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Chief Port Authority official questioned New Jersey George Washington Bridge lane closings

By Daniel S Levine,

Over 2,000 pages of documents related to the September lane closings on the George Washington Bridge have been released, showing tension between New York and New Jersey Port Authority appointees. The lane closings are believed to be politically motivated by officials loyal to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in an effort to get back at a mayor who didn’t support him in 2012.

On Thursday, Christie held a marathon press conference with New Jersey reporters in Trenton, confirming that deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly was fired. Emails between her and David Wildstein, one of Christie’s Port Authority appointees, showed that they may have orchestrated the sudden lane closings, which happened with no warning to the public. Wildstein resigned in December, as did Bill Baroni, another Christie Port Authority appointee.

The Associated Press reports that the documents released on Friday include an email conversation between Patrick Foye, one of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Port Authority appointees, and Baroni. Foye is clearly unsure about the lane closings, writing, “I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates federal law.” He then calls the move “abusive” and requests that they be reopened immediately.

Baroni’s response was, “I am on my way to office to discuss. There can be no public discourse.”

Foye wrote back, “Bill that’s precisely the problem: there has been no public discourse on this.”

Later, Baroni released a statement saying that the lane closures were part of a study. But, according to Philly.com, the supposed study was always referred to as a “test” and “operation” that monitored the affects of the traffic on Fort Lee. The town’s Democratic mayor did not support Christie, a Republican, in his re-election bid and the documents show that Wildstein planned the operation. It was also confirmed by the documents that Cuomo was not aware of a traffic study.

Lawmakers are already looking into allegations that this was a scheme to get back at Fort Lee’s mayor. The U.S. Attorney's Office is also investigating.

The New York Daily News also notes that the documents released Friday show that warning signs were ignored.

“I pray that no life has been lost,” Foye wrote in the email to Baroni. “I will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for. I intend to learn how PA process was wrongfully subverted and the public interest damaged, to say nothing of the credibility of this agency.”

image: Wikimedia Commons

 
 

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