Join The
Get The

Infrastructure in the News 11.1.16


Wall Street Journal: Grim Year Forecast for Big Shipping Firms (full article follows Morning Transportation)

None of the world’s biggest container-shipping companies is likely to post a profit this year, a top executive of French shipping giant CMA CGM said Monday.

Government Technology: Transportation's Significant Potential to Fight Poverty

Americans will be doing a lot more than electing a new president on Nov. 8. They also will be voting on a host of local ballot measures that will profoundly shape their communities for decades to come. Transportation is one of the issues at the top of that agenda. Fully $200 billion in proposed transit investments will be decided in local referendums, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The Verge: The Future of America is Driverless

In his final months on the job, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been vocal about the pressing need to repair America’s broken infrastructure, and all the ways in which technology will fundamentally change the way we move.

Wall Street Journal: All Aboard the Infrastructure Boondoggle (full article follows Morning Transportation)

Some economists and politicians are again peddling the idea that billions of dollars in infrastructure spending will lift the U.S. economy out of the doldrums, spurring growth and raising employment and incomes. With government borrowing rates low, the argument goes, deficit finance amounts to a free lunch.

NPR: On One Thing The Candidates Agree: Infrastructure Needs Work

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have proposals to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. Meanwhile, ballots in some 400 local communities feature public transit and infrastructure projects.

Wall Street Journal: Startups Turn Delayed Flights Into Revenue (full article follows Morning Transportation)

A league of startup companies is industrializing the process of claiming compensation from airlines, helping stranded passengers turn the table on carriers and transforming delayed flights into a fast-growing stream of revenue.

Bloomberg: Justin Trudeau Is Discovering How Hard It Is to Spend Billions of Dollars on Infrastructure

Justin Trudeau's latest lesson? Spending billions of dollars allocated to kick-start a sluggish economy can be harder than it looks.


Reuters: Public Transit Workers in Philadelphia Go on Strike as Contract Expires

Public transportation workers in Philadelphia went on strike at midnight on Monday after they were unable to reach a contract agreement with the transit system that provides almost one million rides a day in and around the fifth largest U.S. city.

Associated Press: The Latest: Heavy Traffic Snarls Roads Amid Transit Strike

Drivers around the Philadelphia region were dealing with heavy rush hour traffic hours after transit workers went on strike, idling buses, trolleys and subways.

Washington Post: First weekday of Metro Red Line surge is relatively drama-free but don’t get complacent

Headache-free? No. But the first weekday of Metro’s 25-day partial Red Line shutdown proceeded with fewer problems than expected Monday, as riders heeded pleas from officials to seek alternatives.

11ALIVE (Georgia): Commuter Dude: Fulton County to decide on tax for transportation

Voters living in Fulton County outside of Atlanta will decide if proposed transportation improvements are worth paying an extra three-quarters of a penny in sales tax.

The Eagle (Texas): A&M to team with ‘Texas Tribune’ for transportation symposium

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is partnering with The Texas Tribune to host a daylong transportation policy symposium on the Texas A&M University campus Thursday.

The Sacramento Bee (California): Why Measure B is good for commuters

Sacramento County is at an exciting crossroads. Our economy is rebounding and the region is growing. Unfortunately, a critical element is lagging – transportation.

Los Angeles Times: L.A.'s traffic battle plan: More rail, but also Uber, bicycles, cars and a lot more dense development

From the beginning, reintroducing rail into a region dominated and dependent on the car has been a daunting task.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Trump and Clinton agree on infrastructure: Here's the regional wish list

In a drawer or on a laptop of Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers and planners are wish lists of infrastructure projects.

By Brianna Gurciullo | 11/01/2016 05:40 AM EDT

With help from Tanya Snyder, Lauren Gardner and Marianne LeVine

BLUMENTHAL QUESTIONS PTC EXEMPTIONS: Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants FRA to take a closer look at its policy of granting exemptions to federal PTC requirements, citing the recent major crash at New Jersey Transit's Hoboken terminal, which received such an exemption. Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter Monday to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg urging the agency to reconsider whether passenger railroads should be able to apply for PTC exemptions for terminals. FRA granted the Hoboken terminal an exemption in 2010. About a month ago, a commuter train crashed into the station, leaving one woman dead and over 100 others injured. "In light of the Hoboken crash, I write to ask whether the exemption for passenger stations remains sensible policy," Blumenthal wrote.

