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Spotted: LaHood Makes Waves in NYC

By Ed O'Keefe

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood speaking Wednesday in New York City. (Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Transportation)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made waves of all sorts in New York City today, presenting awards to volunteers that helped save passengers aboard the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight and announcing changes at New York City airports.

The secretary awarded the Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement to 72 civilian mariners for their efforts in rescuing passengers of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, which crash-landed into the Hudson River on January 15. Representatives of seven ferry boat, water taxi and water cruise companies that assisted emergency personnel in transporting the flight's passengers to dry land joined LaHood on stage during the ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The January rescue efforts mirrored similar service provided by commercial vessels on Sept. 11, 2001, when they helped evacuate at least half a million people from Manhattan. Sea transportation also ferried stranded people during the citywide blackout in August 2003.

In addition to his riverside appearance, LaHood also announced that the Transportation Department has scrapped plans to hold "slot auctions" at New York City's three airports, first proposed last Fall by the Bush administration. Under the plan, the government would have auctioned some runway landing rights at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports to ease congestion, but airlines, industry groups and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey opposed the move.

"We're still serious about tackling aviation congestion in the New York region," LaHood said Wednesday, according to the AP. "I'll be talking with airline, airport and consumer stakeholders, as well as elected officials over the summer about the best ways to move forward."

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 13, 2009; 5:23 PM ET
Categories:  Spotted  
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