BAF IN THE NEWS
Bloomberg BNA: Construction Industry Wants Answers From Clinton, Trump
For instance, a 34-member coalition of business groups and unions Oct. 5 sent a letter to the Clinton and Trump campaigns, praising them for each supporting “dramatic increases” in infrastructure investment. The letter also asked how each campaign would go about making the Highway Trust Fund, which supports highway and transit programs, permanently solvent. The coalition includes groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the National Electrical Contractors Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers’ International Union of North America and Building America’s Future.
Associated Press: Attacks on the Internet Keep Getting Bigger and Nastier
Could millions of connected cameras, thermostats and kids' toys bring the internet to its knees? It's beginning to look that way.
Los Angeles Daily News: Why everyone wants to join the transportation tax bandwagon across California, US
Nearly one-third of California’s 58 counties will ask voters to approve transportation taxes this November, part of a record-setting number of measures appearing on ballots across the nation.
Wall Street Journal: Election Raises Hopes for Infrastructure Outlays—Whoever Wins (full article follows Morning Transportation)
The prospect of increased U.S. government spending is tantalizing investors who see such outlays as critical to revitalizing economic growth and ending the era of ultralow interest rates, while frustrating others who fear efforts won’t go far enough.
Miami Herald: Clinton’s infrastructure policy can succeed
As we head into the final stretch of the presidential race, it is paramount we shift our focus where it belongs: policy.
Fast CoExist: America’s Infrastructure Is Crumbling—Here’s How We Can Save It Now
Everyone agrees that America's roads, bridges, railways, and dams aren't up to 21st-century standards. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure an overall D+ grade (admonishing us like naughty school kids). Evidence of decay is all around: From New Jersey's bridges (1 in 11 of which are "structurally deficient") to Flint's poisonous water system, there's an awful lot that needs repairing or replacing.
Washington Post: Many wonder why Metro would float idea for station closures if proposal wasn’t ‘real’
Metro officials say a map of potential service cuts that appeared to disproportionately target communities of color was never a serious proposal. So why release it in the first place?
Washington Post: Metro riders like the cure, but aren’t sure about the medicine
Kurt Gregory Erickson, the public face of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, which struggles to get drunk drivers off the streets, begged the Metro board to back away from permanently curtailing late-night service on weekends.
CBS 19 (Virginia): Transportation board votes for bridge-tunnel expansion
A regional transportation board in Virginia's Tidewater region has recommended expanding the congestion-plagued Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
WTOP (Washington DC): Transportation director says Metro midnight closure a ‘setback’ for DC
D.C. leaders are concerned about the ramifications for residents and the area’s economy if Metro goes forward with the idea of closing at midnight permanently.
Washington Post: In era of apps and automation, D.C. and 16 other cities partner to test approaches to tech
The District and 16 other U.S. cities have partnered with a local transportation group and Google’s Sidewalk Labs to figure out how best to tap technology to get people around more smoothly — and to help tune up communities in the process.
By Brianna Gurciullo | 10/24/2016 05:40 AM EDT
With help from Lauren Gardner, Tanya Snyder and Conor Skelding
NTSB INVESTIGATING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TOUR BUS CRASH: NTSB has deployed a "Go Team" to Desert Hot Springs, Calif. after a tour bus slammed into the back of a semi-truck early Sunday, leaving 13 people dead and 31 injured. Maintenance workers were slowing down traffic on Interstate 10 when the accident occurred, The Associated Press reports . An official said the bus, which was transporting 44 people, was traveling considerably faster than the semi-truck and smashed about 15 feet into the trailer. It was returning to Los Angeles after making a trip to a casino in Thermal, Calif.
Highway patrol is 'looking at everything': The bus driver, who died in the crash, was one of the owners of a company based in Los Angeles called USA Holiday, The Desert Sun reports . California Highway Patrol Chief Jim Abele said it's not yet known whether fatigue, drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, the Sun reports. "Right now we're looking at everything," Abele said. "We may not determine how the accident occurred because the driver was killed." He said the bus had been inspected in 2014, 2015 and this year, with no mechanical problems discovered. The 1966 bus probably didn't have a black box.
