Can You Explain The Chris Christie Bridge Scandal?

Chris Christie bridge

If you’ve been watching the news lately, then you know that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is under a major firestorm. You also know that Christie is considered the top candidate to run for President in 2016 representing the Republican Party which means every move he makes is analyzed very critically.

Here are the details you need to know about this incident courtesy of Mother Jones.

  • As Chris Christie was running for governor in 2013, he ran on a stance that he was bi-partisan. Many other Democratic leaders in cities and towns across New Jersey endorsed Christie but Fort Lee, NJ mayor Mark Sokolich was not one of them.
  • On the week of September 17th, 2013; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shifted toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal put it back in September:

Police and elected officials in Fort Lee, N.J., say they weren’t given warning that the Port Authority planned to reduce the number of local access lanes directly from Fort Lee to the bridge from three to one—causing traffic to back up in the borough—and are still puzzled by the official explanation that the agency was conducting a study of traffic patterns.

  • The delays caused loads of traffic for citizens of Fort Lee trying to head to New York City using the bridge and it also caused school buses to be late on the first day of school.
  • The Port Authority later claimed that they were conducting a “traffic study” and were looking at a possible “new layout for travel lanes leading to the toll plaza.”
  • According to POLITICO, “Democrats have accused Christie of ordering the closures to exact political retribution on Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, for not supporting his gubernatorial reelection.” Christie would later deny these claims in a December press conference.
  • David Wildstein, a former director for the Port Authority and close friend of Christie’s, was subpoenaed to release email exchanges between himself and members of Christie’s administration and campaign teams.
  • In the emails, Christie’s aides mock Fort Lee’s mayor and make fun of the fact that they purposely caused traffic in the city. Wildstein is quoted saying, “Time to cause some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
  • There is nothing which implicates Chris Christie himself or shows that he had knowledge of what was going on. In a statement today, Christie said that today was the first day he’s seen these emails and that they were “unacceptable”.
  • According to the Bergen Record: “Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department.The woman later died, borough records show.