Port Authority Head To Attend Public Meeting Over Easter Traffic Jam

S.I. Councilman: Heads Should Roll For Sunday's Disaster

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers from Staten Island remain outraged at the decision to have just one cash lane open at two toll bridges to New Jersey, which created massive traffic backups on Easter.

The ride over the Goethals Bridge should take only a few minutes, particularly with E-ZPass, but drivers said they were stuck in a traffic jam for up to seven hours Sunday.

Councilman James Oddo was and still is demanding answers after this weekend’s traffic error.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see anyone hurt but I want to see heads roll,” Oddo said.

The Port Authority Will Face The Music At A Public Meeting Next Monday. 1010 WINS’ Al Jones Reports.

The traffic jam stretched from Route 440 to the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike and lasted all day.

Sources told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer that the problem was caused by what they call a “disconnect” between the Port Authority’s administrative office and the operations command. Budget cuts caused them to lay off lots of toll takers but they never replaced them.

“Who made this decision and when you see that the backup is halfway to Mexico, isn’t there a red phone that you can pick up and say ‘We have a problem, this has to be addressed?’ This wasn’t an hour. It wasn’t two hours. It wasn’t rush hour. It was an all-day event. This is filed under ‘galactically stupid’,” Oddo said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb With Staten Island Councilman James Oddo

Councilman Oddo said he has received hundreds of e-mails from furious constituents who said that on each bridge only one cash toll booth was manned, jamming up not only the cash lines but E-ZPass as well.

“I left Hazlet, N.J. at 7:30 p.m. and I got home at 1:30 in the morning,” wrote a constituent who lives in the Huguenot section and was travelling with her 78-year-old father.

“It was a total disgrace. When my father got out of the car after travelling for six and a half hours his legs were shaking and he couldn’t walk. I thought it was a threat of some kind, but instead it was one person working.”

Those caught up in the traffic jam on the Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing were still fuming two days later.

“That’s horrible,” one driver said Tuesday. “That’s horrible, I mean I understand that it’s a holiday and it’s a skeleton crew but they should have more people on.”

“I didn’t know that was the reason but that sounds kinda dumb,” another driver said.

“At some point doesn’t someone in management say, ‘We’ve got cars queued up halfway to the Mason-Dixon Line, we have to do something’?” Oddo said.

The Port Authority fired off a letter, saying “The problem had to be with scheduling, and it seemed that someone decided that the best thing to do would be to schedule less than the optimum number of toll collectors and hope for the best. It seems to be another example of the Forgotten Borough syndrome rearing its head.”

The agency also publicly apologized for the incident in a statement, saying “We value our customers and have immediately begun working to address the cause of [Sunday’s] backup.”

Oddo said the problem isn’t a new one, but was made worse by the holiday.

“Apparently they have laid off a number of toll collectors. OK, well laying them off and not having a plan after that is not a strategy,” he said.

The Port Authority’s head will attend a public meeting next Monday to explain what went wrong. Officials want to make sure there are no repeat delays on the next big family holiday, Mother’s Day, in less than two weeks.

Is Staten Island really a “forgotten borough?” Leave a comment below…

  • Auburn Dale

    Nobody here gets it. The Port Authority did everybody a favor by NOT using Staten Island tax dollars to pay for overtime, yet all you do is complain about it.

  • Josephine

    Budget cuts caused them to lay off lots of toll takers but they never replaced them.


    • doris

      you’re exactly right josephine. it’s more like promotions and they never replaced them. my cousin knows someone who is a toll collector and the operations manager knew it was going to happen and she was gloating like a kid. she didn’t care about staten island patrons or the fact that her staff would take the heat from the public while she hides behind her desk.

  • alvin c

    if it wasnt 4 greed unions…

    • injun93


  • Alan

    Folks, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to transition to ALL ELECTRONIC TOLLING in the next year or so. That means, either you will be tolled via E-ZPass or via license plate photograph, all at highway speed. There won’t be any more booths.

