WPCNR THE PRESIDENTIAL VISIT By Peter Katz – Special to WPCNR. Tarrytown, NY- May 14, 2014
President Barack Obama visited Tarrytown on Wednesday to use the aging Tappan Zee Bridge, and the construction work which is underway on a replacement bridge, as the backdrop for a speech pressuring Congress to appropriate funds to rebuild America’s transportation infrastructure.
The event took place at the Washington Irving Boat Club fronting on the Hudson River. It was by invitation only, and Democrat politicians comprised a large segment of some 200 to 300 in attendance.
They included Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congressman Elliot Engel, Mayor Tom Roach of White Plains, Assemblyman David Buchwald, County Legislator Ken Jenkins, and Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner just to name a few. Also seen was Christopher Clouet, who formerly was school superintendent in White Plains and now is superintendent in Tarrytown, where school was dismissed early to help keep traffic down while the President was in town.
A construction supervisor spoke first about how much the bridge project is contributing to the livelihoods of workers like himself, and introduced Governor Andrew Cuomo, mistakenly calling him by his father’s name, Mario. The Governor made a joke about not minding being called Mario, and spoke for a few minutes about the success achieved by his administration is getting the new bridge project underway after years of inactivity. The Governor introduced President Obama.
The President declared, “I want us to be first when it comes to infrastructure around the world, because business are gonna come to where there’s good infrastructure to…move people, move services,” the President said. “First class infrastructure attracts first class jobs,” he continued.
Mr. Obama warned that if Congress doesn’t act by the end of the summer to appropriate needed funds, federal money for highway projects will run out.
“There will be no money; the cupboard will be bare and, all told, nearly 700,000 thousand jobs would be at risk over the next year,” the President warned.
He chastised the Republicans in Congress for offering tax loopholes to the wealthy while killing off investments on projects which will create jobs and help the majority of Americans.
“We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough for Medicare,” the President said. “We’ve got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day…nearly half our people don’t have access to transit at all, and I don’t have to tell you what some of our airports look like,” he continued.
The President announced a plan to accelerate 11 infrastructure projects in cities around the country, and cut as much red tape as possible. He acknowledged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx who was in attendance, and who had warned that the Federal Highway Trust Fund could run out of money in August.
The President had flown in to Kennedy Airport on board Air Force One. Then, he was helicoptered to the former General Motors site on the Hudson River in Tarrytown where a motorcade drove him the short distance to the waterfront location of the speech.
Then, a motorcade took him back to the GM site where he was helicoptered to Manhattan where he was scheduled to attend two Democratic fundraisers tonight and the dedication of the 9/11 museum tomorrow.
His speech ran 17 minutes and he was in Tarrytown for an hour. Spectators gawked at the President’s limousine as it made its way in to the site. Members of the Washington Irving Boat Club, guests of the President, observed below