Facing unexpected gridlock on the Brooklyn Bridge? It might be the historic congestion crisis aggravated by our city leaders' disinterest in actual policy solutions. Or maybe it's El Chapo.
Since Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán was extradited to New York in January of last year, the notoriously slippery drug kingpin has made periodic court appearances in Brooklyn, while staying at the highly-secure jail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan. Whenever he's called to court, authorities are forced to shut down the bridge in its entirety—stranding an untold number of motorists, as the massive police caravan is granted exclusive access to the East River crossing.
And while the traffic headaches have come only occasionally so far, things may soon get a whole lot worse. The NY Times reports that once his trial begins in November, Guzmán will need to be shuttled between boroughs twice a day. "These closures would happen, inconveniently enough, precisely during the morning and evening rush hours," according to the report.
Everyone agrees this is a particularly lousy arrangement—especially when you consider that an extended trial could overlap with April's L train shutdown, as it could force some banished motorists onto the already crammed Williamsburg Bridge. But it remains unclear whether anyone is doing anything to address this seemingly avoidable traffic nightmare.
Back in May, lawyers for Guzmán voiced concerns about the process, claiming that the "public, bridge-closing, riot-gear-wearing, phalanx of cars and officers" could turn jurors against their client. On Tuesday, Judge Brian M. Cogan acknowledged that concerns about the situation were "valid," the Times reports, and said "he had been working with the United States Marshals to come up with a solution to the problem, though he gave no clue what the solution was."
Observers say those possibilities include moving Guzmán to a less secure jail in Brooklyn, flying him over the river, or possibly sticking him on a ferry. But authorities haven't said much yet—neither the Times nor Gothamist were able to get an answer from anyone at the U.S. Marshals Service, the DOT, or the NYPD.
One thing we do know for sure, however, is that Guzmán will be standing trial in Brooklyn. On Tuesday, the judge reportedly rejected the kingpin's plea to move to a Manhattan court, shooting down Guzmán's wish to commute to his trial via an underground tunnel connecting the jail to Manhattan's Southern District courthouse.
Guzmán is due back in court on September 10th, with jury selection set to begin in the first week of November.