This week on the Fast Lane, I’m sharing travel tips for those of you who are getting on a bus, train or plane during the holiday season. But not every mode of transportation has passengers, and let me assure you it’s just as busy for shipping at this time of year. I was reminded of that yesterday, when I traveled to Georgia with freight on my mind.
At the Port of Savannah, I joined Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to tour the nation's fastest-growing port. Savannah's port is vital to our nation’s economy and national security, and it is an impressive site; the facilities there provide a gateway for 21,000 companies in all 50 states. And the port community is working to grow its operations even more through the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
Georgia has its act together on transportation, and it shows. Right now, the Port of Savannah is a huge economic engine; it will be that much stronger if expansion plans are fulfilled. And in this era of partisanship, when a Republican governor and a Democratic mayor work together to advocate for a project, that gets my attention.
I'm always glad to meet with our friends in the freight business because they are absolutely essential to our economic recovery. Whether they’re port officials, shippers, or longshoremen, they’re not just moving the parts and products of agriculture and industry. They are connecting our communities, creating jobs, and moving our economy.
So, ensuring that we can move freight in America faster and more efficiently is among the Obama Administration's highest priorities.
Maritime transportation is one of our most important--and underutilized--avenues for commercial shipping. As oil and gas prices rise, marine highways remain the single most efficient way to haul goods from one place to another. And maritime shipping can help get freight off our roadways and ease traffic. That’s welcome relief for commuters.
With these benefits, plus a newly expanded Panama Canal and President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years, we must continue helping our ports grow.
As we work toward a transportation reauthorization, we have an opportunity to rethink and rebuild America’s transportation system for our children and grandchildren. We have an opportunity to strengthen the economic competitiveness of America's businesses. So, let’s meet this moment together. Let’s get to work. And let’s make our nation’s freight transportation system the envy of the world once again.