“I probably wouldn’t know a traffic study if I tripped over it.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie clearly doesn’t know what a traffic study is, but in all fairness, who does — other than the occasional urban-studies student or municipal employee? But a supposed traffic study is at the center of a controversy that has engulfed the Republican governor’s office.
In September, the Port Authority closed down two of the three upper-level toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey. The closures caused massive traffic jams, even slowing an emergency response for a woman who would later die. The aftermath of this controversy has left one of the governor’s top aides without a job and threatens the possible presidential prospects for the straight-talking state executive.
But what is a traffic study?
It’s actually a common tool used by municipal governments considering new developments near major roads.
Before construction begins on a new road, traffic signal, or turn lane, transportation officials want to see the impact that construction would have on local traffic and what sort of demands would come from it.
So, officials close down certain roads or lanes to see how much congestion builds up and observe what other roads — usually not used for through-traffic — people take to get around the blockage. The data that officials gain through observing the traffic jams will give municipalities enough information to justify certain land use and prepare for the eventual construction.
Generally, a road that would require a traffic study is one with “100 newly generated vehicle trips in the peak direction (inbound or outbound) during the site peak traffic,” according to guidelines from the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
Eventually, the impact study will outline how much traffic exists during peak times, which roads vehicles utilize, and what adjustments need to be made in surrounding roadways.
In this case, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was the administrative body that supposedly conducted the traffic study. However, officials say they doubt such a study existed. Christie is leaving the door open: “There may still have been a traffic study.”
It’s unclear what construction project would have required such a study. If he wants to investigate this further, hopefully Christie now knows what he’s looking for.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."