The agency's thinking: FRA has given several reasons for granting the exemptions. It says passenger terminals are built in too complex a way for PTC to work well. Plus, terminals have lower speed limits, and there are other technologies available to prevent crashes. But Blumenthal argues that PTC technology has developed further since FRA proposed terminal exemptions in 2009. He also points out that speed limits don't stop trains from speeding, as was the case in the Hoboken crash. And other technologies may not be as effective as PTC, he said. 

A continuing investigation: Experts haven't yet determined whether PTC could have helped prevent the Hoboken accident. But the reactions of lawmakers, including Blumenthal, raise the question of whether exemptions are an area ripe for regulators to re-evaluate. "It could take a year or more for the NTSB to complete its investigation of the crash, and during that time FRA could work simultaneously to reconsider the exemption and search for PTC solutions that can be deployed in terminals nationwide," he wrote.

IT'S NOVEMBER: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics to or@brigurciullo.

"So I went home like I normally do and I put on something dry. I went out to get a coffee, read a book about anarchy. And watched the commuters that walk by."

Want to keep up with all of MT's song picks? Follow our Spotify playlist.

PERFECT SCORE: Every one of the almost 16,000 heavy vehicles that Volvo Trucks recalled in February has been fixed, DOTannounced Monday. The recall included some model year 2016 and 2017 heavy trucks that had a steering issue. In affected vehicles, the problem "potentially could have caused the truck driver to unexpectedly and suddenly experience a complete loss of steering," according to DOT. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a release that the recall was completed "before there was any serious crash tied to this dangerous defect." Volvo Trucks, NHTSA and FMCSA launched a campaign to warn carriers, drivers and inspectors of the recall. DOT said it was "unprecedented" for NHTSA to partner with FMCSA, which ordered the trucks out of service.

SENATORS TO FAA: DO MORE ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT ON FLIGHTS: A group of Democratic senators says it's "troubling" and "unacceptable" that the FAA doesn't have "explicit guidelines" for how airline personnel should handle sexual assault and harassment during flights. In a letter sent Monday to Administrator Michael Huerta and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the 23 senators ask the FAA and Justice Department to create a working group on the issue, gather statistics to get a sense of how often sexual assaults occur on commercial flights and write guidance for reporting incidents, as our Tanya Snyder reports for Pros.

Support and accountability: The senators cited reports by outlets such as Slate, which highlighted a lack of preparedness among flight crews for handling sexual violence. "We urge you to review, clarify, and develop requirements for airlines to ensure flight attendants, crewmembers, and pilots who may have to respond to an incident while aboard the aircraft are prepared to support the survivor and take the steps necessary to hold the alleged perpetrator accountable," they wrote.

SOONER RATHER THAN LATER: Lawmakers want the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to complete their contract negotiations early to avoid another "disruption" that shut down 29 West Coast ports for nine months starting in June 2014, when the contract expired. (The dispute prompted Labor Secretary Tom Perez to intervene.) 

In a letter sent Monday to the ILWU and the PMA, Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert and others write that "though the current contract does not expire until July 2019, a resolution in the near-term is in the best interest of our entire region. Our regional and national economy depends on strong, reliable ports and the efficient movement of goods, which is why we simply cannot have a repeat of the 2014 contract expiration that led to a significant loss in foreign market-share, supply chain disruptions, and according to some estimates over $7 billion in impacts to the U.S. economy." The PMA and ILWU plan to discuss extending their contract this month. Read the letter here.

CHATTING WITH THE EU'S TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER: Joshua Posaner at POLITICO Europe recently spoke with European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc about carbon emissions from aviation and shipping. Even though emissions from those sectors could nearly triple by 2050, both were left out of the Paris climate deal, leaving it to United Nations agencies to fill the gap. Last month, the International Civilian Aviation Organization approved a system requiring airlines to offset their emissions in 2027. Last week, the International Maritime Organization agreed to start collecting data about cargo ship emissions by 2019. Here's an interesting tidbit from Josh's interview with Bulc, who was a key player at both the ICAO and IMO meetings:

Josh: "Were you prepared for the deep differences between the ICAO and IMO deals?"

Bulc: "[Shipping] is a different transport mode after all. It has a different history. It has different options. But when I was there, I went really to listen. My purpose was really to understand what their positions are and to understand where do they see the obstacles to moving forward. I encouraged them to recognize some common elements. First, that everybody has to contribute a fair share, and I think we agreed on that one. Secondly, we recognized that there are countries that can move faster and that there are countries that cannot move as fast. ... We also agreed that maritime is a global sector and that it needs to be addressed globally."

