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baltimoresun.com

Traffic jams not just a NJ thing [Letter]

2:00 PM EST, January 18, 2014

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As I've followed the news about the scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, I am probably not alone in being moved by one of the stories that emerged from the release of emails among his staff. A woman had complained to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that her husband, who had been out of work for more than a year, was 40 minutes late to his first day at a new job because he was caught in the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. I wince thinking about that man watching the minutes tick by and knowing that his chances of making a positive impression on a long sought-after job were diminished. It drives me insane to think that New Jersey public officials deliberately caused the traffic bottleneck and the stories of those affected are endless.

Though they don't make national news like the situation in New Jersey, transportation issues thwart many of this region's residents seeking work.

Transportation is a barrier limiting access to jobs for many Marylanders. Too often, residents of this region complete training programs and find a job opening only to discover that there is no reliable way to commute to the job. This hurts job seekers, employers and is a drag on the region's economy. As far as we know, the bottlenecks and gaps in our transportation system are not the result of someone's nefarious political payback scheme. In some ways, it would be nice to blame our issues on one or two bad guys, like we can in New Jersey, but we know they are the result of decisions we all make.

Even if we stamp out criminal acts, we still need public officials to design and fund transportation systems that efficiently and reliably get people to jobs. So while we are outraged by what allegedly happened in New Jersey, let's save some of our passion for improving transportation here in Maryland.

Brian O'Malley, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance.

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