August 21, 2023
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Advances Transformative Clean Transportation Projects in the Bronx, Reducing Congestion and Improving Public Health

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Advances Transformative Clean Transportation Projects in the Bronx, Reducing Congestion and Improving Public Health

Governor Hochul: “Today, we're going to take back our community, take back our air and our sidewalks and our streets, and make sure that everyone who calls this wonderful community home will have a better outcome, a better life because they deserve it. We're going to be making changes...They put the highways right through these Black neighborhoods because they knew they didn't have the political clout to stop it, number one. And this was when they're trying to expedite the white flight from the city. And these cities were never the same again until now with my administration, we're going to heal them, bring them back together.”

Hochul: “Today, we take a critical step to right that wrong once and for all, because this is a new era for New Yorkers. I pledge that this is a new day and people, no matter what their ZIP code, where they live or where they started life or where they choose to live should have the same shot at a healthy, productive life. Full stop. That is the New York we're going to create. We're doing it right here in the Bronx.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul advanced clean transportation and access improvements in the Bronx including a major milestone in the State's transformative, $1.7 billion Hunts Point Access Improvement Project. Phase Two of the project, which rehabilitated key sections of the Bruckner Expressway and Bruckner Boulevard to create a more direct route to the Hunts Point Market, will be completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Governor Hochul also announced a $10 million commitment for clean transportation initiatives in the Bronx. The investments in zero-emission school buses, all-electric mobility options, and electric vehicle charging stations will improve air quality and reduce pollution in an underserved congested area of New York City, which includes disadvantaged communities, historically overburdened by environmental pollution. Today’s announcement supports the State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and the State’s transition to zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure with all new passenger cars, school buses, and trucks sold to be zero-emissions by 2035.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event 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:

The basic foundation of life is the ability to breathe and to nourish one's body. For parents in the Bronx, these rights are elusive and for many, unattainable because they live in a community that's under siege from toxic fumes, from heavy truck traffic. Today, we're going to talk about what the State of New York is doing to address that and help these families raise their children in a healthy, safe environment with access to the finest food distribution place in the world here at Hunts Point.

So, I want to thank everybody for joining us here this morning. It's great to be back in the Bronx. The celebration of 50 years of hip hop is going to go on forever. Looking forward to the 75th, the 80th. I know a lot of you'll be joining me with those as well, but we were just here last, a week ago, on a Friday night. I had a great celebration at Yankee Stadium. We won't say any more about the Yankees right now. But I love them.

But while we're back here, let’s talk about the transformation of Hunts Point - to make our commute smoother, the roads smoother, the streets safer, and ultimately make the air cleaner.

And I want to thank people here at this YWCA. This is an extraordinary gathering place for the families and the children who deserve to have the best in life. Because why not? Here is a place where children can just be kids again and families can connect.

I want to thank everyone here at La Central for giving them this gift, and I want to thank many who are involved in bringing this together. And I know our Councilmember, Salamanca, who you'll be hearing from, wanted to make sure that this happened as well and was a driving force. Also, great to see, and I'll be introducing you in a minute, a great friend of mine, our former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who's been involved in all these important projects. We talked for many, many, many years about not just your love for the Bronx, but the necessity of giving the Bronx more. And we'll do that. We'll do that. But thank you for your leadership. Also, Marcos Crespo is here, a former Assemblymember who was in office when I started as lieutenant governor. We had a chance to paddle the Bronx River together and to explore all the wonderful sites, and this truly is a beautiful, beautiful place. Thank you.

Nilka Martell, you'll be hearing from her, the executive director of an organization that we all agree with. It is called Loving the Bronx. How can you not love the Bronx? And let's thank her and all her allies and supporters and members for what they do. We also have the executive director of the YMCA of Greater New York has joined us, Shay Gattis. I want to make sure I get that right. Where are you again? Did I get that right? All right. All right. Thank you. My name is always mangled, so I'm a little sensitive about this, so I want to make sure I get yours right.

Amanda Farias, I want to thank our councilmember for joining us as well, Selvena Brooks-Powers who has also joined us. Councilmember Brooks-Powers is also the Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, so that's why she has joined us here today. Many people have joined us.

But this place is really a treasure trove of history. There's so much to explore and to celebrate about the Bronx, and part of that great history is the Hunts Point Produce Market. It is truly the beating hearts of the bustling food trade here in our city, our state and the nation. And it's all made possible by the family run vendors who have been here for generations and really just making sure we have food to eat, that our restaurants have what they need, that our bodegas and shops have all the fresh produce coming from all over. I'm always happy when I'm touring, and I see the boxes coming in from Upstate New York. Let's keep taking care of our own upstate, our farmers, our growers as well.

And it's all made possible by the family-run vendors, who've been here for generations and really just making sure we have food to eat, that our restaurants have what they need, that our bodegas and stop shops have all the fresh produce coming from all over. I'm always happy when I'm touring, and I see the boxes coming in from Upstate New York. Let's keep taking care of our own Upstate, our farmers, our growers as well.

But this has been serving the city for over 233 years. That's extraordinary. And you think back to that time, you know, the cobble stones, the horses, and all the noise they made, it doesn't compare to what people are dealing with today. The clicking sound of hooves on cobblestone is vastly different than what happens when large semi tractors and trucks come through this neighborhood all the time. So, there's been a huge change. And in 1967, this market that was in this area moved to Hunts Point, and it really has become a vital economic driver, great job creator, over $2 billion of economic impact every year. That's extraordinary. And it is the largest produce terminal in the world. I mean, this is the Bronx, this is New York. We're always going to be the best, and that's a huge point of pride for us, the fact that 60 percent of food in our city runs through this place, nourishing over 23 million people.