SHIFTING GEARS: Amit Bose was named deputy administrator at FRA on Monday. Bose, the agency's chief counsel, previously served as senior adviser to the FRA administrator and associate general counsel at DOT.


— "SEPTA strike begins." The Philadelphia Inquirer.

— "BlackBerry in software deal with Ford, first with an automaker." Reuters.

— "N.J. Transit leads for commuter-rail mechanical breakdowns." Bloomberg.

— "First weekday of Metro Red Line surge is relatively drama-free but don't get complacent." The Washington Post.

— "Rolls-Royce middlemen may have used bribes to land major contracts." The Guardian and BBC.

— "Vehicle in VP Joe Biden's motorcade crashes in Wilmington." The News Journal.

— "Shipping executive sees grim year for world's biggest shipping firms." The Wall Street Journal.

— "Startups turn delayed flights into revenue." The Wall Street Journal

POLITICO New Jersey's coverage of the Bridgegate trial:

— "Bridgegate prosecutors urge jury to see through ex-Christie aides' 'fantasy' defense." Ryan Hutchins.

— "Defense attorney blames Christie and 'maniac' aide for Bridgegate." Ryan Hutchins.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 38 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 332 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 7 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,432 days.


7 a.m. — The National Business Aviation Association begins its three-day Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition. Orlando, Fla.

8:30 a.m. — At NBAA-BACE, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske speak during the opening general session. Orlando, Fla.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at

To view online:

Stories from POLITICO Pro

Senators demand federal action to address sexual assault on airplanes Back

By Tanya Snyder | 10/31/2016 11:03 AM EDT

Twenty-three Democratic senators sent a letter today to the FAA and the Department of Justice to improve flight crews' response to sexual assault aboard airplanes.

"As our country continues the fight to end violence against women, it is critical that no space be exempt from protection or devoid of support for survivors of sexual assault," the senators wrote. "We write to express our deep concern that airplanes appear to be just such a place."

Such incidents have garnered increased attention lately, with recent allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted a woman aboard an aircraft three decades ago and more recent occurrences also making headlines.

The letter makes clear that the FAA's commitment to airline safety includes an obligation to address sexual assault and noted that the FAA has no specific guidelines for crew members' handling of sexual assault allegations on board airplanes.

To address the issue, the senators recommended that the agencies collect data, establish a working group to develop policy solutions, and identify best practices for responding to sexual assault aboard aircraft, including guidance on timely reporting.


Perez brokers end to West Coast ports impasse Back

By Brian Mahoney | 02/20/2015 11:07 PM EDT

President Barack Obama's ports gamble paid off. 

A bitter nine-month dispute between shipowners and dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports ended Friday night after Labor Secretary Tom Perez helped broker a tentative new contract.

If the deal is approved by rank and file members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, activity will return to normal at the ports, which are responsible for about $1 trillion in cargo annually.

The agreement marks a significant victory for Perez, who flew to San Francisco Tuesday to broker an agreement.

Had Perez failed, the parties would have been called to Washington, and Obama might have felt compelled to use his authority under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act to end the dispute. Such a move would have almost certainly favored management and angered organized labor at a time when it is already bristling at the president's trade agenda. 

"One thing I'm learning as I travel the country is, there's a lot of people out there who don't like Washington," Perez said in a press call Friday night. "And so we set out Tuesday [and said] we can either resolve it this week here in California or we can travel to Washington, D.C., and go to the White House until we're done." 

A White House press statement termed the deal "great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy," adding that the president was "grateful to Secretary Perez for his hard work bringing about a successful resolution to this dispute, and for the help of federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh." 

Obama, the statement said, "calls on the parties to work together to clear out the backlogs and congestion in the West Coast Ports as they finalize their agreement."

"President Obama took a big political risk by directing Perez to get involved," observed former Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris, "and the gamble paid off."

To clinch the deal, Perez had to negotiate a major overhaul of union-employer arbitration procedures.

Shipowners and dockworkers had been deadlocked for weeks on how future contract disputes would be arbitrated. The workers, represented by the ILWU, had reportedly asked for the removal of a previously designated arbitrator that they viewed as too pro-business. Under the tentative contract, the parties agreed to to create a new process for the selection of arbitrators, Perez said.

"I don't think anyone knows who the next arbitrator will be," Perez said. "What I do know, and have great confidence in, is the new arbitration system is going to ensure that everybody gets a fair shake."

Additional details of the agreement are not yet available. 

