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. Tony D

    Oi vay Democrats.... is this pathetic smear attempt the best you got against Christie? Totally laughable. Especially when you poo poo Hillary Clinton's direct involvement in the Benghazi massacre where 4 people needlessly died including one of her direct reports, the ambassador.

    Your desperation is showing....

    December 27, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Tampa Timt

    Everything seems to be falling into the Kochs' play book, as Krispy is doing a Guiliani impression. Jeb Bush is moving to the top spot. Scary isn't it?

    December 27, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. jinx9to88

    Where is Issa? Issa do your damn job and look into this? Wait Issa is a Repub, good luck getting this to happen.

    December 27, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Christie is one petty guy. This stunt is typical of his childish behavior.

    December 27, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Vic

    Christie is digging himself in deeper and deeper in this. He keeps lying and deflecting, and he looks guilty as sin. He keeps saying he never met the mayor of Fort Lee, despite there being a picture of them shaking hands on the Governor's own web site, a video of the two of them on the same episode of Morning Joe filmed at Fort Lee High School, and oh yeah, they went to Seton Hall Law School together.

    More heads will role over this, and sooner or later a piece of paper will be found with Christie's name onit ordering the closures. Either if they don't find the smoking gun, he has shown that he appoint unqualified political cronies to high paying position they are totally unqualified for.

    December 27, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    @Tony D: "Oi vay Democrats.... is this pathetic smear attempt the best you got against Christie? Totally laughable. Especially when you poo poo Hillary Clinton's direct involvement in the Benghazi massacre where 4 people needlessly died including one of her direct reports, the ambassador."

    Clinton was NOT directly involved in the Benghazi tragedy – there is absolutely no reason she or anyone in the Obama administration would want Americans to die. That's the bit that you paranoid Obama-haters never address.

    BTW, were you this upset when the 13 American diplomatic missions were attacked during the Bush Administration? Hell, were you this upset when 9/11 happened – on Bush's watch? Did you demand Bush's resignation for letting 3,000 people die, for reacting like a deer in the headlights when he heard about the planes hitting the towers, when you learned that he ignored a memo specifically warning of that type of attack, when he and Dick refused to testify under oath (on condition that no recording devices of any kind be used) behind closed doors about the attacks?

    WERE YOU?!? No, because you're a good little RWNJ sheep, incapable of critical thought.

    December 27, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    that's good Tony D...continue the bogus smear against HRC and Benghazi. I'm sure Rushbo and the rest of your talking points masters will continue to urge their sheep to cry about this until 2016 but it will make NO DIFFERENCE. What's next in your inane babbling.....Whitewater? And things have only begun for tubby the Gov. He'll never even make it out of the primaries because he's not pure enough for the Tealiban zealots that run the GOP

    December 27, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Donna

    WOW!! Breaking NEWS!! Study finds that closing down busy traffic lanes causes traffic backups!! SHOCKING!!! Who knew??? We need to spend at least a hundred billion more to study and research why this happens

    December 27, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Tony D

    Oi vay Democrats.... is this pathetic smear attempt the best you got against Christie? Totally laughable. Especially when you poo poo Hillary Clinton's direct involvement in the Benghazi massacre where 4 people needlessly died including one of her direct reports, the ambassador.
    -------------------------–
    Oi vay. "Where's the beef?" Where's the data that they supposedly collected from this alleged "traffic study"? The people on the ground at the time didn't do any data collection, nor were they instructed to do anything besides shut down lanes.

    You see, the problem with creating the massive traffic jam is that it endangered lives by clogging streets for emergency vehicles. It made everyone late getting to their destinations. Office Workers. Teachers and Students alike. Delivery and Service vehicles. It may have cost a lot of innocents a lot of nuisance for the most petty of reasons. Lastly, let me remind you that proper procedures were not followed, which included notifying the City of Fort Lee about what was going on. Fort Lee was not informed of anything.

    December 27, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    I think republicans will find this is more than a smear, as their own Swift Boaters are working against Krispy.

