Foxx’s Baggage

Obama transportation secretary nominee under fire for transportation projects


When President Barack Obama nominated the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Anthony Foxx, to replace outgoing transportation secretary Ray LaHood, he claimed Foxx is “one of the most effective mayors that Charlotte has ever seen.”

However, Foxx’s management of the Charlotte Douglas airport and a new streetcar program, which are often cited as credentials for his nomination, both face controversy.

The Charlotte Streetcar Project was initially funded with a $25 million grant from the Department of Transportation and $12 million from Charlotte. The first phase of the six-stop system is 1.5 miles long, costing more than $12 million per half mile, and the project is planned to have 10 miles of streetcar lines. Funded in 2011, groundbreaking occurred over a year later.

A budget proposed by Foxx to fully fund The Charlotte Streetcar Project with an 8% increase in the property tax was defeated by the City Council in a 6-5 vote in early June 2012.

A second attempt to fund the streetcar project failed in a 7-4 vote. One proposal introduced by the Budget Committee Chair would have increased spending without funding for the streetcar project but was rejected by Foxx.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport has been embroiled in a dispute over its management. Foxx has attacked a proposal to create an independent authority to govern the airport, arguing the city should maintain control over the $12 billion asset.

The current director of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Jerry Orr, has come out against Foxx, saying, “This airport out to be an airport authority.”

A study funded by Charlotte on how best to manage the airport concluded, “The best form of governance for most public sector U.S. airport, including the Charlotte Airport, is a properly structured airport authority.”