The dispute affected a variety of U.S. industries. California citrus exports suffered and automakers like Honda were forced to slow down production.

The situation worsened over President's Day weekend when the PMA shut down the ports to new traffic.

Perez told reporters Friday that he had been in touch with the president throughout the week on the dispute. He said the ILWU's steering committee approved the agreement unanimously, and he expressed confidence that the rank-and-file would ratify it.


POLITICO Pro Europe: Q&A with EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc Back

By Joshua Posaner | 10/31/2016 12:40 PM EDT

Efforts to tackle global warming and cut emissions aren't confined to the upcoming COP22 climate summit in Morocco — both the aviation and shipping sectors struck deals on carbon emissions in recent weeks.

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc had a leading role at both the Montreal summit of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and last week's meeting of the International Maritime Organization in London.

International air travel and shipping now account for about 8 percent of global emissions, and their output is expected to almost triple by 2050, so the pressure was on to begin addressing both sectors, which weren't covered by last year's Paris climate agreement.

The ICAO summit agreed to cap growth in international flight emissions at 2020 levels from 2021, but the initial phase is voluntary, which means a full-scale CO2 freeze won't come in until it becomes mandatory for most countries in 2027.

The IMO summit didn't decide on any emissions cuts, agreeing only to begin gathering data from cargo ships by 2019 and set out a plan by 2023.

The deals struck by the two U.N. agencies fell far short of what environmentalists say is needed to tackle global warming.

However, Bulc took a positive view of the outcome, stressing the importance of keeping everyone on board. She took POLITICO through her thinking about both summits. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Was it possible to come up with a more ambitious ICAO deal?

[It would be] dreaming that we completely decarbonize aviation, that we push the industry, that we push for better technological deployment ... But, right now, we don't have a resolution for that.

Was it difficult persuading delegations at ICAO to agree to the voluntary phase given the EU doesn't have a vote?

They know that we are, in a way, coordinators on an EU level. And I think also that we were a constructive force in setting up the framework. That it has to be fair, that it has to be inclusive and that it has a mandatory phase clearly stated.

Most MEPs think you did a good job in Montreal, but NGOs are crying foul — who's right?

I met with NGOs, and they of course would like to see more. That will always be the case. That's the purpose of NGOs. They're pushing the limits. But we can see that they were happy with the steps that we are making ... They want us to push even more globally. I would love to ... But push too far, you lose too many.

Were you prepared for the deep differences between the ICAO and IMO deals?

[Shipping] is a different transport mode after all. It has a different history. It has different options. But when I was there, I went really to listen. My purpose was really to understand what their positions are and to understand where do they see the obstacles to moving forward. I encouraged them to recognize some common elements. First, that everybody has to contribute a fair share, and I think we agreed on that one. Secondly, we recognized that there are countries that can move faster and that there are countries that cannot move as fast ... We also agreed that maritime is a global sector and that it needs to be addressed globally.

Generally, people agreed with that?

They were very interested to hear if I support the three-step approach [data collection, analysis, CO2 cut or cap target-setting], which of course I do, but I encouraged all stakeholders to also be open for a parallel process where they already start identifying how some sort of market-based measures could be used in maritime.

Does the structure of the IMO change the way a deal can be done, with each state contributing according to the tonnage under its flag?

It changes the process itself of course — new players, different stakeholders, the dynamic is different. The Marshall Islands, Liberia, Panama [are big players]. But after all, we are all after the same thing, to be a part of the game, to demonstrate that you are a global player with global responsibilities.

Was it a mistake not to include aviation and maritime in the Paris agreement?

Well, I would certainly like them in the Paris agreement. We were very much in favor of it. We worked towards it. But unfortunately there was not enough global support for that. So now we will try to do the best that we can. One thing I can say is that with the ICAO deal we proved that we actually went a step further because we do have mandatory obligations in it. And we hope that also maritime will follow in its own way.

This article first appeared on POLITICO.EU on Oct. 31, 2016.


Bridgegate prosecutors urge jury to see through ex-Christie aides' 'fantasy' defense Back

By Ryan Hutchins | 10/31/2016 02:50 PM EDT

NEWARK — Jurors in the George Washington Bridge lane closure trial began their deliberations on Monday afternoon but decided to break for the day after meeting for less than an hour.

Before leaving, the jury requested copies of their instructions and the indictment against the two defendants. They'll meet again starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Bill Baroni, a former top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, were indicted last May on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.

They are accused of closing local access lanes to the bridge — the world's busiest — to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the Republican governor in his 2013 re-election bid. The bridge is located in Fort Lee, and the lane closures caused days of gridlock in the Bergen County town and surrounding communities.

