Governor Hochul: “…this Gateway project, has been talked about a long time. We need this done. This is the lifeblood of not just our region, but the entire nation’s economy.”

Hochul: “I’m going to take advantage of this almost $300 million in funding to be a catalyst to get this project going – the first demonstrative step to make this historic project a reality. And let’s not forget, we love infrastructure, moving people, all this. 72,000 jobs are associated with this project.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul joined President Joe Biden, United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to announce a new $292 million federal grant, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that will go towards the completion of an early phase of the Hudson Tunnel project to improve transportation access in the Northeast Corridor.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below: 

Good morning. What a spectacular day to be here. Anytime the president comes to visit, he knows he’s welcome. The First Lady is always welcome. Some may have noticed that the Empire State Building was lit up in the colors paying tribute to the First Lady’s favorite team – okay, that is how I am going to spin that one. 

But it is great to be here with our President who you will be hearing from shortly, but also the Governor of New Jersey who has been a staunch ally, a great partner, Phil Murphy. Our Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg – we had a great conversation about, when you have a lot of experiences, you can talk about what it is like to raise one year old twins. That’s extraordinary. So, he’s been tested in many ways. You know our Mayor Eric Adams is here as well. We have been to many events, many events this week, including the opening of the first train station in 67 years in the nation, Grand Central Madison, we got that done. We have our Senator – Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has joined us, you will be hearing from him shortly. Our Senator Kirstin Gillibrand, members of congress have joined us, Senator Bob Menendez I know is also here as well. 

And if I could just give a special shout out to the people that make everything happen when it comes to transportation – Rick Cotton, the Executive Director of the Port Authority, Rick Cotton, thank you for all you do. Janno Lieber, the chair of the MTA, Stephen Gardner, the CEO of Amtrak, Anthony Coscia, the Chairman of the Board of Amtrak, and all of our great partners, and the men and women of labor – thank you. Thank you. 

Well like I said, it’s great to have the President back. He has been here for such extraordinary, life changing announcements. It wasn’t that long ago we announced that New York State was able to win over a project known as Micron that the rest of the nation wanted, but we landed them right here in New York with 50,000 jobs, and that’s just getting started. So the President was an important part of that. Majority Leader Schumer was an important part. 

So that’s what we do. We talk about the jobs that are coming here. We did IBM jobs, we do infrastructure projects. But as the President said yesterday when he was in Baltimore, to have the best economy in the world, you need to have the best infrastructure in the world. And the gateway project, this gateway project, has been talked about a long time. We need this done. This is the lifeblood of not just our region, but the entire nation’s economy. 

And any further delays put us in danger because you never know what could happen. My God, a hurricane hitting New York – how foreign was that a decade ago, except my first week on the job a year ago, we had two hurricanes. So we have to be prepared for circumstances that you never would’ve expected in your wildest dreams. We need to have the redundancy – backups – to make sure that this region is never ever paralyzed, because that’s exactly what would happen. 

So the Northeast Corridor is the most used rail line in the country. It’s not just an economic driver for New York and New Jersey, which is very important to us. That should be good enough. But there’s the rest of the country that’s also relying on this, and our members of Congress who need to get back and forth to their jobs in Washington. I see Congressman Goldman in the front row there, worried about getting back. 

So, we also know that the more we can entice people to use our train system, we’re promoting a cleaner, better environment for our children and our grandkids. And that’s what’s so important to us. So, today, we announce the concrete casings. We’re celebrating. Only people in this room get excited about concrete casings, I assure you. But we do. We’re excited because this is a milestone. This means things are starting to happen. No more talk. We had four presidents, five governors, had a lot of talk. That’s just in our state. 

Now, things are starting to happen, and you are all here to witness this – the beginning of something that’s going to be extraordinary that people years from now will say, “It was bold. It was audacious and not for the faint of heart.” But just like we do in New York, in New Jersey, we said, “We go boldly into projects like this because it’s an essential episode that must happen.” And if we don’t do this, if we fail future generations, we’ll be scorned upon should anything happen to this critical lifeblood of our region. 

So, we know the great potential. We’re going to make this investment. But this federal money, thank you, President Biden, for understanding how important this is. We cannot do this alone. The Secretary knows this. He’s always being asked all the time for money. It’s like when I’m walking around Albany, the Mayor, they’ve always got their hands out. I understand this, but now it’s my chance to have my hands out, and I’m going to take advantage of this almost $300 million in funding to be a catalyst to get this project going – the first demonstrative step to make this historic project a reality. 

And let’s not forget, we love infrastructure, moving people, all this. 72,000 jobs are associated with this project. I think that gets a round of applause because as I was coming here, I was thinking about what does 72,000 jobs look and feel like? We have about 1,500 towns and cities in the State of New York. I only have 25 that are bigger than 72,000. I mean, that’s bigger than most of the towns in the State of New York. The number of people – Gary LaBarbera is excited about this. 

We’re going to be putting so many men and women to work, and we’re going to train them and help lift them up and out of their circumstances. That’s what the power of these projects is all about. It’s not just about the future – that’s important – but today, people need these jobs and that’s why we are acting with such urgency. 

And I’ll also say one more thing. It’s great to have a tunnel. Not a lot of people are actually going to see this. Let’s talk about what they’re going to actually see. Let’s talk about a revitalized, brand-new Penn Station because we have gone too long in the darkness, my friends. I’ve described this as the seven levels of Hell. 

I dropped my little girl off and I say, “Hope I see you again, darling.” It’s not that bad, everybody. But the reality is, our President when he was Vice President pointed out that LaGuardia years ago – a third-world country, that might be insulting to the third-world countries. I don’t know. But you think about that today, we don’t have what this community, this state, this region, this country deserves in Penn Station. 

And that’s why with support from the federal government, support from New Jersey, we’re working as partners to make sure that the experience is uplifting and beautiful for everyone who comes through that station. Because when I was a much younger staffer for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in Washington, he said the demolition of Penn Station was one of the greatest crimes, greatest civic crimes ever committed in our history. Well, we have a plan to solve that crime, Senator Moynihan, we’re going to fix it. We’re going to get it right. And so, we’ll have a project that’s worthy of this community, worthy of our neighbors in New Jersey and everyone who visits. 

So, I’m excited. I love projects like this. I must have played with a lot of Legos when I was a little kid, and I definitely had a train set because this is energetic. This says we’re moving forward. We’re not stagnating in the past or the COVID world that paralyzes for too long. We’re reaching out in the future and seizing it with gusto, and I’m energized, excited. I’m so proud to be here today with President Joe Biden.