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Obama nominates Charlotte mayor as next transportation secretary

President Obama on Monday announced that he is nominating Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx to be his next secretary of transportation, praising Foxx for using investments in infrastructure to recuperate Charlotte's economy.

Foxx, Mr. Obama said from the White House's East Room, has been "one of the most effective mayors Charlotte has ever seen."

If confirmed Foxx will replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who announced his retirement earlier this year. LaHood previously served as a Republican in Congress, and his departure leaves Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as the only Republican in Mr. Obama's cabinet.

Joining Mr. Obama and LaHood for the announcement Monday, Foxx stressed the need for bipartisanship. "There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system," he said. "We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation's infrastructure."

Foxx, who was first elected in 2009, gained notoriety last year after his city hosted the Democratic National Convention. He has overseen the wide expansion of transportation infrastructure in Charlotte, including the expansion of the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport and the LYNX light rail system. During his tenure, the city also broke ground on the Charlotte Streetcar Project.

"He's got the respect of his peers... and as a consequence, I think he's going to be extraordinarily effective," Mr. Obama said, noting that the Department of Transportation works directly with state and local leaders to build infrastructure.

The president also praised LaHood for his effectiveness, calling him "a model for the kind of bipartisan approach to governance I think we need so badly in this town."

During LaHood's tenure, Mr. Obama said, the administration helped improve more than 350,000 miles of road, upgrade more than 6,000 miles of rail, repair or replace more than 20,000 bridges and put tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job.

LaHood said that the "crowning glory" of Mr. Obama's transportation legacy will be the development of high-speed rail in America.

"Lincoln stated the rail system in America, Obama has started high-speed rail in America -- what a legacy," he said.

He also praised the president for raising fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025. "It didn't take one vote of Congress, all it took was a little bit of leadership," he said. "What a legacy, cleaning up the air in America, getting cleaner burning cars."

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