The two, both 44, face up to 20 years in prison under the most serious counts.

The closely watched trial featured testimony from some of Christie's closest confidants and day after day of bombshell allegations, including claims that the governor not only knew about the lane closures but approved the plan, believing it to be a "traffic study."

In his final words to jurors on Monday afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said it doesn't matter whether other people were involved in the plot. It doesn't matter, he said, if jurors feel like someone else should have been charged. What matters, he said, is whether Baroni and Kelly are guilty.

He rejected the arguments made by Michael Critchley, Kelly's defense attorney, in his closing on Monday morning.

"He wants to make it about Gov. Christie's presidential election. He wants to make it about whether Gov. Christie lied. He's trying to distract you from the core of the case," Khanna said. "Why? Because the evidence in this case against his client is devastating."

Christie, who is currently a top adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has denied any knowledge or involvement in this incident.

Baroni and Kelly are accused of working with David Wildstein, who was appointed by Christie to be the Port's director of interstate capital projects and is the admitted mastermind of the lane closures. Wilstein has already pleaded guilty and implicated the two others.

Both Critchley and Michael Baldassare, Baroni's lawyer, worked in their closing arguments on Friday and Monday to convince jurors that Wildstein can't be trusted and, as a result, their clients should be acquitted.

But the prosecution said that jurors didn't need to rely solely on Wildstein's word to see the defendants as guilty.

"Look at what he said in light of all that other evidence you saw in the course of six weeks," he said.

He jurors that if they did look at the whole picture, they'd see that the defense offered by Baroni and Kelly is just "a fantasy."

He said Kelly's defense is so far-fetched, jurors would have to believe that half a dozen witnesses weren't telling the truth.

"So what is it?" Khanna said. "Six, seven people came in here and lied to you?"


Defense attorney blames Christie and 'maniac' aide for Bridgegate Back

By Ryan Hutchins | 10/31/2016 12:55 PM EDT

NEWARK, N.J. — The George Washington Bridge lane closures were carried out by a deceptive "maniac" who was eager to please Gov. Chris Christie, and then the incident was covered up by the ambitious Republican governor as he worried how it would "affect his presidential campaign," Michael Critchley, the attorney for defendant Bridget Anne Kelly, said on Monday during his closing arguments in the federal trial.

In a dramatic summation that tested the bounds of what he could legally tell jurors, Critchley said there were two criminal schemes in the case: one to create a traffic jam in Bergen County — and possibly punish a local mayor who refused to endorse the governor — and another to bury what really happened. Kelly, he said, didn't have a knowing, willing role in either scheme.

Critchley painted David Wildstein, the admitted mastermind and the star witness during the trial, as a notorious liar who would do virtually anything to ride Christie's coattails to the White House.

He labeled Wildstein, a former top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, "the Bernie Madoff of New Jersey politics." There were signs, in retrospect, that he was an untrustworthy man capable of great wrong, but in the moment, few realized what he was capable of, Critchley said.

"You should have known how bad he is," Critchley said in U.S. District Court. "You should have known this; you should have known that. That's hindsight!"

Critchley contended that Wildstein had misled his client before, during and after the lane closures in September 2013, leaving her under the impression he was conducting a "traffic study" that had nothing to do with politics. Kelly, who was a deputy chief of staff to the governor, is charged alongside Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority.

Wildstein had testified that he worked with both Kelly and Baroni to implement the lane closures with the singular purpose of punishing Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who declined to endorse Christie's reelection bid. Critchley said Wildstein was showing off to Christie.

"Look at me, governor. Look at me. Look what I'm doing. Take me to Washington," Critchley said, assuming the voice of Wildstein. In Wildstein's "sick mind," Critchley said, the governor was going to be happy.

Critchley said jurors can't trust Wildstein's testimony because he was motivated by a desire to help prosecutors and live up to the terms of his plea bargain, hopefully avoiding what could be a 15-year prison sentence.

"Make no mistake, David Wildstein's been going against the system and manipulating the system his whole life," the attorney said. "And he has one manipulation to go."

He argued Wildstein is the one who broke the law in the case, not his client. "I wake up committing a crime," Critchley said, again assuming the voice of Wildstein. "I go to sleep committing a crime."

The comment prompted a rare objection during the summations, which Judge Susan Wigenton sustained.

On the other side of the lane closures, Critchley said, was a coverup "driven by the top" — orchestrated at the highest levels of government in two states, with Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally discussing how to handle the fallout.

