Governor Hochul: "With the $23 billion in new grant opportunities for transit expansion, projects like the phase two of the second avenue subway are no longer going to be talked about on a drawing board, but actually accomplished."
Hochul: "They were ready to go in 1939 and World War II slowed it down. Then they're ready to go in the 1970s and the financial crisis of that era slowed it down again. So finally, in 2021, and hopefully approvals very soon will allow us to announce the start of it in 2022, we'll be able to get it done."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul today joined elected officials and leaders from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to tour the site of the Second Avenue Subway expansion that would extend the Second Avenue line to 125th St in East Harlem.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Governor Hochul: Good afternoon. We certainly meet in the most unusual places here in New York. I'm very delighted to be here beneath the second avenue subway, something that we've been talking about for a very long time, but before we get started, I want to recognize some of the extraordinary leaders who are making this happen.
And let me start with Janno Leiber, who's been with us leading the MTA for four years. A fellow visionary and someone that I work closely with. We speak all the time about the challenges, but also the opportunities afforded to us as we lead it into the post pandemic transportation world. Also Congressman Adriano Espaillat. I've known you for a long time and I don't know that we've ever had a conversation where you didn't mention "now we have to get down here and look at the subway, we have to get down there." So your nagging has paid off. It's something that you're deeply passionate about. And I want to thank you for your leadership as we push for this second phase.
But the queen of the first phase has to be the one and only Carolyn Maloney. She and I lived together in Washington when I was a brand new member of Congress and every morning, "well, how do you think we're going to do with that second avenue, subway?" This is a decade ago. So she has been pushing for this and I want to thank her for her friendship. I don't know if Jerry Nadler had a chance to come here? Oh ok, he's upstairs. Jerry Nadler is onsite and I will be talking to him shortly, but another fellow champion, that's the kind of clout that we have needed and that we have in our nation's capital to help push for the federal funding that is now available to us.
Also at the local level, someone who also dreams big and works really hard on behalf of constituents. And that's our Manhattan borough president, my great friend, Gale Brewer has joined us. Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez is here. Soon to give up the title, but to become the secretary of state in my administration. So I'm very excited. I'll definitely join your final days as Assemblymember.
Also Al Taylor, Assemblymember, I believe is here. I didn't see everybody, great to see you. Senator Serrano. Right here, I should turn around, you are all next to me. Senator Elect Cordell Cleare is here. So Senator elect is here. Also Vincent Boudreau at the, City of New York College president. We got everybody. Okay. Just taking toll. Taking attendance here.
I've told new Yorkers that my vision for this state is bold, especially as we re-envision the post pandemic world. And it's an opportunity for us to see what is out there. A lot of the untapped potential that has been beneath our streets for literally decades. And that's what brings us here today. Last Monday, I stood with my former colleagues in Congress on the White House lawn and witnessed history being made. President Joe Biden with the stroke of a pen, ensured that there'll be transformational historic investments in infrastructure that had been long overdue since the days when I was a 20 something year old staffer working for Senator Moynihan. We used to talk about these projects when he served on the infrastructure committee. The dreams have always been there, but the money never matched the dreams. That era is now over. And I'm very proud of that, that we have this opportunity.
With the $23 billion in new grant opportunities for transit expansion, projects like thephase two of the second avenue subway are no longer going to be talked about on a drawing board, but actually accomplished. And we are very anxious and pressing the administration hard to grant our request, which is in the department of transportation to include the construction of three new subway stations at the 106th street, 116th street and 125th street here in Harlem.
As you can see, we are ready to go. Now this is 50 years old. We were ready 50 years ago. But on the theory of better late than never, I want to thank President Biden and our congressional delegation. Those who had the courage to vote for this infrastructure bill, because there'll come a time when they look back and be able to show grandkids and great-grand kids of what they're able to accomplish while we are still in the throes of a pandemic. The importance of this phase cannot be underestimated. We saw what happened with phase one, again, Carolyn Maloney pressing for this under the Biden administration, and what happened there was a regrowth of an area, a catalyst for economic development.
So, we know the positive impacts in a local community when you work on projects like those. It's stunning, it's a different experience altogether for our commuters who sometimes feel a little beaten down by the experience. And it is our opportunity to also affect their quality of lives and to give them more certainty and safety and just a better experience by the physical environment around them.
Now that phase one is done, phase two is on the books and let's get that done because I can't wait to get it to phase two and phase three and four. Let's get all the way down to phase four. Let's get those done. Let's get all the way down to Houston Street. Let's make those connections. Let's dream big, but let's get phase two done first.
And what will this do? Because you know, this mission started in Harlem back in the twenties and they were so close and all of a sudden something happened that was unforeseen, which was the Great Depression that sidetracked it again. They were ready to go in 1939 and World War II slowed it down. Then they're ready to go in the 1970s and the financial crisis of that era slowed it down again.
So finally, in 2021, and hopefully approvals very soon will allow us to announce the start of it in 2022, we'll be able to get done. Now, what for generations, people have only talked about and dreamed about. So, these three new stations will assist the people of Harlem for starts.
This is the most transit dependent community in the City of New York. 70 percent of residents use public transportation to get to work versus the citywide average of 55 percent. And the East Harlem population has grown. This is great. It's grown 14 percent since the last census. So more people are living here. So, the goal is to make sure that all Harlemites have what we call access and transportation equity. And what we're talking about in particular is access to the transit opportunities that get them connected to jobs, to education, and to opportunities. And that has been missing for far too long. Also they can get up to jobs in places like Westchester. They could actually go to Connecticut, but I'm not encouraging that I'm saying stay, pick your jobs right here.
It'll also alleviate the overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue lines, which currently carry - and this is astounding - 1.3 million passengers a day. That's more riders than San Francisco, Chicago and Boston combined. So take that.
This pandemic has given us a lot of challenges, but also reminded us of the disparities that have existed in so many areas and now is the time to write those wrongs of the past. All of our New Yorkers deserve a 21st century infrastructure experience. And what does this experience look like? Well, it's not going to look like this, my friends. It's going to be bright, it's going to be beautiful, uplifting, WiFi connections, accessibility for people with disabilities, so important. Escalators, ADA accessible. It's going to be high ceilings, it's going to be welcoming, all the things that you sometimes don't feel right now when you're in our system.
Overall, we're rethinking the transit experience from Penn Station to new investments in our subways and buses, making our systems accessible, safe, and reliable, and making sure that we protect the overall health of our community.
So, this has been a tremendous collaborative effort. I love working with my partners in Washington. I worked with them literally as one of one of them for a long time. I know how hard they work, but to be able to get this over the finish line during my administration is going to be so exciting and I cannot wait to get started.
So, ladies and gentlemen, next stop 125th Street.