Foxx replaces Mr Ray LaHood, who has held the post since Obama assumed office in 2009, and is widely credited for improving Charlotte's public transport networks.

This includes supporting construction of the 17km Lynx Blue Line light rail extension to which the city contributed $US 12m and obtained an additional $US 25m in federal funds, and the overall expansion of the city's light rail system for which it secured a further $US 580m in federal funds last year. In addition, under Foxx's leadership, Charlotte and Norfolk Southern (NS) initiated a lease at the Charlotte airport to construct an intermodal freight hub. NS will pay the $US 74m in construction costs plus another $US 1m annually in land rent, with another $US 16m provided in state and federal funds.

Charlotte is served by two-state subsidised Amtrak services, the Carolinian and the Piedmont, as well as the long-distance New York - New Orleans Crescent service. If confirmed to the post, Foxx will become a member of Amtrak's board of directors, as provided by statute.

Obama described Foxx as "one of the most effective mayors that Charlotte's ever seen," and credited investment in public transport as one of the reasons for the city's growing economy. The President also reserved special praise for LaHood, a Republican from Illinois, for his tireless effort to rebuild America's infrastructure and his success at bridging the partisan political divide.

LaHood is retiring from politics after a 40-year career, which included a 15-year stint in the US House of Representatives from 1994-2009. He described the transportation office as "the best job I have ever had."