    This is the way it is done now in Colorado on the E-470 Highway around Denver and on Florida’s Turnpike in the Miami region. ALL ELECTRONIC, no CASH collection. They’ve put out preliminary studies on how to go about doing this at the NY-NJ crossings.

    • injun93


  • injun93


  • joe for mayor

    they should make all tolls free on a weekend and stop raising the fare if you have less people working in the lanes you own airports and make enough money

  • 2nd chances

    give the guy that did this another chance everyone makes mistakes.

  • Howie Sprague

    The Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J. should be abolished. It’s inefficient, very expensive to run and in some instances duplicates services (in an abysmal fashion) that are better provided by State or local agencies.

    • dico j.

      Howard Sprague….He was the county clerk of Mayberry..No traffic there.

  • EZ Pass No Likey Cash

    Why do idiots still pay cash for tolls?

    • sandbagger

      They don’t want the gubamint following them (even though 480 photographs are taken of their car when they go through a toll booth anyway) and they don’t trust the gubamint with their credit card (but they have no problem handing over their car to offshore gambling and erotica sights). Mainly they’re just stupid.

  • Ginny

    This is a horror that we all deal with all to often. How sad for elderly and people with health issues to be stuck in that mess.. At some point someone should make the call – turn off all the tolls and just let everyone drive through. For god’s sake it’s a holiday. What was the timeline of this traffic jam? This article is not clear and left out details.

  • Hobo Joe

    Ya i always forget staten island or its the last bourough i think about because there is nothing special about it its just houses i mean there is really nothing there

  • NJ Rules

    Fix the problem by destroying all the Bridges between New Jersey and Trash Island. The Trash should stay on their island!!!!!

  • Leon

    Apologies alone won’t cut it! They should refund or cancel the charges on the EZpass accounts that were used and refund money to anyone that has a paid receipt for the trip

  • Barb

    It took me four hours to go from Old Bridge, NJ to Brooklyn. There were several points, especially coming off the Driscoll Bridge, where they would not have been able to get help, either medical or fire, to anyone who needed it . I’m glad no car overheated and went on fire.
    So, we could talk all we want on this site – but does anyone know a name or email address to write to? I may have to try the governors of both states.

  • kds

    NYC is such a dump!

    • Hobo Joe

      NYC IS THE GREATEST CITY ON EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lynne P

    We were returning from South Carolina and breezed through 4 states faster than our trip over this bridge. The kids were crying…people peeing in cups…it was a NIGHTMARE!!! Someone should be accountable. We were held hostage by a bunch of STUPID JERKS. I even wrote an e-mail to the Governor with no response. I hope it happens to them.

  • in mute nostral agony

    his head on a pike..only in new york titty..where you can tastes the foam..

  • jim

    i demand a refund. anyone who used those bridges sbould get refunded that day. we are getting sucked dry with gas prices and than sit in traffic for hours because P.A. wont payout holiday or overtime pay. Well NY is getting too rich on our hard working dollars. how about compensation Mayor Bloomberg. instead of nickle and diming us for every little thing. show face now

  • Auburn Dale

    Staten Islanders are such ingrates. The PA made sure NOT to spend Staten Island tax dollars on overtime, and now they all complain about it.

  • Brooklyn McDirtyshoes

    I don’t know if anyone noticed the misquote, but I seriously doubt the Port Authority used the term “Forgotten Borough Syndrome” in their official letter.

  • jerseyjoey

    This is what tax money funds, LOL whats the matta late to grannies house.

  • keely smith

    and no one had the balls to just drive thru?

  • Phil Mahcrack

    Who gives a flying turtle’s butt?

    • sickofthePA

      if you were not there keep you comments to yourself

      • Phil Mahcrack

        Bite me bozo!

