A woman who was caught in a four-hour traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J., last September during the four-day period the media has dubbed “Bridge-Gate” said she suffered from a panic attack from being stuck in one place for so long.
Twelve years, I suffered a panic attack, too. The reason: trying to drive through Fort Lee’s maze of one-way streets in a vain attempt to make a 10 a.m. appointment.
Bridget Kelly was wrong to commit an act of political revenge by blocking Fort Lee’s access to the George Washington Bridge. But she didn’t create Fort Lee’s traffic woes. The town’s traffic woes are of its own design and creation.
On that day, back in 2001, I was trying to find an insurance agent’s office, and I was also trying to locate Fort Lee National Park, overlooking the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River. Because of Fort Lee’s one-way street navigation, let us say I wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time, or perhaps the wrong place at the right and was witness to something rather disturbing one week prior to the September 11th attacks.
Fort Lee’s (mostly) one-way street layout has no place in 21st Century traffic design, especially at such a busy juncture as the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest and congested traffic bridge. The GWB connects a number of major highways – the N.J. Turnpike, Route 80, Route 46, and Route 4 – to New York State’s Routes 9, the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Major Deegan, the West Side Highway, the New England Throughway, and out to the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges which lead to Long Island.
So put away your violins for Fort Lee’s traffic headaches. Bridget Kelly and Chris Christie’s flunkies in the Port Authority may have contributed, deliberately, to Fort Lee’s traffic jam.
Christie & Company are culpable in playing political games. But Fort Lee designed their own mess. Their mayor’s request for a traffic study (and he did request one; perhaps the local media have conveniently forgotten) and demand for additional lanes onto the bridge should have been the first clue in this mess.
Fort Lee is, by all definitions, a panic. There should be a caution on Fort Lee’s welcome sign: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here without a GPS.”