April 27, 2017
Albany, NY

Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Announces Grand Opening of the New Kosciuszko Bridge

TOP Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor...

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WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the grand opening of the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge – the first new bridge constructed in New York City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964. The Governor celebrated the opening on the new bridge with Queens and Brooklyn dignitaries and community members. The grand opening included a celebratory march across the brand new bridge, with delegations from both the Queens side and the Brooklyn side meeting in the middle to kick off the celebration. The Governor also drove across the bridge in a ceremonial first ride in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard. The new span will open to traffic in both directions at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

The Kosciuszko Bridge project replaces the existing 78-year-old bridge with two new state-of-the-art cable-stayed bridges – one Queens-bound and one Brooklyn-bound. The original Kosciuszko Bridge first opened in 1939 under President Roosevelt's administration. Additionally, the $555 million Phase I project is the largest single contract the New York State Department of Transportation has ever undertaken – resulting in the construction of the Queens-bound bridge, which includes three lanes of traffic in each direction until the completion of Phase II. The new bridge will benefit approximately 200,000 commuters each day and has a service life of 100 years, ensuring its viability well into the future.

VIDEO of the remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264 format) here.

B-ROLL of the Governor driving President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard is on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264 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.

Good afternoon. What a great afternoon this is isn’t it? First let’s give a big round of applause to Consul General Golubiewski it’s a pleasure to be with you thank you very much for being here. We have our outstanding Madam President from Queens who’s doing a great job, a good friend of mine Melinda Katz, let’s give a big round of applause. A great representative from Brooklyn who’s been a phenomenal assemblyman for many, many years. He’s a role model for all the newcomers to the assembly. He’s a hero of mine, Joe Lentol let’s give him a round of applause. To all the other assemblyman and senators who are here and city council people thank you very much from being with us. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Building a bridge is not easy and it’s not fast and doing it on time, doing it on schedule, doing it on budget, means you have to work at it every day. And we had a phenomenal dedicated team that were not just going to build a bridge, but they were going to get it done right. I want to thank the whole team at DOT, especially Commissioner Driscoll and Phil Eng and Bob Adams, let’s give them a round of applause. I want to thank Kelly Cummings from my office who’s done a great job and Larry Gilman from Skanska and the entire Skanska team let’s give them a round of applause. And the men and women of the building trades union – the best workforce on the globe who built this bridge.

So welcome all to the new Kosciuszko Bridge. Now the old structure, 78-years-old, did its job well but it is structurally and operationally obsolete and it has been for a long time. It was designed for 10,000 cars. We now have about 180,000 cars going over the bridge believe it or not. And as you heard, the delays have been legendary. And the delays have been legendary for a long time.

I’m a native Queen's boy, born and raised. My mother was a Brooklyn girl born and raised. And so I spent my childhood going back and forth across the bridge with our family. The first time I used my father use expletives was on this bridge. Everything was about the timing of the traffic on the bridge and it was literally any time of day. The traffic would back up and it was really a bottleneck for the entire city and caused a lot of inconvenience for a lot of people. This is one of two spans. When the second span is finished, the delays will be reduced 65 percent. Think how much time and fuel is going to be saved. We renamed the new bridge the Tadeusz Kosciuszko bridge, both as a tribute to the man who was as you heard from the Consul General was an extraordinary military leader, an engineer, a friend of America, and inspiration during the Revolution, but we also renamed the bridge in honor of the Polish Community that has made a great contribution to this state and we thank them for all they’ve done to make America, and make New York the state it is.

I drove up in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard. It’s the first time the car has been used in 30 years. And the 1932 Packard is a special car. It is a special car. It has been in the museum all this time. But I brought it today to commemorate today and to bring the spirit of FDR to this bridge. FDR had a tremendous positive energy. And FDR was all about what we can do. He never took no for an answer. He believed in New York, he believed in New Yorkers, he believed in the New York spirt and he believed that there was nothing that we couldn’t do. Remember its New York that built the longest bridge ever built with the Brooklyn Bridge. And then built the longest bridge ever built with the George Washington Bridge. And then built the longest bridge ever built with the Verrazano Bridge. And that spirit is what made New York New York. And that’s the spirit that we have to rekindle in this state. Now we didn’t just build a bridge. We built a beautiful bridge. This is the first cable-stay bridge built in New York. Towers of 180 feet, almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty. We believe that she has an elegant line to her, and as a Queens boy, who is from the outer borough of Queens, Brooklyn is an outer borough – they never tell you what’s the inner borough, but they only tell you what’s the outer borough – I believe that Queens and Brooklyn deserve a beautiful bridge and a bridge that graces the Queens and Brooklyn skyline and that is exactly what this bridge is going to do.

This evening you’re going to see this bridge illuminated with LED lights in a multicolored fashion. It’s the first bridge that’s going to be illuminated that way, but we’re going to be illuminating all the bridges in metropolitan New York the same way. The lights will then be choreographed among the bridges. And we think it’s going to be a really spectacular light exhibition and it will be an international tourist attraction. But we’re going to start it right here on the new Kosciuszko Bridge this evening. And it’s just the beginning. When you look at this bridge and you look at these towers and you look at the success, remember that there is nothing that New York can’t do when put our mind to it. We said we were going to get the 2nd Avenue Subway built and we were going to get it built on time and we did. We said we were going to build a new Tappan Zee bridge and we were going to get it done on time and it’s on time and it’s on budget. We’re building a new John F. Kennedy Airport, a new LaGuardia Airport, a new Penn Station. We’re redoing the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Triborough Bridge –$100 billion in construction. The most ambitious construction program in the history of the state of New York. Why? Because for too long, we have been relying on the legacy of our grandparents. Ask yourself, when was the last time we built a bridge, or a tunnel, or an airport? Ask yourself, when was the last time this nation built a new airport? You haven’t had an airport built in the country in over 20 years. Not since the Denver airport.

If you want to continue to grow, if you want to continue to lead, then you have to continue to build. Because all the other states, all the other cities around the globe are doing it. And what made New York New York was the ambition and the drive that said we can build the first, the biggest, the best. And we’re going to do it over and over and over again. And that’s what this bridge is going to signify. And it is just the beginning my friends. We are going to build a new New York. Because at the end of the day it’s very simple – our fundamental obligation as citizens, as parents, is to leave this place a better place. To use our time on this earth to help other people and to leave the earth a better place. Every religion says that, every philosopher says that. We’re here to better society. And as government officials, I know I speak on behalf of my colleagues in the Assembly, the Senate, and the City Council, when I say, "When we are done, and we turn this state over to our children, it is going to be a better state for our having been here. It’s going to be a stronger New York, a cleaner New York, a fairer New York, a safer New York, than the New York we inherited." That is our trust and our stewardship, as government officials, as citizens, and as parents. And you’re going to be proud of the new New York that we hand off to our children.

Thank you and God bless you.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office