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A WEEK OF MARITIME DEALMAKING: The International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee starts its week-long summit today in London. The MEPC is working on a new cap on sulfur emissions — part of a broader meeting that also touches on everything from efficient ship design to data sharing, our colleagues at Pro Morning Transportreport . Delegates from the 171 member countries will decide whether to bring in a new cap on sulfur emissions from 2020, or whether to push it back to 2025. Shipping emits around 1 billion tons of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But according to the IMO, that could rise 250 percent by 2050.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
Tuesday — The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative begins a three-day general meeting. The FAA starts three days of Aeronautical Charting Forum meetings. The Surface Transportation Board holds a public roundtable for economists to discuss a study called "An Examination of the STB's Approach to Freight Rail Rate Regulation and Options for Simplification."
Wednesday — The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform holds its annual Legal Reform Summit. The Automotive Recyclers Association begins its four-day convention and exposition. Securing America's Future Energy holds a discussion on "How Washington Can Enable the Autonomous Vehicle Industry." The American Enterprise Institute holds a discussion during which R. Richard Geddes, visiting scholar, will release his report on infrastructure funding.
Thursday — The Towing Safety Advisory Committee holds a meeting. NTSB and the National Safety Council hold an event called "Reaching Zero Crashes: A Dialogue on the Role of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems." The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Boston University hold a discussion on "How Research and Innovation Can Help Address the U.S. Infrastructure Crises." The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Transportation Research Board holds awebinar on rear seat passenger safety. The Japan International Transport Institute holds a seminar on new daytime services between Haneda and U.S. cities. The Maryland Aviation Administration and FAA hold an open house to address noise complaints from people living around BWI.
AMTRAK BANS GALAXY NOTE 7 DEVICES: Amtrak is now prohibiting Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones on its property — including trains, stations and platforms, our Lauren Gardner reports for Pros. "As with any prohibited item on Amtrak, if customers attempt to travel by train with their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices, they will be denied boarding/asked to leave or asked to depart the train at the next stop," Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said Friday. Earlier this month, DOT banned the phones from commercial flights to, from or within the United States following reports that their batteries can catch fire.
ICYMI: A Metrorail train almost hit two federal inspectors Thursday while they were examining track conditions near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Lauren reports. The train "failed to slow or stop, forcing two FTA inspectors to jump out of harm's way," FTA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. The train was "exceeding temporary speed restrictions," which were in effect to protect track workers. Taubenkibel did not say how fast the train was going.
HOUSE OVERSIGHT QUESTIONS GSA ABOUT VEHICLES: House Oversight Committee leaders want GSA to make sure that federal employees aren't driving vehicles with open recalls. In a letter sent late last week to GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth, the committee's bipartisan leadership also say "it is unclear whether purchasers of federal vehicles are directly informed of open safety recalls," citing an investigative report by Circa. Finally, the lawmakers ask for the "agency's views on requiring that all federal vehicles subject to open safety recalls be repaired before they are sold or auctioned to the public." As our Tanya Snyderreports for Pros, they request that the agency give them a list of GSA vehicles under recall, a list of vehicles it has auctioned off since January 2014 and a sample of disclosure forms it gives to buyers, among other documents.
Earlier last week, a group of House Democrats asked GSA to stop auctioning off vehicles subject to recall until their safety problems have been fixed. "Today, it is legal to sell a used car with an open recall. We are fighting to change that," the lawmakerswrote. "In the meantime, our federal government should hold itself to a higher standard."
HOW DRIVERLESS CARS COULD BOOST TRANSIT: A shared fleet of autonomous vehicles could reduce the need for surface parking, said Daniel Doctoroff, chairman and CEO of Sidewalk Labs, during a talk Friday at Volpe's headquarters. Less parking would free up land for green space and more affordable housing, "enticing more people back to the city," Doctoroff said. "These shifts [will] generate more revenue for services like transit systems — reducing, hopefully, commute times and expanding job opportunities."
Avoiding 'an explosion of driving': Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York under Michael Bloomberg, said technology has to be paired with good public policy. "Without strong local guidelines, AVs could lead to an explosion of driving that could hurt cities more than it helps them," he said. Doctoroff gave the example of so-called "ghost" rides. "Imagine a world of people who don't want to pay for parking, so they set their car on auto-cruise until they're done with work or an errand," he said.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: The newly appointed executive director of New Jersey Transit passed on attending a joint state legislative oversight hearing Friday, which focused on the agency's "management, operations, funding, & safety issues." One of the committees involved apparently sent an invitation to the new executive director, Steven Santoro, weeks ago, POLITICO New Jersey's Conor Skelding reports . But Santoro didn't inform the committee until Thursday night via text message that he would skip the hearing. In response, Chairman John McKeon threatened to use the Assembly Judiciary Committee's recently acquired subpoena power.
