toll our way to prosperity in this country. For example, to add capacity and pay for that capacity, but I don’t think it is a complete solution to how we deal with our surface transportation issues.”

Asked about whether he would support a national infrastructure bank, Foxx said that was a good but limited financing option.

“It’s not a complete solution to every problem we have but it is another way that we can get progress made on infrastructure,” he told the panel.

Foxx, the Democratic mayor of Charlotte, N.C., would succeed outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, who has led DOT since President Obama took office in 2009.

Regarding distracted driving — an issue that was a major focus of LaHood — Foxx said LaHood had “baked that [issue] into the DNA of the Department of Transportation” and that he would continue efforts to combat it.