May 15, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
Bronx, New York—One day after a tragic Amtrak accident in Philadelphia, the United States Congress slashed $250 million in funding for Amtrak while the railroad has been telling Congress that in order to bring the Northeast Corridor just to a state of good repair requires about $50 billion. The Bronx Borough President told LaborPress the U.S. has to invest now.
After honoring labor leaders for the second annual labor breakfast during Bronx Week, Ruben Diaz Jr. said in the accompanying video interview that infrastructure investments such as the upcoming build-out of four Metro-North stations in the Bronx creates jobs, economic opportunity and allows for people to easily get to and from work.
“That’s big. One of my top priorities is in the eastern corridor of our borough where unfortunately for so many decades we have had limited transportation. We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for really stepping up big for us. It’s going to be transformative for the Bronx because we plan on building more density around those areas. People will be able to get to their jobs in Midtown in under 30 minutes or to jobs in Connecticut,” said Diaz Jr.
We asked him for his reaction to the tragic Amtrak accident and then Congress subsequently slashing money for the railroad.
“That’s unfortunate. The House has been held hostage by the Tea Party that cant’ come up with several hundred million dollars for infrastructure. We still have to wait for more information to learn what happened in Philadelphia. But whether it’s in the Bronx, Philadelphia or anywhere else in the country we need to invest in our infrastructure, and we need to support the President’s [Grow America Act] plan,” Diaz Jr. said.
On the construction of a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, both President Obama and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have said they are committed to building a new tunnel. In fact, Peter Rogoff, President Obama’s transportation undersecreatary, said at the Trans-Hudson summit last week in Lower Manhattan that now that the Obama administration is willing to help, the states’ governors have to act. We asked the Borough President would he mention that to Governor Andrew Cuomo at their next meeting.
“We will. He’s always been open. If you look at upstate New York, which is also in dire need of infrastructure resources, Andrew Cuomo has always have been there. I can’t speak for Governor Chris Christie, but certainly I have faith in our governor,” said Diaz Jr.