So where was he? Santoro said he couldn't go to the oversight hearing because he had to meet with the FRA. But the federal agency said Friday that it "gladly" would have postponed that meeting, as Conor reports. "FRA was unaware until media reports surfaced that New Jersey Transit was declining to participate" in the hearing, agency spokesman Matthew Lehner said in a statement.
'No potential of a federal takeover': Richard Hammer, the chairman of NJ Transit's board and state transportation commissioner, on Friday rejected the idea that the federal government could take over the system. "There is no potential of a federal takeover," Hammer said at the oversight hearing. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said earlier this month that "there is precedent" for such a takeover and referred to FTA's oversight of WMATA. Foxx said DOT "will continue monitoring this situation" in New Jersey.
THE AUTOBAHN (SPEED READ):
— "Belgium wants checks of passenger information for rail travel." POLITICO.EU.
— "In era of apps and automation, D.C. and 16 other cities partner to test approaches to tech." The Washington Post.
— "Officials shoot at drone during weekend of pipeline protests." The Associated Press.
— "Tearful Bridgegate defendant says Christie knew about scheme, threw bottle at her." POLITICO New Jersey.
— "Hanjin in talks to sell stake in Long Beach Terminal." The Wall Street Journal.
— "Many wonder why Metro would float idea for station closures if proposal wasn't 'real.'" The Washington Post.
— "Rockwell Collins bets on smart jets with $6.4 billion B/E deal." Bloomberg.
THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 46 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 340 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 14 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,440 days.
THE DAY AHEAD:
9:15 a.m. — FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board hold a joint meeting and get an update on the Driver Health and Wellness Initiative. National Association of Homebuilders, 1201 15th St. NW.
Did we miss an event? Let MT know at email@example.com.
Stories from POLITICO Pro
Amtrak boots Samsung Galaxy devices from trains Back
By Lauren Gardner | 10/21/2016 03:42 PM EDT
Amtrak has banned passengers from bringing Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices on board its trains and into its stations a week after DOT restricted them from being brought on board U.S. commercial flights, according to media reports.
Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner service tweeted yesterday that the phones "are no longer permitted on Amtrak trains, Thruway buses, stations & platforms due to potential safety risks."
An Amtrak spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
DOT issued an emergency order Oct. 14 with FAA and PHMSA banning the smartphones from flights departing from, arriving to or moving within the United States after a rash of fiery incidents ignited by the product's battery.
Samsung has issued two recalls for the original device and its replacement.
FTA: WMATA train nearly struck federal inspectors Back
By Lauren Gardner | 10/21/2016 05:39 PM EDT
A speeding Metrorail train nearly hit two federal inspectors Thursday morning near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stop, an FTA spokesman said today.
Temporary speed restrictions were in effect as part of WMATA's safety procedures for track workers. But while inspecting track conditions in an area that has been plagued with defects, a train "failed to slow or stop, forcing two FTA inspectors to jump out of harm's way," said spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.
The agency didn't disclose how fast the train was traveling.
FTA and WMATA are investigating the incident, Taubenkibel said.
House Oversight seeks assurance on safety of federal fleet Back
By Tanya Snyder | 10/21/2016 03:09 PM EDT
The House Oversight Committee asked the GSA today to ensure that vehicles used by federal employees aren't being driven with open recalls, and also joined a call from four House Democrats who asked GSA not to sell vehicles under recall.
"[W]e believe that no federal employees should be driving vehicles that are subject to recalls that could place employees or others at risk," the committee's bipartisan leadership wrote.
GSA officials have said that potential buyers are notified of recalls that may be in effect, but some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun demanding that those sales be halted or that necessary repairs be done before they are sold.
The letter from Oversight leaders asked GSA to provide a list of all GSA fleet vehicles subject to a safety recall, a list of vehicles sold at auction, sample vehicle disclosure documents given to buyers, documents relating to the sale of recall-affected vehicles, GSA's recall and repair procedures, and GSA's opinion about the feasibility of repairing all recall-affected vehicles before selling them at auction.
Dems press GSA to overhaul recalled-car auction practices Back
By Lauren Gardner | 10/20/2016 04:08 PM EDT
A group of House Democrats are calling on the General Services Administration to stop selling vehicles from its fleet if they have open safety recalls.