  • cash customer by choice

    There was an alternate available on sunday….to get to brooklyn
    Take the turnpike up to the Holland Tunnel, use exit 14C
    They had 4 cash lanes at 10:30, someone was paying attention to traffic
    It was backed up, but moving……….until the tunnel
    Maybe the turnpike should help the tunnels and bridges

  • Richard K

    My wife and I were stuck in this traffic mess. Worst traffic nightmare we have experienced in over 40 years of driving. The reponsible managers should ALL be fired. The PA should compensate all drivers who used the bridges on Sunday. EZPass holders should be given credit. This is another example of a state agency with too many managers on the payroll, who just dont care about us taxpayers, wastes taxpayers money, and charge excessive tolls. It will be a long time before we travel to New Jersey again

    • Auburn Dale

      But at least they didn’t spend STATEN ISLAND tax dollars on overtime!

  • Flynn

    Oooh goody, brilliant solution “Oh Knowledgeable one.”

    I bet you make everyone else drive to you for holidays, don’t you?

  • Sal

    Was it the Goethals Bridge or the Outerbridge? The articles states Goethals, the picture shows Outer? Does 1010 WINS really care?

    • Flynn

      Really, you’re going to nitpick over a picture? Maybe they’re using a stock photo of traffic.

      • Sal

        Well, which bridge was it? Nitpick, there is a difference between the two bridges. The article states Goethals, the roads affected are leadups to teh Outer. If this was so important, you would think 1010 would get the story correct.

      • Anita Hannjob

        Oh, OK Sal. Since the picture is wrong, I guess that means it really didn’t happen. Because after all….what’s REALLY important here is getting the picture right instead of fixing the problem. Gee…I wish I lived in your world.

    • shawn s

      i came home from AC and braved that horrible fog on the garden state pkwy with no lights and missed the exit for 440 north. Wound up taking the turnpike and when i approached the gothels the line was not moving. pulled a U-turn and got right back on the turnpike and took the tunnel into the city and to the LIE. Worse than any nightmare Ive ever had. Between the backups at every crossing and the fog.

    • Paula

      did you read the article it was both bridges.

  • CantStandDrivinginNY

    These ridiculous delays alway happen on beautiiful days when you want to go somewhere nice or on a holiday.

  • Barre Flynn

    Where is this going… No where. The damage is done, PA made tons of money. What do you think can be done? Just make sure on Memorial day and 4th of July when many non-easy pass patrons travel there are extra cash lanes not less. Shame on the PA and what a bad response from them

    • Refund EZ Pass drivers that day

      Barre, its call improving the process. Without these demands for answer, how do you think they will learn to improve their processes and operations. In private sector, when things go wrong, steps are taken and implemented to prevent furture recurring issues. This isn’t the first Easter holiday or first major holiday ever that the PA has no knowledge on expected traffic density. This kind of delay not only cost in the hundreds of thousands of $$ on fuel, wear and tear of stop/go traffic, lost time, and unnecessary pollution of idling car. PA should reimburse everyone’s EZ pass on that day since they do have have records of those cars on that day. That’s the LEAST they can do. Their goof have caused tax paying drivers a lot of money. Have some accountability!

      • Seymore

        yeah right, and the Easter Bunny came hopping at your door. The least they will do is nothing and count on it

  • Steven

    If backups are this bad, the port authority needs to open the bridge up and let drivers cross for free. These bridges have been paid for over and over again.

  • Fire the Supervisor!

    Someone should be fired for this. Incompetency at its worse.

    • doris

      i agree. finally someone who knows where the real problem lies!

  • Steve

    Doesn’t matter if you have EZ Pass or not– if the back up for cash lanes is so great, EZ Pass holders can’t get to the toll booth any quicker. This is just a case of public employees saying they were not going to come in, and I dare you to do something about it.

  • Bell Toller

    It seems that they want everyone to get EZ-Pass. 2 toll collectors should have been on duty.

    Yes there was huge backup delays which wasnt right.

    • seymore

      That should tell you to stay away from New York…well at least Staten Island…..they do not care – one moment of your pain

  • T Sturniolo

    It should be a requirement to have ezpass if you drive. Get the cash paying drivers off the roads!

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