Biden to RPA Assembly: Get Loud About Infrastructure Needs

Former Vice President Joe Biden exhorted attendees at Regional Plan Association’s 27th annual Assembly to become more vocal about the need for modern infrastructure in the tri-state area and across the country. In his keynote address before an audience of nearly 1,000 civic, business and government leaders at the Grand Hyatt in New York, Biden called the state of the country’s infrastructure “a disgrace,” and warned that vital projects such as a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey wouldn’t get built unless more pressure was put on officials in Washington, D.C., to move the plan forward.

Biden was one of many prominent speakers at the Assembly who sounded the alarm about the state of the region’s infrastructure and the institutions charged with overseeing it. RPA Chairman Scott Rechler said that the Port Authority, the agency where he served as vice chair until last year, was no longer structured to meet the demands of the 21st century. Rechler suggested that the PATH train might be better operated by NJ Transit and questioned the need for an independent Port Authority police force. Rohit Aggarwala, the chief strategy officer at Sidewalk Labs, invoked New York’s global peers to urge a reinvention of all the region’s transit agencies. Aggarwala, an RPA board member, is chair of A Region Transformed, a comprehensive plan for the metropolitan region that RPA plans to release this fall.

The daylong conference was opened by RPA President Tom Wright, who discussed the vital role that immigrants play in the metropolitan region’s success. “Even as we grow the region, we need to expand protections for current residents and make sure we plan for the kind of prosperity that doesn't benefit some people by pushing out others, but the kind that benefits everyone,” he said. One cornerstone of the fourth regional plan will be recommendations on how to expand economic opportunity to all the region’s residents.

The plan also will address pressing issues including sea level rise, the topic of a panel discussion at the Assembly that focused on the Meadowlands. Another panel discussion looked at the role of technology in transforming transportation, another key component of the forthcoming plan. Other sessions addressed the specific challenges of trans-Hudson transportation; the role street design plays in improving health, and developing more inclusive planning processes. On the main stage, policy makers debated how best to control the cost of building big infrastructure projects.

Thank you to all our sponsors, supporters and friends, and we look forward to seeing you at the 2018 Assembly.

Assembly Photos: Flickr

Assembly Videos: 

Breakout Session Audio: 

Media Coverage: 

  • Biden: Christie's 'wisdom' creating purgatory for commuters - Associated Press
  • Biden Cites Subway Mess as Example of Region’s Failing Infrastructure - NY1 News
  • Calls for Needed Infrastructure Updates at Regional Plan Association Assembly – NJTV
  • Why a Midtown Power Failure Snarled Your Morning Subway Commute - New York Times
  • Mired in infighting, the Port Authority should shrink, former vice chairman says - Crain’s
  • Joe Biden: Gov. Chris Christie’s ‘Infinite Wisdom’ Creating Purgatory for Commuters - NBC New York
  • Rechler: The Port Authority Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore - Politico New York
  • Biden tries to rally the infrastructure troops - Politico New York
  • New York subway extension to N.J. may not be dead after all - Star-Ledger
  • Biden: ‘Sound the alarm’ on need for transportation upgrades – Newsday
  • Biden: Christie's 'infinite wisdom' hurt commuters - The Record 
  • Biden: America Owes It to New York Area to Fund Hudson River Tunnels - Star-Ledger
  • Port Authority Hits ‘Reset” Button on New Bus Terminal - The Record
  • Port Authority Bus Terminal to Get Total Reset and Other Breaking News from Annual RPA Conference - Architects Newspaper
  • A Call to Shake Up New York and New Jersey’s Anachronistic Transit Agencies - Streetsblog NYC
  • Biden Calls Transportation Infrastructure Underfunding a ‘National Disgrace’ - Bond Buyer