While selling used cars with unremedied recalls is legal, the lawmakers said, the federal government should be held "to a higher standard," particularly when another agency like NHTSA staunchly advocates for higher public participation in recalls. GSA's practice was recently brought to light by media reports.
"As an arm of the federal government, your agency has the responsibility to look out for the well-being of Americans," wrote Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.). "Leasing and auctioning vehicles with open safety recalls is inconsistent with that responsibility."
GSA manages vehicles across the federal government and auctions off used cars to the public. The agency already has automated procedures in place to check vehicles for open recalls, the members said, but is only responsible for providing a buyer a general disclaimer noting that the car or truck may be subject to a recall.
The members also urged GSA to do more to ensure federal agencies leasing their vehicles are notified when they're recalled.
"No federal agency should use or sell cars that are unsafe," they wrote. "The GSA should lead by example by fixing all actionable recalls."
New NJTransit leader skips oversight hearing Back
By Conor Skelding | 10/23/2016 09:14 PM EDT
New Jersey Transit's new executive director, Steven Santoro, skipped a joint legislative oversight hearing Friday morning.
The State Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee are meeting to hear about the agency's "management, operations, funding, & safety issues."
Assembly judiciary committee chairman John McKeon said that the committee had invited Santoro two weeks ago, but only received a text message Thursday night at 9 p.m. that he would not attend.
"We're not to be trifled with," he said, before threatening to use his committee's newly obtained subpoena power.
Senator Loretta Weinberg also said that she would seek subpoena power for the Senate oversight committee as well.
The NJTransit board appointed Santoro earlier in October soon after a fatal derailment in Hoboken.
NJTransit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
FRA says meeting with NJ Transit chairman could have been canceled Back
By Conor Skelding | 10/23/2016 08:53 PM EDT
The Federal Railroad Administration said late Friday it would have postponed a meeting with new NJ Transit executive director Steven Santoro so he could have attended a joint legislative oversight hearing in Trenton.
Richard Hammer, NJ Transit's board chairman and state transportation commissioner, had said at the hearing that Santoro could not attendbecause of the meeting.
"FRA would have gladly rescheduled our meeting this morning to allow New Jersey Transit to participate in today's hearing. FRA was unaware until media reports surfaced that New Jersey Transit was declining to participate in today's hearing," agency spokesman Matthew Lehner said in a statement.
Assembly Judiciary chairman John McKeon said the FRA's statement was disheartening.
"It's disheartening to hear that the Federal Railroad Administration would have gladly rescheduled its meeting with NJ Transit today to allow the agency to testify today before the joint legislative committee," he said in a statement. "Commissioner Hammer certainly made it seem like the FRA meeting could not be rescheduled, so once again we question whether the commissioner was misleading legislators. We do not appreciate it.
"Commissioner Hammer and NJ Transit are not off to a good start, but hopefully they've gotten the message and will do better. If they don't, we are prepared to act with subpoena power. We are taking NJ Transit safety and operations seriously. We expect the same from the Commissioner and NJ Transit," McKeon said.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder referred to an earlier statement today acknowledging "the importance" of the committee's work and promising Santoro at its Nov. 4 meeting.
POLITICO New Jersey: NJTransit board chair: 'There is no potential of a federal takeover' Back
By Conor Skelding | 10/21/2016 12:41 PM EDT
New Jersey Transit's board chairman, Richard Hammer, said that a federal takeover of the state's transit authority will not happen.
"There is no potential of a federal takeover," he said today at a joint legislative oversight hearing.
Last week, U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx declined an opportunity to rule that out completely. The NTSB is now investigating a fatal train crash at Hoboken last month, before which the feds found dozens of violations.
Hammer criticized press reports without unequivocally saying they were incorrect.
This first appeared on POLITICO New Jersey on Oct. 21, 2016.
Foxx doesn't entirely rule out a federal takeover of NJ Transit Back
By Dana Rubinstein | 10/14/2016 02:06 PM EDT
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday declined to completely rule out a federal takeover of NJ Transit.
During a press conference at Penn Station in Manhattan regarding a new cross-Hudson rail tunnel, a reporter asked Foxx if there was any precedent for a U.S. transportation department takeover of a failing transit system and, if so, whether that was something he would consider doing in the case of NJ Transit.
