The negative publicity from Bridgegate — the alleged rearranging the cones so four lanes of traffic was funneled into one toll booth during the rush hour for four days in September for a traffic study — is descending on our distinguished governor of the great state of New Jersey like confetti and balloons at a nominating convention. He is being portrayed as a vindictive bully who would stoop to payback against his enemies. In other words, acting like a successful New Jersey politician.
After months of denying that his administration would play such a mean low down trick on the Mayor of Fort Lee, our mortified outraged, humiliated, embarrassed, blindsided Governor testified for 108 minutes on TV today, clearing the air by taking the standard “Is no my fault” defense. It was only done by the people he hired and trusted, his closest advisers. Who would know they wouldn’t understand: He’s not that kind of guy any more.
But what I’m still curious about is the traffic study the distinguished Port Authority officials instituted in the name of testing traffic safety patterns. Ignored in the rush to kick a fat man when he is down are the results of the study.
Traffic is a science with many variables, largely untested. What would happen, for example, if all traffic would be banned from using the bridge? It would last longer, need fewer costly repairs, probably. But that is anecdotal, a possible theory that needed further testing.
What is known is that traffic on the GWB — or the George W. Bush Bridge as Republicans like to think of it — is always bad. On a normal weekday morning, even without lane and tollbooth pattern revisions, traffic is backed up all the way to Wilkes-Barre.
Inquiring minds at the Port Authority science department might have posited the question: what would happen if four busiest lanes were forced into one tollbooth for four days. (Sept 9-13)?
It was found conclusively, beyond reasonable doubt, that a traffic jam would take place. It turned the whole Democratic town of Fort Lee into a parking lot.
Ipso facto, the controversial much maligned, long over-due traffic study can be judged a success. It took courage for the traffic safety scientists and the political hacks serving on the Port Authority’s board of governors to conduct the study. Or so a beleaguered governor could argue, once he stops being mortified and outraged.
In a fair, less politicized environment, such a study would need no defense. It opens up whole new areas of bridge science. What, for example, might happen if civil defense authorities warn the public about an impending natural disaster: the island of Manhattan is on the verge of subsiding due to the aggregate weight of concrete being poured during the Bloomberg Administration.
That may seem far-fetched, but I lived through the nuclear age when civil authorities were urging citizens have an escape route should the 1960’s cold war break out.
Today there might be additional traffic problems at the GWB, if tollbooths were privatized under a Christie Republican administration. In times of emergency, smart entrepreneurs would risk their own safety by staying on duty so they could collect tariffs based on the railroad’s old all-the-traffic-can-bear formula.
Now I realize some people will say I am coming to the governor’s defense because I am a Registered Republican and chairman of The Christie for President in 2016 Committee. As I explained in the 2012 campaign when I played a major role in putting a fat man in the White House, it was the only way we can get him out of our state.
And while various state and federal legislative bodies are investigating Bridgegate, I have a further suggestion. Why not take a closer look at the way the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been mishandling bridge finances. The GWB was completed in 1931 with tolls (50 cents per car) levied to pay off construction bonds, which would mature serially in 1953. It was widely assumed, after paying off the bondholders, tolls, would be reduced, and even eliminated. Instead they are now $13 and rising. It is argued the money is needed for real estate boondoggles like the Freedom Tower. The whole GWB caper smells like a “Soprano” operation.
Jan. 9, 2014