Foxx to face eight major transportation issues

Anthony FoxxAnthony Foxx

Anthony Foxx has been confirmed as the next Secretary of Transportation.

Now what?

Well, now he prepares to take on many of the same issues his predecessor, Ray LaHood, faced.

And, according to a report from Politico, Foxx will inherit eight main issues: the sequester, highway funding, Amtrak reauthorization, NextGen, distracted driving, the Dreamliner review, multiple pending rules and ongoing safety efforts.

The uncertainty of sequestration could have Foxx handling air traffic controller furloughs and contract tower closures before the end of September. Foxx said during his hearing with the Senate Commerce Committee he would manage the effects of sequestration with “the least amount of pain as possible.”

Foxx’s biggest challenge is likely to be finding a way to fund the highway and transit bill. He is expected to to play a key role in urging Congress to accept a “big and bold” new funding plan from Obama.

Amtrak reauthorization will be another challenge, but it will also be a chance for Foxx, who supported transit in Charlotte, to make a substantial impact. During his nomination, Foxx said, “We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.” He may have to put that to practice when an upcoming passenger rail bill will go before Congress. House Republicans are pushing for cuts in national service mandates, and Senate Democrats will likely push back.

NextGen has continued to be a challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (USDOT), mostly due to the complexity of the program and the cost of implementation. Foxx will have to find ways to continuously fund the program, while also managing the project.

Another continuing issue for the USDOT is distracted driving, which LaHood put a lot of focus on. Foxx promised to continue with efforts to raise awareness about distracted driving, and LaHood said in his final “On the Go” video blog, “I believe my successor will continue this campaign because it’s at the top of the list of the safety agenda we’ve developed here at the Department of Transportation.”

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The upcoming release of FAA’s review of the the certification process that asserted the 787 Dreamlier is safe to fly may bring on more responsibility for Foxx. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the root cause of a Japanese 787’s lithium-ion battery malfunctioning and catching fire. If the USDOT recommends any changes to legislation regarding the 787 Dreamliner, Foxx would be responsible for moving those changes through Congress.

Foxx is also set to take on a variety of pending rules, which all have deadlines that will occur while he is Secretary of Transportation. Among those rules are safety items like increased training requirements for commercial airline pilots, a mandate that would require new vehicles to be equipped with rear-view cameras and a potential change to rules requiring personal electronic devices be turned off when a plane is operating below 10,000 feet.

Foxx will also be responsible for weighing in on safety issues like size and weight mandates for large trucks travelling on federally funded highways, auto safety mandates that would increase the frequency of recalls, human fatigue issues, air traffic control staffing and issues on separation between planes.