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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx spent the President's Day holiday week visiting transportation project sites and facilities in five
southern states, as he used a congressional recess period to generate publicity about the nation's infrastructure funding issues.
Foxx, who was joined on part of the trip by Vice President Joseph Biden, touted the Obama administration's "Grow America Act" proposal that would tax foreign profits of U.S. corporations to cover projected Highway Trust Fund shortfalls over six years, boost transit and passenger rail spending and create a national infrastructure bank to finance special projects.
He also drove home the message that Congress needs to act on highway and transit program spending before a May 31 deadline to replenish the trust fund.
Foxx had announced his "Grow American Express" bus tour on Feb. 12, saying it would start in Tallahassee, Fla., and proceed through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia before ending in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station bus and train terminal.
Despite a series of snow storms and a record-cold "polar vortex," Foxx kept to his schedule, with the USDOT issuing daily announcements while local officials and members of Congress joined in and local media covered the progress.
On Feb. 17, Foxx visited the site of a planned roadway widening project in Florida's capital of Tallahassee, and later visited a bridge replacement project under way for Interstate 95 at Jacksonville.
That same day, the USDOT chief went to Savannah, Ga., to highlight a proposed connector road project for trucks moving to and from a container terminal at the docks there.
On Feb. 18, Biden and Foxx visited the Wando Welch Terminal Project in Charleston, S.C., where upgrades will help that port's largest terminal handle the increasing volumes arriving with larger containerships.
They also visited a steel plant in that area, where they were told that truck drivers are losing time moving to and from Charleston docks as they become caught in highway congestion.
Feb. 19 saw Biden and Foxx in Charlotte, N.C., where Foxx was mayor before taking the top USDOT post. There they highlighted passenger and freight rail needs, including plans for Charlotte to build a multimodal passenger facility to replace an Amtrak station and connect with streetcar and bus operations.
That same day, Foxx went on to meet area officials in Durham, N.C., to bring attention to a proposed light rail transit project there "and the benefits that increased investment in transportation and infrastructure would bring to communities across the country," the DOT said.
He ended the tour Feb. 20 with appearances in Virginia and D.C.