He noted that Wildstein claimed the two governors spoke and that he had heard, second-hand, that there was an agreement they would issue a report brushing over the incident and describing it as a traffic study. Critchley also referenced testimony by Scott Rechler, the former vice chair of the Port Authority's board, who said he had discussed the issue with Cuomo.

That was in the month after the lane closures. As scrutiny grew, with lawmakers holding hearings in Trenton and eventually preparing to issue subpoenas, Christie kept insisting he knew nothing about the lane closures.

But Wildstein, Baroni and Kelly all said Christie knew some version of what went on. All three of them said they spoke to him about the lane closures on Sept. 11, 2013, as the plan was occurring. Kelly said she had received the governor's approval a month earlier for a traffic study.

Christie has denied any knowledge of the scheme as it unfolded.

"For some reason, Chris Christie makes the political miscalculation — or the political calculation — he wants to say, 'I didn't know anything. I didn't know anything about this Fort Lee incident,'" Critchley said. "He knew because Bridget had told him about this. He lied."

The governor, Critchley argued, wanted "no blips" and "no stains" on his record that could damage his impending run for president. Because of Christie's insistence that he knew nothing, others who knew about the lane closures — like his chief of staff, Kevin O'Dowd — started to forget, the lawyer said.

"That became the mantra," Critchley said. "Everybody in the administration got the message. They got the message — Christie doesn't know anything about this."

The problem with the trial, he argued, is that Christie, O'Dowd and numerous others did not testify. The government didn't call them to contradict Kelly's testimony and, as a result, there is reasonable doubt, he said.

"Where's Chris Christie to deny it? Where?" he shouted as he stalked around the courtroom. "They want that mother of four to take the fall for them. Wildstein wants that mother of four to take the fall for them. Cowards! Cowards!"

"You know why they can't come in?" he asked. "Because Bridget was telling the truth."

Prosecutors will be allowed to offer a rebuttal on Monday afternoon, after which the jury will begin its deliberations.

Wall Street Journal: Grim Year Forecast for Big Shipping Firms

None of the world’s biggest container-shipping companies is likely to post a profit this year, a top executive of French shipping giant CMA CGM said Monday.

That is likely to prompt further consolidation in the container-shipping industry that moves the vast majority of the world’s manufactured goods, CMA CGM Vice Chairman Rodolphe Saadé said in an interview.

“In 2016, most probably, none of the 20 top companies will be profitable,” he said.

Container shipping, which moves things as diverse as tablet computers, clothes, heavy machinery and food, has been strangled by two years of rock-bottom freight rates that have caused some operators to go bankrupt and others to seek partnerships to stay afloat.

“Consolidation will continue because small shipping lines will not be able to survive,” Mr. Saadé said. “The small to medium operators will be looking for a big brother to acquire them.”

Earlier Monday Japan’s three largest shipping companies—Nippon Yusen KK,  Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd.—said they would merge their container-shipping operations to create the world’s sixth-largest competitor. The move follows a bankruptcy filing by South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co., the world’s seventh-biggest competitor, in August.

Hanjin is being chopped up and sold in pieces and will either emerge as a small Asia operator or be liquidated. About a dozen shipping companies, mostly small operators of as many as three ships, have also exited the industry over the past several months.

Mr. Saadé said CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest operator by capacity and the lead partner in the Ocean Alliance, isn’t looking for acquisitions after taking over Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore for $2.4 billion last year. The Ocean Alliance would move about 40% of the cargo between Asia and the Americas and 35% of the cargo between Asia and Europe when it begins operating in April.

But Mr. Saadé said other big competitors will be looking at Germany’s Hamburg Sud Group, which might “need to join an alliance or be acquired in order to survive,” and to a lesser degree Israel’s ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., partly owned by the Israeli  government.

Hamburg Sud declined to comment. Zim didn’t reply to a request for comment on whether it is looking for partnerships.

Mr. Saadé said Hanjin’s collapse had somewhat stabilized tumbling freight rates that have averaged less than $700 a container a month since the start of last year on the benchmark Asia-to-Europe trade route. Dozens of Hanjin ships have been idled, removing capacity that has pushed freight rates slightly higher. But many of those vessels are being bought by other operators, and analysts say they will soon start sailing again, causing freight rates to start falling.

Shipping executives estimate the top 20 operators will post combined losses of as much as $10 billion this year as a glut of tonnage in the water continues to depress freight rates so much they barely cover fuel costs. They say $1,400 per container is the break-even point.