"Well, there is precedent," Foxx said. "Actually, we are actually very much engaged in the Washington Metro Transit Authority, because their state safety oversight organization had basically failed.
"So without getting too much into the dynamics here, I would just say this — that we will continue monitoring this situation," he said.
"Our Federal Railroad Administration has taken steps to identify 25 areas that they need to work on," said Foxx, referring to dozens of violations discovered by the feds before last month's derailment in Hoboken that killed one and injured more than 100. "If more aggressive steps are needed to ensure that these things get done, we will take all appropriate steps at appropriate times."
Since the Hoboken crash, NJ Transit has been under intense legislative and media scrutiny. Many have described it as money-starved and failing.
A spokeswoman for NJ Transit had no immediate comment.
The focus of Friday's press conference was the Gateway Program, which will create a new rail tunnel between Penn Station and New Jersey. It will be owned by Amtrak, but NJ Transit will use it most. The New Jersey railroad did not send a representative to the event.
Belgium wants checks of passenger information for rail travel Back
By Joshua Posaner and Laurens Cerulus | 10/23/2016 04:04 PM EDT
The Belgian government has started parliamentary talks on plans to impose airline-style data registration on international rail and bus passengers as part of its response to recent terror attacks.
The so-called Passenger Name Records legislation, or PNR, is being discussed in the federal parliament Friday, and it could force train operators to send booking data to a central database 24 hours before departure.
"It would be pretty stupid to tell terrorists or violent extremists that you're trying to catch them through aviation [controls] only. These people read papers too. They'll move to other ways of transportation," said Olivier Van Raemdonck, spokesman for Minister of Interior Jan Jambon.
Thalys and Eurostar services heading north from France and Deutsche Bahn services from Frankfurt would be covered, hitting international rail's status as a check-free open system of travel. For rail, the measures will only affect services using Belgium's high-speed lines, so the requirement would not apply to national operator SNCB's services to Luxembourg and the Brussels-Amsterdam train that crosses the border 32 times a day.
"The terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels changed everything," said Benoit Hellings, a Green MP in the federal parliament. For him, the proposed rules are unwieldy and authorities will struggle to handle mass data efficiently.
PNR is just one of 18 measures announced by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel following the Paris terror attacks last year and an attack on a Thalys train in France in August 2015 that injured three people.
"It's not only about getting hold of [terrorists] via lists that allow us to arrest them, but also about profiling, mapping the movements," Van Raemdonck said.
The legislation is now in draft form, with parliamentary debates set to thrash out the terms of what could become four different laws — one each for rail, aviation, bus and boat travel.
The European Commission is taking a wait-and-see approach, saying only that it would respond once full legislation had been prepared.
The Commission's Director General for Transport Henrik Hololei wrote to the Belgian permanent representative in the summer requesting to be kept informed. Hololei warned of a "profound impact" on overland travelers if new checks were brought in.
An EU PNR directive already covers aviation data checks, but it provides for national systems of mass collection to be implemented for other modes of transit. Data privacy watchers have challenged the existing aviation arrangements.
MEPs have refused to ratify the bilateral EU-Canada PNR deal in the European Parliament until a European Court of Justice judgement comes through on its legality.
An advocate general for the ECJ said in a recent opinion that there were serious concerns about the Canada deal in its present form.
"Privacy is not such an issue, we've worked a lot on that and negotiated. We know where the limits are," Van Raemdonck said. "What's important is that we have to be able to implement the systems" for sectors beyond aviation.
This article first appeared on POLITICO.EU on Oct. 21, 2016.
Tearful Bridgegate defendant says Christie knew about scheme, threw bottle at her Back
By Ryan Hutchins | 10/21/2016 01:58 PM EDT
NEWARK — Bridget Anne Kelly, one of two defendants on trial for charges related to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, said in court Friday that she personally told Gov. Chris Christie about the closures a month before they occurred.
She also said that she came to fear the governor and that, on one occasion, he threw a water bottle at her, hitting her on the arm.
Taking the witness stand in U.S. District Court, Kelly — a former deputy chief of staff to Christie — insisted that she had no idea the lane closures were part of a scheme to exact political revenge on a local mayor who had refused to endorse Christie.
Rather, Kelly said, she was told that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was planning a "traffic study" that could ease congestion over the bridge, which the governor would be able to claim credit for.
Kelly said she was asked by David Wildstein, the admitted mastermind of the scheme and at the time an official at the Port, to speak to Christie about the study because it would cause some "traffic problems" in Fort Lee, where the bridge is located.
