A Guide to Chris Christie's Fun Traffic Jam Scandal [UPDATED]

Image via Twitter
Christie deputy chief Bridget Kelly celebrates her 40th birthday, as Christie hovers in the background.

Update, 4:35 p.m.: Christie has issued a statement denying all involvement in the controversy, and pledging to hold his staffers responsible. We've reprinted it in full at the end of this post.

Original post:

If you were on Twitter earlier today, you might have noticed every reporter on the planet hyperventilating and repeating a number of words, chief among them "Chris Christie," "emails," and "traffic."

Oh, Jesus. Traffic? This sounds like one of those Important Civic Stories You Should Care About, a sort of eat-your-vegetables infrastructure deal, more soporific than a pound of Ambien and half your freshman reading list. Who gives a damn about this stuff besides transportation nerds and journalists, the two lowest lifeforms?

In fact, though, you're watching a tremendously entertaining little scandal in progress, featuring the governor of New Jersey, some deeply incriminating emails, and an ex-blogger and former small-town mayor who, with Christie's help, turned into one of the most powerful men at the Port Authority, and then used that position to extract mind-bogglingly petty revenge on his political enemies. It also has Chris Christie's top aides laughing at school buses full of stranded children. Let's get caught up, shall we?

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Look At The (Possibly) New And Shiny Tappan Zee Bridge

The Office of the Governor of New York

At the end of the summer, we reported on the story surrounding Governor Cuomo's ambitions to rip down the Tappan Zee Bridge, the span of cement that connects Rockland and Westchester County, and start from fresh. Last time we checked in, Andrew was furious about the Department of Transportation's denial of federal funding for his project. But much has changed since then: after making room for it in the state budget and filling out environmental impact forms, the Federal Highway Administration signed off on the nearly $5 billion project.

And, now, the fun part: we get to see what the future (or a thin sliver of it above the Bronx) could look like.

You might say that architecture isn't fun, post-modernism is silly, blah, blah, blah. We get it. But, bridges are an essential part of our infrastructure and, whether you're a fan of the City Beautiful movement or not, nice-looking things are, well, nice to look at. So cheer up and check out our (possibly) new and shiny Tappan Zee Bridge.

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Gov. Cuomo's Tappan Zee Bridge to Nowhere Will Get Voted On

A few months back, the Voice reported on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's inability to take no for an answer from the federal government for his ambitions to build a new Tappan Zee bridge just north of New York City. The plan came with a price tag of $5.2 billion (and it still costs that much) but the Obama administration refused to take on $2 billion of that share. Nonetheless, Cuomo was furious.

In an effort to raise the prospects of receiving federal funds, his administration projected a toll hike of $9 to the bridge in anticipation of opening this new Tappan Zee as early as 2017. This would bring the price of crossing the bridge up to $14; a toll that many New Yorkers were not happy with, as demonstrated by Cuomo's immediate move to oppose his own administration's $9 hike soon after.

With payment plans in shambles, it seems as if the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council is ignoring the drama and steamrolling the plan ahead - a vote on the Bridge has been called for this upcoming Monday. Except the vote was announced yesterday... and environmentalist as well as citizen working groups are pissed.
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City Lawmaker: You Need To Be Dead To Have A Bridge Named After You

If you want to have a bridge, tunnel, park, or any other piece of city owned property named after you, there's something you'll need to do in advance: drop dead.

That's if City Councilman Peter Valone has his way, anyway.

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Governor Cuomo's Tappan Zee Bridge to Nowhere

New Yorkers do not take kindly to rejections. It's simply not in our street lexicon so our comprehension when we are deal with one is illogical, frustrated and persistently disobedient. Just watch anyone's reaction after a cabbie says no to taking them from the Village to Astoria at 2am.

As Governor of the Don't-Tell-Me-What-To-Do state, Andrew Cuomo must embody these emotions and somehow manage Albany, all the same time. But, a recent construction controversy and an expensive federal "No" has put his attitude to the test. 

And it's all because of a bridge over the Hudson.

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Woman Who Jumped from Williamsburg Bridge Identified, Expected to Survive

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The Honda Ridgeline, via @quinner250
There's a bit of news to follow up to yesterday's breaking story that a woman had jumped from the Williamsburg Bridge and landed, 20 to 30 feet below, and alive, on the windshield of an NYPD cop's Honda Ridgeline truck parked on Pitt Street. The woman has been identified as Jenna Marie Filippi, 34, of Queens. Yesterday afternoon she was rushed to Bellevue with multiple traumas. She is expected to survive.

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