A chokehold should be put on the practice of strangling traffic

Christie claims he knew nothing of the GWB incident, but did little to prevent future stunts

January 13, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might have known nothing, but those that make up his political DNA—his very own political existence—knew too much.

Christie finally spoke publicly about the congestion apocalypse leading up to the George Washington Bridge late last summer, stating he had no knowledge of the devious plan before, during and shortly after it was carried out. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani came out of hibernation on Jan. 12 and defended Christie, in a back-door kind of way. Giuliani said the presidential hopeful for 2016 better be telling the truth if he wants to continue leading the life of a politician.

“I don’t think he would [take a risk] if there’s any suggestion he knew about this,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

Well, if it is true, if Christie was completely left in the dark about what happened in September on the GWB (and for those of you who have been living under a rock, officials closed lanes leading to the bridge for a week) what this tells me is he has no control over his staff; and when he did learn about who was behind the snarl for the ages then why didn’t he personally deliver the terminations in a timely manner? Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Kelly, was fired when e-mails linked to her inbox surfaced last week. One of them simply said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Apparently, those in Christie's camp were upset that the mayor of Fort Lee did not endorse their boss for re-election.

I would like to believe Christie. I think those like Kelly thought they were holding too much power and did fire off e-mails calling for the traffic-management inferno. I just think more should have been done to send a message to New Jersey politicians that holding the motoring public hostage simply is unacceptable. The road and bridge sector, along with those involved in intelligent transportation solutions, carry a heavy enough burden trying to build, or design, a way out of this growing monster known as traffic congestion in the U.S. Kelly, and a few others tied to this crime, set the crusade of fighting bumper-to-bumper situations back a little bit. What you are telling me here is a deputy chief of staff can tie up traffic for hours if she wants, and it took months before anyone of a higher power did anything about it.

So I am not going to blame Christie directly here, but he is at fault for failing to take a stand for all those who try to make the morning and afternoon commutes a little more desirable. Let it be known.

Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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