But also, with all this economic activity, which is good on this side, there's an impact because how does all this produce get there? It's not being dropped in by drones, I can tell you that much. At least not these days. It's coming in by trucks, and that economic activity means a lot of truck traffic. Over 78,000 vehicles traveled to Points Peninsula every single day, but it's not just right there, the destination. 13,000 trucks are on local roads as well. Who's on these local roads? Kids want to play, seniors, mom's pushing strollers. So, this creates safety issues, traffic congestion, and my God, a lot of air pollution.

So, while the driving force is really the community, and the community is this market, the driving trucks have had a real impact on this neighborhood. It's unfair. It's unfair for parents to worry about their kids playing outside in this environment, that are fearful of the tractor trailers that on the same roads. It's unfair for that essential worker who had a long night, maybe a double shift, wants to go home and get a good night's sleep and just hears a lot of noise. All they want to do is catch up for the next day. And our seniors who want to go out for a walk and any community member who just wants to take that deep breath of air and enjoy it, something we take for granted in other communities, but not here. And truck traffic is the primary culprit for the poor air quality in this area.

In fact, this has been called a pollution hotspot. Now, I know the Bronx is a hotspot, but I don't want it to be a pollution hotspot. It has higher asthma rates than anywhere else in the city, and I will take note that it's not a coincidence that this is a community of color. When we talk about environmental racism, people knew what was going to happen, but there was this benign neglect, not expecting people to stand up and complain. You just have to endure it. Decision makers over many decades have put in place policies that have harmed Black and Brown New Yorkers, and this long practice of redlining and discriminatory practice, uses of these practices have put Hunts Point and neighborhoods like this throughout the city at a structural disadvantage. My friends, that changes today.

Today, we're going to take back our community, take back our air and our sidewalks and our streets, and make sure that everyone who calls this wonderful community home will have a better outcome, a better life because they deserve it. We're going to be making changes. Thank you. We're making necessary changes to our infrastructure, and not just here, but all of New York. Righting the wrongs of the Robert Moses era past. We are doing this all over New York. I talk about the Bronx and I'm talking about money to heal the Black and Brown community of the East Side of Buffalo, where I come from, my neighborhoods. Syracuse - the same, back in the fifties and sixties. They put the highways right through these Black neighborhoods because they knew they didn't have the political clout to stop it, number one. And this was when they're trying to expedite the white flight from the city. And these cities were never the same again until now with my administration, we're going to heal them, bring them back together.

So, I talk about the Cross Bronx Expressway in the same breath as I do other places. Say, “This is what we're going to do, and it is long overdue.” So that's what we're doing here today. $1.7 billion. The Hunts Point Improvement Project creates a direct route. Now, why didn't they think of this before? A direct route to the Hunts Point market. This'll increase safety, reduce air pollution, and it'll help some of the highest asthma rates in our city, in our state. Now, last stock term, we talked about how we completed phase one progress. People starting to say, “This is actually going to happen.” Because there's a lot of cynicism out there.

A lot of people see plans come and go. A lot of talk from politicians for a long time, right? So they're going to say, “Well, show me. Let me see proof you're going to do this.” And I understand that. I really do. Last year, we redesigned the highway network to allow for removing traffic from local streets, reduced truck idling.

But today, I'm proud to announce we're about to reach another milestone: phase two will be completed next month - ahead of schedule and under budget. So, we're moving ahead. We are moving down the road. Phase two, we'll have rehabilitated key sections of the Bruckner Expressway and Bruckner Boulevard to create even more direct routes.

We've widened the roadways and exit ramps to keep cars on the highways and off the streets. Just take a look at these renderings. This is the transformation we're talking about. We've also built a shared use path under the Bruckner Expressway, connecting Garrison Park and Concrete Plant Park, and I love to ride my bike. And we talk about creating safe, healthy activity for kids - that anybody who just wants to get around and avoid the traffic. You can now walk safely, ride your bike safely, and we're going to do that to make sure that our pedestrians and our bike bicyclists get access to this exercise and this, this other means of transportation, their legs.

So, this is not the only way we're trying to bring environmental justice to the Bronx. We have some other good news to share today. We're committing $10 million more to transportation initiatives across the borough to invest in zero emission school buses. So, when kids are standing there waiting for a bus, they're not inhaling all the fumes.

All electric mobility options, electric charging stations are coming to the Bronx in higher numbers because they're trying to get people to do what they can to protect the environment. So, this is going to help us meet our energy goals, 70 percent electricity from renewables by 2030. And as long ago as 2030 once sounded, it's right around the corner.

I will still be alive. It's not that far off. So, these are our goals. This is what we're trying to do. I talk often as your governor about my number one job, which is safety, but I'm not just talking about safety from gun violence, although we're making great progress. I'm also talking about reducing subway crime, working, working on that, making people feel safe.

Once again, helping our small shop owners. We're also trying to protect them. And keep them safe from environmental threats as well. That's why today matters. That's why it's so important for a community that has suffered far too long, I would say, as a result of systemic discrimination because people just didn't care.

And today, we take a critical step to right that wrong once and for all, because this is a new era for New Yorkers. I pledge that this is a new day and people, no matter what their zip code, where they live or where they started life or where they choose to live should have the same shot at a healthy, productive life. Full stop. That is the New York we're going to create. We're doing it right here in the Bronx.

Thank you everybody. Thank you. And with that, let me bring up one of our great champions, my great friend, your Councilmember, Rafael Salamanca.

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