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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Exiting transportation secretary predicts greater focus on infrastructure in Obama’s second term

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, whose successor was nominated by the president Monday, stressed that the U.S. still had leaps and bounds to go before touting a high-speed rail system – one of his key focuses in his four-year term.  Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter McKinley Kant.

Outgoing transportation secretary Ray LaHood called for bold leadership and innovative ideas to revitalize the U.S.’s outdated infrastructure Monday at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

LaHood, who announced his plans to step down in January, spoke about the future of American transportation just hours after President Barack Obama nominated Anthony Foxx, the Democratic mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as LaHood’s successor.

“We are not number one in infrastructure anymore,” Lahood admitted. “We’re way down the list because we aren’t making the investments.”

But LaHood also touted some of his accomplishments as secretary, including raising fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and laying the groundwork for a high-speed rail system – which has been championed by Foxx in the Southern metropolis.

During LaHood’s tenure, the Obama administration doled out more than $12 billion for a more efficient rail system, much of which has yet to reach fruition.

“Eisenhower had a vision to connect America via an interstate highway system and it took 50 years. Think about what it’d be like if Eisenhower signed a passenger rail bill. We’d be like Europe,” LaHood said.

Highlighting the importance of leadership at the federal level, LaHood said transportation infrastructure would be a top priority for Obama’s second term after overcoming legislative hurdles posed by immigration reform and the sequester.

The former Republican congressman from Illinois criticized state officials who turned down federal funding to build high-speed railways in their states and emphasized the need for strong leaders who would set priorities based on American needs.

“People with leadership need to be elected in the states. In order to accomplish these things, you need people with a vision,” he said.

The event, hosted by the International Affairs Society, was LaHood’s third visit to GW as transportation secretary.

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