Roundup of Reactions to LaHood Resignation

USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood will be a tough act to follow. Image – Jonathon Maus, BikePortland.

Here are excerpts of reaction from all corners of the transportation industry to USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s resignation announcement.

President Obama: “As Secretary of Transportation, he has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems. Under his leadership, we have made significant investments in our passenger rail system and laid the groundwork for the high-speed rail network of the future.  And every American who travels by air, rail or highway can thank Ray for his commitment to making our entire transportation system safer and stronger,” (President Obama Reflects on Ray LaHood’s Accomplishments, Transportation Issues Daily).

 Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington state), who worked with LaHood on freight and other transportation issues: “Secretary LaHood was a critical partner in passing new transportation and aviation bills last year that have put people to work improving roads, bridges, transit, and air travel across America,” (Sen. Maria Cantwell Reflects on Work with LaHood on Freight, Transportation Issues Daily)

The Washington, D.C.-based Women’s Transportation Seminar International said LaHood made it a priority to increase the number of women working in the transportation industry (WTS news release). “While he’s been leading the charge to keep America’s transportation structure operating, he’s also been working and partnering with organizations like ours with an eye on the future. Workforce development is critical for this country and the world’s future, and bringing young women and other critical populations into the industry is where Secretary LaHood’s passion comes through.”

“While he’s been leading the charge to keep America’s transportation structure operating, he’s also been working and partnering with organizations like ours with an eye on the future. Workforce development is critical for this country and the world’s future, and bringing young women and other critical populations into the industry is where Secretary LaHood’s passion comes through.” 

Recently retired AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley commented that “We at AASHTO applaud U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for four years of dedicated leadership, especially on safety. On his watch, highway fatalities have dropped by about 5,000 deaths per year. Distracted driving is a national priority today because of his personal zeal. He also helped states create thousands of jobs through investments in highways, transit, and high-speed rail.”

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman — and potential Transportation secretary candidate — Deborah Hersman observed that LaHood “led the way on several important initiatives, including the effort to stop texting while driving, addressing the commercial vehicle safety, and pushing for the long-awaited rule to address fatigue in the cockpit, to name just three of the key safety initiatives under the secretary’s leadership.”

Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director Peter Lehner praised LaHood for a helping to “shift the DOT’s priorities away from traditional highway-building and toward creating a more flexible, efficient, interconnected 21st-century transportation system.” Lehner also thanked LaHood for supporting “historic fuel efficiency standards for cars that will double gas mileage by 2025″ and are “the biggest step yet by the federal government to reduce our dangerous dependence on oil and tackle global warming.”

American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said Secretary LaHood was a “tireless advocate for public transportation….his hard work and dedication to advancing public transportation will continue on in the programs that were championed under his leadership.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving ”is extremely grateful for Secretary LaHood’s leadership and his commitment to issues of highway safety during his time in office. He has truly been a leader in drunk driving prevention by supporting MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and demonstrating a willingness to find long-term solutions to drunk driving, such as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).”

Craig Fuller, President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said “We wish Secretary LaHood the best in his future endeavors,” Fuller said. “Ray LaHood ran the Department of Transportation at a time of great change, especially in aviation. Technology-driven innovations, such as the NextGen advances in air traffic control and airspace management, are just now taking shape, and we look forward to working closely with his successor to ensure that general aviation continues to play a vital role in our nation’s transportation system.”

President Edward Wytkind of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO noted that “Secretary LaHood has been a forceful advocate for a safe and modern transportation system.  He oversaw a historic $48 billion transportation economic stimulus program that created or saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. He sent a clear message that our economic recovery will stall if we failed to repair, upgrade and expand our battered transportation infrastructure and boost domestic transportation manufacturing. And he implemented major policy initiatives that will spur innovation and save lives.”

Transportation for America observed that “Perhaps one of [LaHood’s] most valuable roles over the past four years has been as a plainspoken yet highly visible advocate for a smarter way of using transportation dollars to better line up with what Americans really want — which he described after seeing our national poll that affirmed that Americans want more transportation options. . . . When the groundbreaking Partnership for Sustainable Communities — the partnership between DOT, Housing and the EPA — was under threat of budget cuts Sec. LaHood was a strong advocate for the partnership and its common sense approach of coordinating their efforts and making the most of these three agencies’ work.”

BikePortland comments that “while we might quibble with his record here and there, LaHood was a breath of fresh air from a corner of the Cabinet that had never before treated bicycling like a grown-up. His dedication to traffic safety and distracted driving prevention and his support for bicycling moved the needle of bicycle respect. LaHood’s endorsements of bicycling’s legitimacy helped spur a riding renaissance happening now in cities throughout America.”

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, said “Sec. LaHood will leave behind a legacy of helping establish historic increases in fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, implementing the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty trucks, creating a model for investing in forward-thinking transportation projects, bringing together federal agencies to build livable, sustainable cities, and advancing programs to ensure safe biking and walking in our communities. In short, Sec. LaHood leaves behind a cleaner, more efficient transportation system for America.  He is truly deserving of the Sierra Club’s 2012 Edgar Wayburn Award, the highest award given to a public official for service to the environment.”

Scott Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, noted that Secretary LaHood has been “a stalwart advocate for the nation’s transportation system, working tirelessly over the past four years to find solutions to critical safety, mobility and infrastructure challenges. His willingness to tackle tough problems and speak out about issues like distracted driving and the need for greater infrastructure investment has significantly elevated the role of transportation in the national dialogue, including as a key driver of economic growth. We have been particularly grateful for the Secretary’s active participation in the ITS community and his strong support for the connected vehicle program and other technology-based solutions.”

Building America’s Future Co-Chair Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Secretary LaHood has shown real vision in the world of transportation, and his work to reach across the aisle is a great example of the bi-partisan leadership that we need more of in Washington.  His tireless advocacy for safety and investments in critical infrastructure helped shape transportation policy in ways that will benefit Americans for years to come.”

BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster commented that LaHood was a “fierce ally on behalf of better and safer rail, transit and roads. His commitments to domestic manufacturing for transportation investments and to expanding access to high-speed rail and transit are second to none. Under his leadership, he deftly implemented hundreds of Recovery Act projects and transit investments that have put people to work and benefited Americans in every corner of the country.”

American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally said the group “appreciates secretary LaHood’s service to the country as transportation secretary, particularly in elevating the highway safety discussion on distracted driving.”

Building America’s Future Co-Chair Former Governor Ed Rendell said: “Secretary LaHood has been one of the stars of President Obama’s Cabinet.  From his advocacy for investment in our roads, rails, ports and aviation systems to his incredibly effective implementation of the stimulus transportation funding, especially the TIGER grant program, he covered all the bases with passion and commitment.  The mayors and governors of this country know that Secretary LaHood was a champion for their projects and their communities.

American Bus Association President and CEO Peter Pantuso noted that LaHood was a “strong supporter and good friend to the motorcoach industry (pdf news release). The American Bus Association has worked closely with the Secretary on a variety of issues to improve motorcoach safety, including the passage of the new transportation bill last fall, which includes several key measures that will improve the safety of the industry. Under Secretary LaHood’s strong leadership, the Department of Transportation continues to find and shut down motorcoach companies that have repeatedly been cited for illegal operations and refusing to operate under the rules that safe, compliant companies follow.”