Documents raise new questions in Christie bridge controversy
December 27th, 2013
01:44 PM ET
10 months ago

Documents raise new questions in Christie bridge controversy

(CNN) - As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to bat down questions about a controversy involving the country's busiest bridge, new documents indicate Port Authority officials have long known that Fort Lee, New Jersey, has struggled with traffic gridlock because of the George Washington Bridge.

Closing some of the access lanes to the bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects New Jersey to Manhattan, would only exacerbate the problem. But that's exactly what a Christie political appointee did in September, resulting in massive delays and gridlock on the first day of school.

The appointee, a Port Authority employee, has since resigned but said he ordered the closures for a traffic study. New Jersey's top Port Authority official, Bill Baroni, also resigned over the controversy, accepting responsibility for not following the right protocols in approving the study, Christie announced earlier this month.

Critics, however, have speculated the lanes were closed as political payback after Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to endorse the Republican governor's re-election bid earlier this year. Christie acknowledged that mistakes were made but forcefully denied the lane closures were politically motivated.

A letter obtained by CNN shows that Sokolich reached out to Baroni in 2010 to express frustration about the bridge. The letter was first reported by The Record, a daily newspaper that covers the area, and published online by NorthJersey.com

"Fort Lee has always had to deal with the extraordinary traffic burdens caused by the George Washington Bridge ("GWB"); however, lately the traffic has reached unbearable status and without some assistance from the Port Authority, Fort Lee will be in a perpetual state of emergency," the mayor wrote.

Sokolich also wrote that Fort Lee had requested police help from the Port Authority to help control traffic, but received aid only on "limited occasion."

Other documents obtained by The Record show that the Port Authority - which manages bridges, tunnels and seaports between New Jersey and New York - had been providing financial assistance to Fort Lee for years to deal with heavy congestion caused by its proximity to the bridge.

The documents raise new questions as to why Port Authority officials would further jam up the arteries of Fort Lee by closing access lanes to the bridge, even if it were done for a study.

State lawmakers, as well as the Port Authority's inspector general, have been investigating the incident. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has also started a probe and asked the U.S. secretary of Transportation to look into the matter as well.

Christie continued to say there were no political motives behind the lane closures and reiterated last week he doesn't remember ever meeting the mayor of Fort Lee.

"That's why none of this makes any sense to me. I think in the end this will be shown to be speculation by folks who want to play political games," he said at a news conference.

Christie has been hounded about the controversy by local and national Democrats, who are targeting the Republican as he's thought to be preparing for a presidential run in 2016.

"I know you guys are obsessed with it, I'm not. I'm really not," Christie said. "It's just not that big a deal. Just because the press goes around and writes about it, both here and nationally, I know why that is and so do you. Let's not pretend that it's because of the gravity of the issue. It's because I am a national figure and anything like this will be written about a lot more."

– CNN's Lawrence Crook III and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. rs

    tom l
    It's so funny to see people like Sniffit and Rudy all over this like article and just eat it up. It's classic. Now THIS story has merit! This is a serious breach of trust. However any story with regards to Obama and/or and other democrat is just a nontroversy (most likely fueled by racism).
    Do you even notice that, Sniffit? Why is this story so credible yet EVERY SINGLE controversy with regards to Obama you refute and call a nontroversy? Every single one.
    ___________________
    You mean like the President's so-called selfie? Perhaps you should throw Benghazi and the IRS controversies into that category as well. Shoot Tom, I'd think you'd appreciate the Democratic Party trying to play the GOP's faux outrage game.

    December 28, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. just saying

    looks like the lunatic left is trying to smear christie as a bully to turn women voters against him. did it work in his run for governor? nope. the disgusting tactics of the left are becoming well known and people are not falling for them anymore. they play everybody for fools.

    December 28, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. rs

    just saying
    looks like the lunatic left is trying to smear christie as a bully to turn women voters against him. did it work in his run for governor? nope. the disgusting tactics of the left are becoming well known and people are not falling for them anymore. they play everybody for fools.
    ______________
    Hey JS- sort of sounds like the Benghazi nonsense the Republicans have been pushing for a year and a half- or their idiocy around the ACA- or their stupidity around the IRS. Face it the Dems. pulled a Republican card and played it against a Republican… turnaround is fair play.

    December 28, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    @just saying, real lunatics are blind supporters of GOP thugs, GOP hates women, planned parenthood, poor, middle class, non-whites, immigrants, etc. You are not rich either to support these thugs of the nation

    December 28, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Thomas

    @just saying
    looks like the lunatic left is trying to smear christie as a bully to turn women voters against him. did it work in his run for governor? nope. the disgusting tactics of the left are becoming well known and people are not falling for them anymore. they play everybody for fools.

    =========

    The Left didn't ask Chris Christie to lobby for "Bernie" Madoff , Christy did that for money .

    You and Donna should look it up , it's fact .

    December 28, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. Marcus (from...?)

    'Tony D – Well, it sure looks like the lefty Democraps are terrified of a Christie run in 2016. They have targeted early just like they did Mitt Romney. The Democraps have turned into a 7x24x365 nonstop smear machine. Talk about "fake scandals", this is one of them!
    The American people learned their lesson in 2008 and 2012 when you clowns lied your way to victory. They are on to your disgusting tactics, your smoke and mirrors. You are not going to get away with it again.'

    You sure about that?
    Unlike Benghazi, no matter how many hearings Issa had on the issue has he came up with something or anything that places the blame on the POTUS or Hillary Clinton, there are proofs of bad decisions demanding proper explanations and there are questions that aren't being answered.
    Unlike the whole birth certificate issue the (D)s are NOT making a whole castle out of thin air.
    Unlike the IRS scandal this is not a situation happening on the wrong perception that one side was targetted unfairly by a branch of the government since the problems in the traffic affected everybody, not just (D)s.
    Unlike the ACORN voter's registration fraud, the Black Panthers electoral intimidations and that employee laughing about denying a man a Federal help/loan, this is not a case based on edited videos...

    December 28, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. simplefaith

    Smear early in the political game. Nothing new for Republicans. Now they are going to fight each other for the Republican nomination for 2016. Repubs are starting early. .

    December 28, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.

    December 29, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    You think I give darn hoot at you or your BENGHAZI? No. Hillary16.

    December 29, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
1 2 3