Thoughts on the Christie Jam

as they have evolved over the last few days on Dailykos. See Maddow clip at the end.

Although our family has been making the treck between New Hampshire and Florida once or twice a year since 1977, we now try to avoid the whole section of I 95 from the Carolinas to Massachusetts. Just getting from D.C. to GWB now costs $50 in tolls and numerous irritating stops.

But, in 2010, we attended the Stewart/Colbert Rally in D.C., so heading up I 95 to the GWB was the easiest route to take. What we discovered just west of the bridge was the most outrageous traffic jam. It took us several hours to get to the toll booths and we burnt out the clutch. What made it outrageous wasn’t some stupid accident that tied everything up, but that the signage about ten miles out directing trucks and cars to the right or left for the gates was inconsistent with the gates themselves. So, within about a quarter mile of the gates, all the cars had to shift one way and the trucks the other to accommodate some closed booths, some for electronic passes and some for cash for cars and trucks. Not only was segregating the revenue stream the defining factor, the electronic signage had got it wrong. Evidence of poor management and, apparently, nobody available on a Saturday night to make a correction.
How do I know it was the signage? Because ever since we once got onto Route 80 by accident, I navigate and pay real close attention to the signage to make sure we’re in the correct lane. Following directions into a cluster fuck is really annoying.

It’s not always backed up for miles and miles. Most times, taking the express lane helps because that’s for traffic that’s going on to New England.

Last time through, we noticed that the fee had suddenly increased from $12 to $14 and there was no notice ahead of time on the road to notify drivers.

On the other hand, I don’t know if the Henry Hudson Parkway comes under the jurisdiction of the Authority, but the removal of the toll takers there and the notice that bills would be mailed was equally disconcerting. Not to mention that the promised bill has not arrived, six months later.
While the toll takers at Kapock Street were always unfriendly and I was glad to see them gone, trying to use money to control traffic should be scrapped. At a minimum, the money distracts managers from providing good service.


No, it’s not sad. It is to be expected. People who define “political” as power, lust for power and power, to be felt, has to hurt. So, somebody has got to be hurt. Since it would be counter-productive to hurt one’s supporters, it’s the opposition that has to be attacked.

Doing it symbolically by depriving them of money and, thereby, the necessities of life, is doubly attractive because money leaves no finger prints. Nevertheless, poverty in the richest nation on earth is not a happenstance. It has to be engineered.
For what purpose? Power.

Money is funny. While it leaves no fingerprints, it can be tracked. Wonder what the take is from the toll booths dedicated to Fort Lee. Do the locals pay the fourteen bucks that long distance drivers have to cough up to cross the river?


Deprivation of rights is a fancy way of saying abuse. When there is abuse, there has to be an intervention because the object of abuse is to injure, not kill, and the victim resisting risks additional injury, thereby becoming complicit in his own abuse. The federal system works because when either the federal or state authorities overstep their bounds, the other entity can step in and call a halt.
It isn’t the three branches that curtail power, it’s the federation.
In recent decades, it has been in the states where most abuses of power have occurred and the federal authorities have been lax to interfere, in part because the same abusive pols were being bought off with campaign dollars. Democrats on Capitol Hill did accomplish quite a lot with their window of opportunity in 2008 – 2010. While the ACA, to relieve actual physical abuse, got all the attention, the Consumer Protection Bureau will be more effective in the long run. And that’s why the money men are seething.
I think we have to follow the money in New Jersey.

I think we have forgotten to follow the money. Why was the Port Authority inclined to go along with punishing the locals?
I’ve noted in the pictures of the toll booths that they weren’t shut. Rather, two more booths were made available for long distance drivers. So, the collection from that traffic was made more expeditious.
Are there different rates?


The problem with Christie’s Jam is that it is the proverbial straw.
The revenue generators (toll booths) on the George Washington Bridge have been a clusterfuck for a long time.

