Hoboken and its transit hub should be rebuilt to be more resistant to future storms, Vice President Biden said during a Sunday tour of Sandy damage in New Jersey.
Biden said that it was “absolutely critical” to get Hoboken’s terminal and the whole transit system running. The Hoboken PATH station, which is used by tens of thousands of people every day, has been closed since Sandy's surge overtook it. It's still unclear when it will reopen.
When rebuilding the transit system, “we have to make it much more resilient.” The tunnels to and from New York City, Biden said, average about 100 years old.
“We have to spend much more time and attention to rebuilding the infrastructure of this nation,” Biden said.
After touring the devastated PATH station, where all signals were submerged after severe flooding, Biden addressed members of the press with Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, and U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez. Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Congressman Albio Sires were also present on Sunday afternoon.
“We have to make sure we’re prepared,” Biden said. “I doubt this will be the last perfect storm to hit."
Biden also promised the government’s long term commitment to rebuilding New Jersey in the wake of Sandy’s devastation.
“We’re not backing out,” Biden said. “This state is crucial.”
Biden praised the first responders who worked during and after the storm and praised bipartisanship in all levels of government in rebuilding the region.
“Democrats and Republicans everywhere,” Biden said, “everyone was cooperating. ... Elections are over, we got to get this done.”
The main focus is to make sure all commuters will be able to get to work without trouble. After that, in the coming months and years, the state will have to look at how to improve its overall infrastructure, Biden said.
“We’re going to rebuild New Jersey,” said Guadagno, who had toured the shore with the vice president earlier in the day. “I’m confident it will be done.”
Gov. Chris Christie was not present during Biden's visit on Sunday.
Zimmer, who toured the PATH station with Biden and some residents encouraged everyone to donate to Rebuild Hoboken, a relief fund to help rebuild the town.
“The challenging reality is that government will not be able to cover all of Hoboken’s losses," Zimmer said.
Biden's visit put Hoboken in the national spotlight, a welcome development according to local officials.
"It's tremendous that he takes time out of his busy schedule to visit Hoboken," Fire Chief Richard Blohm said after meeting the vice president.