"Apparently, the Port Authority is going to be doing a traffic study in Fort Lee," Kelly said she told the governor on Aug. 12, 2013. "I explained the access lanes to him. He said, 'OK. When are they doing this?' I said, 'I believe imminently.'"
Kelly said she told Christie that Wildstein said there would be issues with congestion in Fort Lee as a result of the study.
"He said 'alright,'" Kelly said. "He didn't really react. He said, 'That's fine.' He said, 'What's our relationship with [Fort Lee] Mayor [Mark] Sokolich?' I really didn't know."
She said she also told Christie about Wildstein's plan for the governor to claim credit for the study if it was successful, holding a press event — possibly with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — to celebrate and "to really thank the governor for doing this study."
"The governor said, 'That's typical Wally,'" Kelly recalled, referring to Wildstein by his pen name from when he was the anonymous editor of PolitickerNJ.
In a statement Friday night, Christie press secretary Brian Murray denied Kelly's claims. "As the Governor has said since January 9, 2014, the Governor had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and he had no role in authorizing them. Anything said to the contrary is simply untrue," he said.
Kelly said Christie also told her she should discuss the plan with Kevin O'Dowd, his chief of staff. The governor also asked to have lunch with Kelly the next day, she said.
Kelly testified she was worried about planned lunch — she'd never had lunch with the governor, and wanted to make sure she had an answer for everything.
She said she reached out to Matt Mowers, a former staffer in the governor's office who was then working on his campaign, to find out what kind of relationship the administration had with Sokolich, a Democrat. It was a good relationship, she was told, but Sokolich had declined to endorse Christie in his reelection campaign.
Kelly said she spoke to O'Dowd the next morning about the traffic study.
"He said he was 'OK' with it," she said. "And he said, 'As long as the governor's fine, I'm good with it.'"
That morning, she sent Wildstein the now-infamous email, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
She said that email had no nefarious undertones — she was using Wildstein's words about what would happen when the traffic study began. She told her attorney, Michael Critchley, the email was "absolutely not" a "code for punishment."
"I sent off a text message parroting exactly what David told me: There's going to be 'traffic problems in Fort Lee.' Exactly what I told the governor," she said on the witness stand, visibly emotional as she talked about the email.
The testimony directly contradicts claims by the governor, whose office stated in 2014 that Christie had "absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened."
Kelly's lunch with Christie turned out to be uneventful, she said, with Christie spending most of the time chatting with Deborah Gramiccioni, who headed the governor's authorities unit.
After the lane closures began, Kelly said Christie spoke with Wildstein about the closures at the Sept. 11 memorial event in Manhattan. When he returned to Trenton later that day, Kelly says they spoke for several minutes about the conversation.
"He said that he spoke to Wildstein and that they were doing, the traffic study was this week," she said. "And he said, 'the mayor had reached out to the Port Authority but Wildstein told the governor he was handling it."
During that time, Sokolich had been repeatedly trying to get in touch with Bill Baroni, the Christie-appointed deputy executive director of the Port Authority and Kelly's co-defendant in the case. Kelly said she told the governor she knew the mayor had reached out about a "safety issue," but that Wildstein had also assured her he was dealing with it.
"The governor said that the Port Authority was handling it, that David said he'd been in touch with Fort Lee," she recalled.
Kelly and Baroni were indicted last May on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.
Christie, who is currently a top adviser to Donald Trump, has denied any knowledge or involvement in this incident.
Wildstein, who was the Port's director of interstate capital projects, has already pleaded guilty and implicated the two others.
That same year, Kelly said Friday, Christie put her in charge of setting up a "mayor's day" with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop — another Democrat whose endorsement Christie allies had been seeking. The idea was the new mayor would be able to have a series of meetings with top members of the administration.
Before it happened, though, Kelly said O'Dowd told her to have the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs cancel all the meetings. She said she was given no explanation.
"He told me they should be canceled one after the other by each department," she said of O'Dowd, before again becoming emotional.
She said she later learned there was to be no communication with the mayor and they were to "ice" him.
At one point, she said, the governor himself gave her that direction.
"He said, 'No one's entitled to a fucking meeting,'" Kelly recalled through tears. "I just knew he didn't want anyone meeting with Steve Fulop and I didn't know why and I didn't want to ask."
Kelly said she came to fear Christie.
