August 15, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Joins MTA Chair for Ceremonial First Ride on LIRR's New Third Track

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Joins MTA Chair for Ceremonial First Ride on LIRR's New Third Track

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Governor Hochul: "We now have 9.8 miles from Floral Park to Hicksville, and literally, hundreds of thousands of riders every single day are going to benefit from this. So, when you add it all up, it's a third track of improvements to over seven rail bridges, new signal equipment switches, and we're going to have more frequent trips as well... What that means is more people have access to a quicker ride, more frequency and less hassle. And that's what we're here to deliver."

Hochul: "What does it all get down to? Higher quality of life. And that is my number one priority for when we talk about infrastructure projects and what we can do for our communities. Let's give people something back in their lives that they treasure. There's no price tag on it. And what I'm talking about is time...We're helping commuters, we're helping communities. And that's why I'm announcing today the opening of the first section of the Third Track between Floral Park and this Merillon Avenue Station."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by leaders of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on a ceremonial first ride, announced the opening of the first section of the Long Island Rail Road's new Main Line Third Track. Officials rode on a just-opened three-mile stretch of track between Floral Park and Merillon Avenue stations, disembarking at the upgraded New Hyde Park Station.

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:

Wow, how sweet it is. I just had a very fun ride. Just about 30 some years in the making. Finally, we're here to celebrate this tremendous milestone and I want to welcome everyone here this morning - this afternoon. I'm in a different time zone.

First of all, I want to recognize Janno Lieber for his extraordinary leadership during extraordinary times. And he is the right man of our time to be able to help lead us, not just what we got through at the pandemic, but also to ensure that we didn't stop building during that time. We just kept it going and as a result, we're here to today to celebrate the first segment of the LIRR Third Track.

Also Catherine Rinaldi. Catherine is doing an incredible job as the President of the LIRR. This is really important to have a leader who understands the dynamic and brings her lifetime of experience in this field to do an incredible job for us here as well. We also have a number of our senators here. Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator Kevin Thomas. And also from the state legislature, AssemblymemberSolages, Assemblymember Chuck Lavine.

And I understand we have some mayors here. I come out of local government. So, let's give a shout-out to the mayors from Garden City. Mineola, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Westbury. Let's hear it for mayors. Also, Anthony Simon, the General Chairman of SMART, who seems to know every single person we've met along the way here today.

So, thank you for what you do.

And I want to thank the conductor, a woman who's been a conductor for over 24 years. And so, she delivered just an incredible ride for us. What we're talking about here today is a new place, a new time, a new opportunity.

And I'll tell you, I've traveled over 340 some thousand miles as Lieutenant Governor around this state, many on Long Island. And we just have to remind everybody, there are no potholes on this. When you're traveling on this form of transportation, it is smooth. It is nice. You can have conversations, do your work and I just love what this means. Not just for Long Islanders, and Nassau, but all the residents here and the visitors who come here. What it means is more capacity. We have less congestion, something that's really positive and better service overall. And you, those of you who've lived here, maybe you've had a little experience with delays, maybe you had a little bit of a bad experience once in a while, well, this is a chance to give us a whole new opportunity. A new chance to prove ourselves and what we've accomplished here. We've had too many delays with signalization, something we've focused on. And also just bringing quality of life issues, I mean, people need to be connected having Wi-Fi and handicapped accessibility, ADA compliant tracks.

So, this track - you're not going to see many delays. I can't say none. Okay. I'm going to get out there and say, I'm not going to guarantee no delays. There's storms every once in a while and other challenges, but they're going to be far less frequent than anyone has ever experienced on the main line. And we now have 9.8 miles from Floral Park to Hicksville, and literally, hundreds of thousands of riders every single day are going to benefit from this.

