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Transcript: Secretary Buttigieg Remarks at NYC Penn Station on Infrastructure, Hudson Tunnels

Monday, June 28, 2021

Thank you everybody for joining us. I want to thank Leader Schumer for his advocacy and his leadership on this issue, and so many important issues. I want to thank Senator Booker for his friendship, and each of the members of the House delegations from both sides of the river, have been working non-stop - and I can assure you getting my attention non-stop - on the importance of the Gateway Project.  

When I first spoke to Leader Schumer, after getting this new job, I made two promises to him right away. One that I would make sure to come out here and have a look directly at what was going on in the tunnels, and two that there would be no politically imposed barriers to getting this done. That we were going do the right thing and tear down any unnecessary bureaucracy and work together to make sure that these things could advance.  

I also want to acknowledge some other leaders who are with us, our FTA Administrator, Nuria Fernandez, who we are delighted to have had confirmed recently by the Senate. Our Federal Rail Deputy Administrator Amit Bose, who has been working so hard on this issue and others. 

The entire leadership of Amtrak, the Chairman, the CEO, and the President, all here. We thank you for their heroic work, especially with what COVID did to Amtrak – keeping things going and moving things forward as they envision the Hudson going forward – thanks to everybody and all the essential workers of Amtrak who you lead. We appreciate you. 

And one more acknowledgment I want to make – she couldn't be here today, she's holding down the fort in Washington, but our Deputy Secretary, Polly Trottenberg, a great New Yorker, who's doing phenomenal work, helping to lead the Department of Transportation. 

So I won’t belabor the point, but we just saw in the Hudson River Tunnels, the bridges, and the other parts of what makes up the future Gateway project: critical infrastructure for the United States of America. 

And I do mean for the United States of America. It's vitally important to New York, it's vitally important to New Jersey, it is vitally important to the northeast corridor. But the impacts of this corridor are so great that if there were a loss of service – if one of these tunnels were to go out of service, you would be feeling the economic impact all the way back in Indiana, where I come from. That's how important this is.  

Now, what we saw as the Amtrak president said when we were going through the tunnels, is building techniques and transportation technology representing the absolute state of the art of 1910. It was the best construction that you could possibly get 110 years ago.  

Now it is time to upgrade and secure this infrastructure for the 21st century. We cannot afford to continue relying on investments that were made more than a century ago. And, not less important, it is not getting any cheaper to fix. Each passing year, this will get more expensive.  

And when we were in that tunnel the Leader pointed out a literal light at the end of the tunnel. And we believe that that light is the American Jobs Plan, because we now need the dollars and the resources to get this done. And we'll do as much as we can on a bipartisan basis. 

So, I want to thank everyone here for their leadership, and I want to thank everyone with Amtrak and our own team for working together to get this done. 

Thank you.