Look at this lovely article about how the public is served on this gateway to New York.…

While the cancellation of the rail tunnel into lower Manhattan may have looked to drivers as discomfiting transit riders with whom they have little in common to begin with, purposefully causing a traffic jam on the bridge tells them that the callous attitude is general.
The Port Authority was complicit. The Port Authority regularly screws up. The Port Authority, as far as I can tell, has raised tolls for people who pay cash 50% in the last four years — since 2009, when Google Earth shows the fee was $8.

Fact is that revenues from fees went down in 2012. Fact is, according to the Authority’s annual report, that while interest rates have held steady and interest earned from U.S. bonds has decreased, as a result, the Authority has paid out more because it refinanced its bonds. In other words, when the bond market has been down over all, the Port Authority is someone’s cash cow. Finance, it seems, is a special interest and the public interest can just suck it up.


Yup, follow the money.

As I commented elsewhere:…

OK, these are people who do one thing in order for its opposite to happen. So, what was supposed to happen when the flow from Fort Lee was shut off or severely curtailed? If the pictures are correct, the toll booths stayed open and, presumably, facilitated traffic flowing from elsewhere.
Since revenue from tolls was down (in 2012 they blamed a 5% drop on Hurricane Sandy), despite having increased the cost (over 100% since 2006 for drivers paying cash), then perhaps the “test” was merely to see if they could increase the volume of traffic to generate more revenue.
According to the retiring transportation planning genius,

Lee Goodman, transit ridership from NJ to NY has been increasing steadily. So, both cancelling the train tunnel and discouraging the local commuters, may serve the interests of people who have an interest in maximizing revenue from the enterprise. The World Trade Center continues to gobble dollars.
Christie was engaged in “constituent service.” That’s why he tried to get Cuomo to call off the hounds. It just so happens that the constituents Christie is serving don’t live and drive to work from New Jersey.


Here’s a rendering of some plans.…


The financing for Hudson Lights is being provided by Santander Bank.

Sovereign Bank, founded in 1902 in Pennsylvania, entered the New England market in 1999 when it bought nearly 300 branches from Fleet and BankBoston. A decade and a half later, Sovereign has a new moniker: Santander Bank, taken from the name of the Spanish lender that acquired Sovereign in 2009. Azar expalins why the name change took place, how to say “Santander” and what Rhode Island’s growth outlook is.

The Spanish are coming! Damn.

And the Port Authority is barely seeing a revenue increase from operations despite jacking tolls up fifty percent. In 2011 cars were still $8 cash; now they’re $13 and at night the lower level is electronic only. Cars that drive through without the tag get photographed and sent a bill, supposedly. That system on the Henry Hudson doesn’t work.


The plot thickens.
After doing a cursory review of the Port Authority’s annual financial statement for 2012, I figured there was a money problem. Now it turns out there is also a law suit by AAA, alleging that toll revenues are being used to cover the cost over-run of the Trade Center project.…

A toll increase from $8 to $15 dollars by 2015 was announced in 2011, absent sufficient public input. Now, in addition to everything else, one is tempted to ask how a seven dollar increase over four years squares with a five dollar increase the first year years, leaving just a dollar for each of the two last. Not to mention that such a hefty increase should have anticipated at drop in revenue, as has indeed happened.

Annual report is here…

It’s a hundred and sixty pages, so takes a long time to load and, of course, pdf files are formatted so they are difficult to copy and paste. Talk about hiding things in plain sight.

Genovese said the Port Authority is invoking “attorney-client privilege” to block the disclosure of internal communications with its “clients,” Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It’s also claiming that predecision memos and emails among high-ranking Port Authority officials are protected by the “deliberative process privilege” — better-known as “executive privilege” when invoked by American presidents.

This argument has now, of course, been undermined by the release of communications by Wildstein.


But it is unclear where the other $1.2 billion originally set aside for the tunnel will be going, Robins said, and it is unclear that the Port Authority will have the resources to serve as a matching-fund piggybank again in 2016 when the Transportation Trust Fund again comes up for renewal. Compounding the Port Authority’s fiscal headache in the short term is the fact that toll revenue from its bridges and tunnels has failed to meet expectations in the wake of the toll hikes, Robins said.

Right. So, because there’s not enough money coming in, you screw the public and show them who’s the boss.


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