U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Visits South Carolina Steel Plant
Topics: Anthony Foxx
Federal Highway Administration
18 February 2015
Tuesday, February 18, 2015
Contact: Neil Gaffney
Calls for Increased National Transportation Investment
COLUMBIA, S.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Congressman James E. Clyburn and Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin today at Owen Steel Company to highlight the need for increased funding to improve freight systems and port facilities and ensure U.S. manufacturers can compete in the 21st century global economy. The Secretary's visit is part of a four-day, five state bus tour, The GROW AMERICA Express, highlighting the importance of investing in America's infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.
"American companies like Owen Steel are facing increased costs due to congestion on our roads and ports," said Secretary Foxx. "The whole country needs better quality roads, more durable bridges and the kind of large-scale repairs to America's aging infrastructure that are only possible with federal investment. This is why we're counting on Congress to pass the President's GROW AMERICA Act, so we can have adequate funding for an innovative multi-modal freight system."
According to Owen Steel, infrastructure investment is critical to expanding demand for their product. Each day, the company ships tons of steel on South Carolina highways and through the Port of Charleston for domestic and international markets. Owen Steel truck drivers face an extra 30-minutes to an hour of travel time due to congestion on I-26 at "Malfunction Junction."
In his remarks, the Secretary also highlighted the proposed "Carolina Crossroads" project, an ambitious effort by the state to dramatically improve the confluence of I-20/I-26/I-126 – an area known to some as "Malfunction Junction."
Although money has been programmed to start the environmental review process, no funding has been identified for the construction. Redesigning "Malfunction Junction" is one of South Carolina DOT's top priorities. According to state estimates, it will cost upwards of $700 million and take nearly a decade to construct. The route is heavily used by commuters heading in and out of Columbia and is an important freight connection for the Port of Charleston.
"Federal funding has been an important part of road and bridge repairs for decades," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. "As South Carolinians know, getting rid of the 'Malfunction Junctions' all over the country is the kind of transportation investment we need more of – those that help people get to and from work quickly and safely, get goods to market more efficiently, and improve the local quality of life."
On February 2, the Obama Administration announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal, building on the the GROW AMERICA Act, which the Administration first released last year. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.
The need for these investments is clear. Earlier this month, U.S. DOT released a landmark study, "Beyond Traffic" that looked at the trends and choices facing American transportation over the next three decades. These included a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that's facing more frequent extreme weather events. A key takeaway of the study was that we need to keep investing in transportation for the sake of future generations, and the proposals included in GROW AMERICA would allow us to do just that.
The GROW AMERICA Express will include visits to universities, manufacturers, bridges, freight facilities, and highway projects in an effort to raise awareness of America's infrastructure deficit. Secretary Foxx will visit with students, business leaders, transportation stakeholders, and community residents, to discuss the projects that work, projects that are needed, and to ask them to commit to standing up for a future with an American transportation system that is second-to-none.
To follow the Secretary's tour, visit http://www.dot.gov/grow-america.
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