Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

GW Bridge jams had eco-fallout, too: more air pollution

If you were in the traffic congestion, or nearby, you were likely breathing dirtier air

GW Bridge jams had eco-fallout, too: more air pollution

The New Jersey Sierra Club, which rarely misses a chance to jump into a fray, has added an environmental element to the Christie administration crisis over the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last fall.

The traffic jams, which lasted for four days, "had direct impacts on air pollution," notes the organization in a press release. 

So even if you weren't one of the school children, ambulance patients or others stuck in the road congestion, if you were nearby, you likely were breathing dirtier air.

"During the December 11th Port Authority meeting they reported 2,800 hours as the amount of time people spent in traffic during this lane closure, which we believe is on the low side," the Sierra Club noted. 

By their calculations, about 35,000 to 40,000 pounds of air pollution was emitted during that time. "This is the average for cars and light trucks, which does not include regular trucks or diesel," the organization said.

Fine particulates are among the most worrisome air pollutants because they can be breathed deep into the lungs and often carry other harmful chemicals, such as the carcinogen benzene, with them.

In addition, "This  traffic jam caused about 1,400 to 1,500 in wasted gallons of gasoline costing drivers around $5,000."

The organization said those numbers are for the traffic on the George Washington Bridge only "and do not include traffic within Fort Lee and around the town."

“Bridge Gate actually had environmentally consequences. It meant more people stuck in traffic breathing in more pollution, wasting gasoline, and spending money. It is not just about a traffic jam, but there was a significant increase in air pollution on a bad air day threatening the health of New Jersey residents,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a press release.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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