President Joe Biden (D) came to the New Jersey Transit Meadowlands Maintenance Facility in Kearny this afternoon to tout his $2 trillion infrastructure bills and to announce the Portal Bridge North project will be moving forward.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Today, we’re moving forward on a new bridge that will be higher over the water so it won’t need to open and close, allow us to increase speed, safety and efficiency, and capacity. It’s gonna make life a lot better for New Jersey’s commuters,” Biden said.
“It’s also going to create nearly 8,000 construction jobs in this area alone, this area’s workers. 8,000 union jobs – union,” the president said to applause, adding that he’s been told that he’s used the term “union” more than the last seven president’s combined.
Biden also asserted that, at their core, his infrastructure bills, commonly referred to as the Build Back Better Plan, are about “competitiveness vs. complacency” and “rebuilding the arteries of America.”
The event, which was only open to dignitaries and the press, also saw Biden commend Gov. Phil Murphy (D) for leading the way on issues that are problematic nationally.
“Whether it’s making health care or preschool or college more affordable, providing paid family leave, replacing lead in pipes, and protecting public health: thanks for showing the way, pal.”
While the press conference was policy-based, Murphy has hit the campaign trail with former President Barack Obama (D) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn in the past few days to build a big lead against Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli.
Although polling has shown Murphy ahead the whole time, two polls last week had him up by four and six points, respectively, with more data expected to be released this week.
The Portal Bridge North project is the is part of the $12.3 billion Gateway Project and NJ Transit awarded a $1.6 billion contract to renovate the over a century old bridge last month.
“Aging infrastructure like this is more than an inconvenience or a nuisance: it’s an impediment, an impediment to America’s global competitiveness. We’re in a world wide race: things have changed. Take a look. That’s why what’s happening now is so important,” Biden said.
The president also swiped at former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for cancelling the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, the predecessor to Gateway – which plans to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River and then upgrade the existing one that serves Amtrak and NJ Transit trains.
“Let’s get this done, let’s move. Folks, we have the most talented work force in the world. What are we doing?,” asked Biden.
“It doesn’t increase the deficit one single cent, so let’s get to work, let’s put people to work, and let’s once again re-establish America as the most advanced country in the world. God bless America and God Bless out troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Along with host Mayor Al Santos, several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation were present, including U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-5), Tom Malinowski (D-7), Donald Payne (D-10), Mikie Sherrill (D-11), and Bill Pascrell (D-9), who spoke a few minutes before Biden took the stage.
“We welcome you back to the greatest state in the union,” Pascrell said during his remarks.
“This is no hyperbole: The Portal bridge project will ease millions of lives. Its modernization will provide union jobs and ensure safe and continued growth for generations. New Jerseyans have waited a long time for this day.”
Payne also expressed his enthusiasm for the project in a statement issued a few minutes ago.
“When we complete the new Portal North Bridge, it will make life easier for millions of commuters in New Jersey and throughout the Northeast Corridor. It is a critical project to me because I have been an outspoken advocate for the entire Gateway Program and worked tirelessly to support the new bridge.”