Thursday, January 9, 2014

George Washington BridgeGate: 5 Reasons Iowa Should Seize Control of the George Washington Bridge

If you haven’t heard of BridgeGate, you soon will. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration is in damage control mode after revelations that staffers conspired with a Christie childhood friend and his appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to shut down a couple of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September as political retribution. The lane closures turned Fort Lee, New Jersey, which hosts the bridge on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, into a postcard for gridlock for several days, with public safety, convenience and rationality the clear victims.

Observers charge that the Christie administration’s political high jinx aimed to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who has been sympathetic to Republican Christie in the past, but declined to endorse him in Christie'slatest gubernatorial run.

Given that the George Washington Bridge is a vital cog for tourists, commuters and area residents, and in light of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal yesterday that New York State take control of JFK and La Guardia airports’ redevelopment, which like the George Washington Bridge, is currently the responsibility of the Port Authority, we’ve come up with a sensible solution to fix the woes of the George Washington Bridge.

Let Iowa operate the George Washington Bridge.

Here are five reasons why it would be sensible for Iowa to seize control of the George Washington Bridge.

1. Iowa is not in New Jersey, and its bridge decisions would not be swayed by New Jersey’s legendary political corruption.

2. Iowa wouldn’t have to answer to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is a bloated, do-nothing bureaucracy filled with patronage appointments, when determining the traffic flow over the George Washington Bridge.

3. Christie reportedly sought the Democratic Fort Lee Mayor’s endorsement to show that Christie would appeal to Democratic and Republican voters in what until now seemed like his inevitable quest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Iowa hosts the all-important Iowa presidential caucuses, but hasn't for several years put forward a hometown presidential candidate of its own. Iowa, therefore, could do right by the George Washington Bridge and would be mostly immune to political influence over whether roadways to the bridge would remain open or blocked.

4. Despite New York State’s proposal to usurp the Port Authority's power and assume control of the redevelopment of JFK and La Guardia, we have no confidence that New York State can improve New York airports or the George Washington Bridge. New York, after all is part of the problem as it runs the Port Authority in cooperation with New Jersey. Iowa has 24,000 bridges, and nearly 4,100 of them are the responsibility of the Iowa Department of Transportation so it has a lot of experience in over-water roadways.

5. Iowa needs a real bridge to run, one that is worthy of the Hawkeye State. The George Washington Bridge, it should be pointed out, is not a drawbridge, but we feel confident Iowans would rise to the occasion.