911 recordings highlight traffic ‘nightmare’

Updated
Some of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) allies occasionally try to downplay the significance of the bridge scandal. Sure, the argument goes, the governor’s team, acting in the governor’s name, used their power as a weapon to punish the governor’s constituents, crippling a community for days for reasons we still don’t know. But what’s a little traffic?
 
We’re reminded today this wasn’t just a little traffic.
Newly released 911 and police radio tapes reveal that on the first morning of the controversial George Washington Bridge lane closures last year, officers and emergency responders in Fort Lee were grappling with city-wide traffic gridlock.
 
At 8:52 a.m. on Sept. 9, a dispatcher warned paramedics leaving a hospital about coming to the Bergen County borough.
 
“Fort Lee traffic is a nightmare,” the dispatcher said…. At 9:02 a.m., a police officer was trying to help an ambulance plot ways to avoid inbound traffic.
 
“Do you have a medical unit dispatched?” the officer asked a dispatcher. “The GW Bridge is totally gridlocked.” Four minutes later, another officer complained of heavy traffic.
The above clip is from American Bridge, which created a website called BridgegateTapes.com, where a series of “highlights” from the recordings are now available to the public.
 
Reviewing the materials, I’m reminded that when Christie’s aides decided it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” they were creating a public hazard, on purpose. More from the Star-Ledger report:
Fort Lee’s municipal clerk released the tapes this morning as Gov. Chris Christie’s office continues to deal with the political fallout from the lane closings at the nation’s busiest bridge, which caused a traffic mess for days in the borough. […]
 
Today’s tapes reveal that police were also told last September that the lanes were closed because a traffic study.
 
“They’re testing a new traffic pattern,” the dispatcher told an officer at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 9. “It’s down to one lane.”
Of course, we now know there was no traffic study.
UPDATE: Related video:
The Rachel Maddow Show, 2/28/14, 10:38 PM ET

911 tapes expose human toll of NJ bridge jam

John Reitmeyer, state house reporter for the Bergen Record, talks with Rachel Maddow about the impact of newly released Ft. Lee 911 tapes.

Chris Christie and New Jersey

911 recordings highlight traffic 'nightmare'

Updated