Mr. Saadé said he sees growth in moving seaborne cargo to the U.S. as “the economy is doing well and they import quite a lot.” Other areas of growth include Australia and Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand—as their low labor costs gradually entice makers of clothes, shoes and household goods to shift their production bases away from China.

He said African and South American oil-exporting countries are importing less because of falling oil revenue, with no clear growth prospects in sight. European trade remains anemic, but prospects are getting better, Mr. Saadé said. He added that Chinese growth is likely to be moderate. “There is a slowdown, but the world [trade] is not collapsing” he said.

Wall Street Journal: All Aboard the Infrastructure Boondoggle

Some economists and politicians are again peddling the idea that billions of dollars in infrastructure spending will lift the U.S. economy out of the doldrums, spurring growth and raising employment and incomes. With government borrowing rates low, the argument goes, deficit finance amounts to a free lunch.

Hillary Clinton has promised “the biggest, most forward-looking investments in infrastructure in 50 years,” $250 billion over five years, but putatively paid for with higher corporate taxes. She also wants to set aside $25 billion for a national “infrastructure bank” to highly leverage private spending on infrastructure projects, a foolish industrial-policy idea that should have died decades ago with the Carter administration.

Not to be outdone, Donald Trump says his plan will “at least double” the dollar figure of the Clinton plan, amounting to roughly $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. Unlike the Clinton plan, Mr. Trump’s plan doesn’t rely on corporate taxes and government lending, but rather tax credits and private lending.

No matter who wins the presidency, a huge pot of additional money earmarked for infrastructure, on top of the recently passed $305 billion five-year highway bill, is sure to unleash a mad scramble in Congress to secure funds for the home turf. The logrolling and pork will get ugly without far tighter cost-benefit tests and oversight.

I support the federal government funding all public infrastructure projects that pass rigorous national cost-benefit tests. But here’s the rub. Most federal infrastructure spending is done by sending funds to state and local governments. For highway programs, the ratio is usually 80% federal, 20% state and local. But that means every local district has an incentive to press the federal authorities to fund projects with poor national returns. We all remember Alaska’s infamous “bridge to nowhere.”

In other words, if a local government is putting up only 20% of the funds, it needs the benefits to its own citizens to be only 21% of the total national cost. Yet every state and every locality has potential infrastructure needs that it would like the rest of the country to pay for. That leads to the misallocation of federal funds and infrastructure projects that benefit the few at the cost of the many.

Politicians have all sorts of ways to hide the true costs of such projects from taxpayers.

First, they know most citizens won’t fully appreciate the future taxes that must be paid to cover interest costs on the added public debt. This allows them to underestimate the full cost of projects, an insight first made by the late Nobel laureate James Buchanan.

Second, taxpayers generally don’t notice all the fiscal cross-hauling, sending their money to Washington to be sent back in leaky buckets to local jurisdictions. Since we all reside in a state and locality, it’s an inefficient negative sum game with complex cross-subsidies. If these local projects are so good, why aren’t citizens willing to finance the projects locally?

Third, politicians sell infrastructure programs by saying they will lead to an immediate economic boost. But given the scope and duration of these projects, this is rarely true. After the 2008 subprime-mortgage meltdown, President Obama signed a $828 billion “stimulus” program. But the 7% devoted to infrastructure did not go to the areas with the highest unemployment or worst housing bust. Mr. Obama eventually had to joke in June 2013 that “Shovel-ready was not as, uh, shovel-ready as we expected.”

The late University of Michigan economist and Clinton Federal Reserve Board appointee, Ned Gramlich, the leading expert on the subject, concluded in a 1994 paper for the Journal of Economic Literature that attempting to stimulate the economy through federal matching funds for infrastructure projects gives state and local officials “a powerful incentive to wait and see if they can get a federal grant, rather than just going ahead with their own project.”

Japan tried infrastructure-heavy serial fiscal stimuli for decades and is trying again under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Yes, Japan now has many new bridges, roads and paved drainage ditches, but the spending has done little to improve Japan’s meager growth rate. What politicians in Japan or the U.S. don’t mention is that government infrastructure projects tend to use massive, modern construction equipment, so they aren’t labor intensive.

Our politicians should resist the dangerous temptation to use infrastructure spending for social engineering. California Gov. Jerry Brown, for example, has used $3 billion in subsidies from the 2009 Obama stimulus package to launch what will likely prove to be the biggest white elephant in state history. The so-called bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles saw its speed cut sharply and projected cost double to $68 billion before construction started.

