Here’s one interesting fact that’s emerged in the Bridgegate documents released today: The first plans drawn up for changing the traffic pattern at the George Washington Bridge toll plaza contemplated reducing the number of local access lanes from three to two — not to the single lane that was ultimately implemented.
That little overreach turned a petty act of political retribution into a national scandal.
Taking away one of Fort Lee’s toll lanes would have worsened traffic in the city, and sped traffic arriving on Interstate 95 by adding one extra toll lane for highway drivers. But it likely would not have led to the four-hour traffic nightmare that inspired editors at the Wall Street Journal and the Bergen Record to figure out what the hell was going on.
Here’s the timeline:
- August 13: Bridget Kelly, Chris Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, emailed David Wildstein, Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
- August 28: Port Authority Chief Engineer Peter Zipf emailed Wildstein: “As requested,” he attached a plan for reducing the rush hour toll lane allotment for Fort Lee from three lanes to two. “One additional scenario could be a merge down to one lane, if needed,” he added.
- August 29: Zipf provided a modified plan for Wildstein, including an option taking Fort Lee down to a single toll lane, “as discussed.”
- September 6: Darcy Licorish of the Port Authority Police Department sent an email indicating that Wildstein had instructed Robert Durando, General Manager of the George Washington Bridge, to implement the one-lane plan.
- September 9: Traffic hell in Fort Lee.
The lesson: Be measured in your retribution!