On a separate occasion, she testified the governor became angry at her as she talked about setting up a meeting to discuss a major fire in Seaside Heights. She said the governor could run the event, handing the discussion over to various Cabinet members to talk about the details.
"He had a water bottle in his hand and he said, 'What do you think I am, a fucking game show host?" Kelly said from the stand through tears. "And he threw his water bottle. I moved out of the way, but it hit my arm."
"Were you afraid of the governor?" Critchley asked.
"Yes," Kelly replied.
"He's a big tough guy, eh?" Critchley asked.
"Yes," she said, still crying.
Wall Street Journal: Election Raises Hopes for Infrastructure Outlays—Whoever Wins
The prospect of increased U.S. government spending is tantalizing investors who see such outlays as critical to revitalizing economic growth and ending the era of ultralow interest rates, while frustrating others who fear efforts won’t go far enough.
After years in which central-bank stimulus measures have produced only sluggish growth, many economists say now is the time for the U.S. to embark on long-debated plans to build roads, bridges and sewers. Building infrastructure, they say, could boost employment, wages and productivity, the last of which has fallen disturbingly low in recent years, and create economic wealth far outweighing the costs of additional federal borrowing.
Lifting hopes for such plans, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump have proposed increasing infrastructure spending.
Some investors appear to be wagering that such expenditures will happen. Share prices at firms that have the highest revenue derived from government spending have risen twice as much this year relative to their expected earnings as the rest of the S&P 500, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The SPDR S&P Global Infrastructure exchange-traded fund has returned roughly 14% in 2016, including price gains and dividend payments, vs. the S&P 500’s 6.6% return, according to FactSet. First Trust ISE Global Engineering and Construction Index Fund has returned around 10%.
“Fiscal spending is an answer to an economy that is not growing at the level it should be this many years after the recession,” said Andrew Slimmon, portfolio manager with Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
With growth also weak in Europe and Japan, politicians and investors world-wide are increasingly discussing the potential of fiscal, versus monetary, policy to spur economies.
In the U.S., hopes for fiscal spending have been lifted by a series of deals in 2015 suggesting that austerity on Capitol Hill had ended. Congress agreed to modestly lift caps on discretionary spending and make permanent a series of tax breaks that added to the deficit.
“Congress has demonstrated a tendency to start adding a little bit to the deficit, whereas several years ago the tendency when you hit a big political deadline, you would use that to reduce the deficit,” said Alec Phillips, a political economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Still, most fiscal-policy analysts say major new stimulus is likely only if one party controls Congress and the White House. For now, many forecasters still see divided government as the most likely outcome, with Mrs. Clinton winning the presidency while the GOP, with a smaller and more conservative majority, holding on to at least the House of Representatives.
Mr. Trump has proposed big increases in spending on infrastructure, defense and veterans’ health care, together with a large tax cut that could send deficits surging. His advisers say the tax cuts, plus other steps on trade and regulation, could boost growth to pay for those initiatives. Many economists are skeptical of those statements and say the plan is likely to send federal borrowing much higher.
The $275 billion, five-year plan put forward by Mrs. Clinton, who is leading in the polls, isn’t large enough to represent a boost in public investment sufficiently robust to break the economy out of a low-rate, low-growth funk, some economists say.
“This is not like ‘Let’s go to the moon,’ or build new national highways,” said former Democratic budget aide Stan Collender, now executive vice president of Qorvis MSLGroup, a public-affairs firm.
Mrs. Clinton has promised her infrastructure-spending package will pass in her first 100 days. She has proposed paying for it by implementing a corporate-tax-code overhaul and raising money from earnings of multinational companies held overseas. But many analysts doubt her plans will sail through what many expect to remain a Republican-controlled Congress.
“Fiscal gridlock could well dominate the landscape for another four years and frustrate efforts to provide any meaningful stimulus,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Toronto-based money manager Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc.
Some economists and investors also say fiscal stimulus needs global coordination to significantly boost demand world-wide, and even with increased talk, such alignment is nowhere close.
“Investors hoping for this global pivot are likely to be disappointed,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management. “I do think we’ll get fiscal stimulus in the U.S. and it’ll help on the margins, but I don’t think it’ll be a game changer.”
Still, some maintain even a tilt toward more spending would help markets.
“From a stock-market perspective, you don’t need nearly as much as you think to elicit a very powerful market response,” said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at RBC Capital Markets.