So, when you add it all up, it's a third track of improvements to over seven rail bridges, new signal equipment switches, and we're going to have more frequent trips as well, which Janno is going to talk about. We were going to increase, for Hyde Park alone, service is going to increase by 67 percent. That is extraordinary, that is going to be the opportunity for the whole railroad overall to increase this year. You have the numbers, Janno, but from over 600 trains - over 900 trains. That's unbelievable. To go to that higher level of capacity. What that means is more people have access to a quicker ride, more frequency and less hassle. And that's what we're here to deliver. Also, as I mentioned, we're having Wi-Fi, USB charging stations, new shelters and benches, these stations look beautiful. Longer platforms so you don't have to change cars to exit, more bike tracks, more commuter parking, all these taking into consideration the very human needs of our commuters. That's what we're responding to: treating our residents, our citizens as real customers. A business is respectful and meets the needs of their costumers. The residents who travel on this are our customers. And it's also not just the traveling public, that benefits from these projects. It's also the communities, the adjoining communities are being transformed.

And this is long overdue. They've worked in such a close partnership. I was speaking to Assemblymember Solages, and Senator Kaplan, to talk about the engagement of the local communities in this process. I spent 14 years in local government. Whenever our transportation agencies or the DOT had a project, they operated in a vacuum. They didn't care what the locals thought a long time ago. Well, we have changed that at every single level, the community's voices need to be heard, respected, address their concerns. And that is why there is such support for this from the neighboring communities as well. So we're proud of that as well.

We've also had many environmental controls in place throughout the construction, to minimize noise and dust and all the things that people would worry about. So, there are minimal disruptions to the community, making sure there are retaining walls that allow this track to be placed on existing right-of-ways. And then eliminate the need for any residential disruptions or dislocations. We eliminated eight street-level crossings. I came out and saw one. I'll have Janno tell you about my experience there. I think I did a good job. I did a good job. I did a good job, but you know, we don't have to deal with the local jams, the backups or even tragic accidents that have happened.

We've had over six fatal collisions at grade crossings on the LIRR over the main line over a 10-year period. And in my book that is far too many families that are devastated by that tragedy. That's what we're in the business of preventing as well. So better transit, less traffic, less noise.

What does is it all get down to? Higher quality of life. And that is my number one priority for when we talk about infrastructure projects and what we can do for our communities. Let's give people something back in their lives that they treasure. There's no price tag on it. And what I'm talking about is time. If you can have more time with your children at the start of a day, you're packing up your lunches, making sure they've got their homework packed, or at the end of the day, when you're coming home, you have more time because of all the connections we're talking about now. And Janno is going to go through some of that, but we've been working tirelessly at hyper speed to accomplish these projects that have been talked about for a long time because people want change. They want to know that their government officials and their transportation leaders are actually listening to them and trying to better their lives. It's that simple.

So, we're helping commuters, we're helping communities. And that's why I'm announcing today the opening of the first section of the Third Track between Floral Park and this Merillon Avenue Station. I want to thank everyone who's been involved in this: the community members, the stakeholders, and the men and women of labor, to John Durso and Anthony and all these others who represent the great workers here. Well, you did this in an extraordinary way. And also, you delivered this project. And I - first time I think I introduced you at something Janno, I said, this is the guy who I call on time and under budget. And he did not disappoint me this time, either. We're under budget by over $100 million. That is worth applauding. And we're not just on schedule, we're ahead of schedule. So, now I'm not going to call you on time on budget anymore, I'm going to expect you to exceed all of my expectations. And of course, it's the men and women of labor who made that happen.

So, what are we doing next? As I said, we're ahead of schedule. The second segment will be completed at the end of August, third segment, the beginning of October. And we've been working on this since I became governor intensely. But even as I said, as I was out here for many the milestones as Lieutenant Governor, so we're going to get that done.

And with that, we're spending over $17.7 billion on 100 projects to transform and modernize the LIRR. I don't think there's anybody who years ago, would've thought that was possible. That we'd have that sustained commitment to getting the job done. And under my administration, we're going to continue.

This is what we're committed to. This is what my administration is committed to delivering, and we're just warming up. The opportunities that we see using infrastructure, connections, transportation, and trains to better the lives of all New Yorkers and all Long Islanders.

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