Policy makers should be careful before jumping on the infrastructure-spending wagon, lest it turn into a huge boondoggle. The next president and Congress should make sure the $305 billion highway bill is wisely spent before upping the ante. A well designed, rigorously vetted, steadily funded program addressing infrastructure needs of national importance would be far better than a hastily written and passed bill, justified on false premises, that is likely to end in disappointment.

Wall Street Journal: Startups Turn Delayed Flights Into Revenue

A league of startup companies is industrializing the process of claiming compensation from airlines, helping stranded passengers turn the table on carriers and transforming delayed flights into a fast-growing stream of revenue.

Launched in Denmark, AirHelp Ltd. offers to sift through your emails, check your booking information against effective takeoff and landing times for the past three years, and seek compensation you might not even know you were entitled to.

The company promises to pick up all administrative and legal bills, and swiftly let customers know how much money they may collect—minus a cut of at least 25% it charges for fighting in their names.

From lawyers to consumer-rights associations, compensation-claim intermediaries have been around for a long time but procedural costs typically exceeded potential rewards.

“Airlines make it so difficult, that you will give up before you get reimbursed,” said Rune Knudsen, a New Yorker who relied on AirHelp to obtain compensation last year after his flight touched down behind schedule in Copenhagen. “They take away that headache.”

By digitizing the claim procedure, the likes of AirHelp, Flightright, EUclaim and Gate28 are transforming the business into a mass-service that could tilt the balance of power between airlines and passengers.

The business is rising exponentially. EUclaim says it has collected €58 million (about $64 million) since 2007, including more than €20 million this year alone. AirHelp says it recovered €57 million on behalf of 800,000 passengers in the first six months of the year, compared with €28 million for 400,000 passengers between its creation in 2013 and 2015.

By comparison, the U.S. Transportation Department, which can impose fines on airlines when they fail to abide by its regulations, said it has brought 11 actions for overbooking violations in the past nine years, collecting $2.14 million.

Passenger rights got a boost in 2004, when the European Union spelled out payments airlines had to make for flight delays or cancellations. Such compensation kicks in as soon as delays exceed three hours and can run as high as €600 a flight, making the EU one of the most passenger-friendly skies when problems occur.

Because non-EU carriers departing from the EU also are subject to the European compensation rule, claim companies actively are trying to reach plaintiffs not just in Europe but world-wide.

In the U.S., federal law doesn’t impose penalties for delays but the DOT nearly doubled the maximum compensation for passengers bumped from oversold flights in 2011. Today, it stands at $1,350.

Airlines warn of the consequences of the online intermediaries’ rapid rise, which adds to the financial strain on some already weak European carriers.

Carriers are bristling at the way some of the passenger-rights rules have been interpreted. The EU regulation waves the requirement on a carrier to pay if a delay or cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances, without spelling out what those may be. In some recent court rulings judges have decided a delay caused by lightning strike or bird ingestion into an engine weren’t extraordinary circumstances when the airline delayed a flight to check the plane isn’t damaged.

“The current rules are not realistic,” said Geert Sciot, a spokesman at the Association of European Airlines lobby group. “We have become insurance companies for everything that can go wrong on a passenger’s journey, even if we have nothing to do with the problem.” Ticket prices may have to rise if the financial drain from compensation claims keeps rising, he said.

Some airlines are seeking ways to counter the new breed of online-claim specialists. In France, the Union of Autonomous Airlines, an airline lobby group, said some of its members have set up a website in a bid to elbow out the likes of AirHelp from claim procedures. But since its creation early last year, the service has only processed about 2,300 claims, according to Bertrand Moine, legal adviser at the federation.

In the U.K., airlines have in recent months joined mediation bodies through which they can offer stranded passengers vouchers or miles instead of cash, said Henry Killworth, a spokesman for the British Civil Aviation Authority. But airlines aren’t legally required to join and many haven’t, he said.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, has started negotiations with airlines on how to update passenger-rights regulations. But industry officials said numerous disagreements remain, such as a debate between low-cost and traditional carriers over whether the compensation should be proportional to ticket prices—which isn’t the case now.

Meantime, more customers are seeking claims online. William Cunningham, a 71-year old retiree in Las Vegas, recouped €900 for himself and his wife through AirHelp last year, after his British Airways flight to London was delayed for 21 hours, causing him to miss a visit to Barcelona.

He said he will never bother contacting airlines again in the event of a delay or cancellation. “I think it’s a wonderful service,” he said. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”