    December 27, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    This GOP guise in nasty never wins to USA presidency. He has no charisma. NJ is in red with deficits and has too many illegal India guys to illegal immigration list to deport and collecting benefits to rape the system. Yes, Hillary16.

    December 27, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. rla

    Democrats doing t what they do best along with their media reps!!! Smear and distort!!! How about facts for once or do the meadia find them offensive?

    December 27, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Marcus (from...?)

    Tony D – Issa has been trying, and trying, and trying, and trying, and TRYING to get anything useful (for the Republicans against Clinton in the upcoming 2016 election) out of the Benghazi incident on 9/11 and, so far, all he managed to do was waste money.
    Either there is really NOTHING to find in this issue or you are betting on the wrong player... (oh wait, there's no other but Issa that you can rely on?)

    December 27, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    When a right wingnut tries to make up a story about Benghazi after the Fox story has been debunked by real media, it reeks of desperation from the bagger party.

    December 27, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Thomas

    I want Issa on this El Pronto !

    Benghazi , Fast and Furious , Arson , Darrell is the only one who looks great in a 1000.00 suit , uses more Brylcreem on his hair then the whole state of New Jersey , NOTHING BUT THE FACTs , He is the Jack Webb of House investigation oversight comity .

    Ted Cruz / Darrell Issa 2016
    When facts become Truth ?

    December 27, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Sheila

    "We need to spend at least a hundred billion more to study and research why this happens"
    Once Congress starts passing new bills & new laws, don't worry, the earmarks will be in there

    December 27, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Marcus (from...?)

    Tampa Tim – 'A lie repeated a thousand times becomes truth...' (or something like that, but that's the idea of the words anyway) is probably the most famous phrase of Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Propaganda Secretary and also in charge of the Censorship during Hitler's Reich). It seems that it works well with those that have but no other option except to believe in lies since they don't have facts to support their claims.
    Cue to a right wing poster says 'Exactly my point!' in 5...4...3...2...1...

    December 27, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    WOW!! Breaking NEWS!! Study finds that closing down busy traffic lanes causes traffic backups!! SHOCKING!!! Who knew??? We need to spend at least a hundred billion more to study and research why this happens
    --------------
    PSST. It was Republicans who authorized the study, Donna, not Democrats. They did this for entire week, too.

    December 27, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. Silence DoGood

    @Marcus (from...?)
    Tony D – Issa has been trying, and trying, and trying, and trying, and TRYING to get anything useful (for the Republicans against Clinton in the upcoming 2016 election) out of the Benghazi incident on 9/11 and, so far, all he managed to do was waste money.
    Either there is really NOTHING to find in this issue or you are betting on the wrong player... (oh wait, there's no other but Issa that you can rely on?)
    --------–
    Conservative logic: I claim there is a huge green whale in your back yard. We cannot see or disprove from where I sit so it must be true (plus God told me). If your neighbors come forth to witness there is no huge green whale, I cry "cover up conspiracy of the evil socialists". There is a huge green whale, there is a huge green whale, benghazi, benghazi.

    December 27, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. Gurgyl

    I really don't give darn hoot to Banghazi, nor Monica Livinsqi. Yes, Hillary16.

    December 27, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Ol' Yeller

    @Tony D

    "Oi vay Democrats.... is this pathetic smear attempt the best you got against Christie? Totally laughable. Especially when you poo poo Hillary Clinton's direct involvement in the Benghazi massacre where 4 people needlessly died including one of her direct reports, the ambassador."

    Though we will not stomp around, point fingers, lie, and cry about it... like the republicants have done with every nontroversy they can come up with... yes, I think it is important to know if someone we may be considering electing as the leader of the free world is so childish he would endanger Amercian lives on American soil just to pay back a percieved political slight.
    Unlike republicants, who haven't elected a crook they wouldn't re-elect, we do not normally go to bat for known ne'er do wells (see Spitzer and Weiner losses... vs. Sanford election). I understand you folks are desperate and you really have no principals... but some of us do.
    And Benghazi... really? Even your greatest Investigator (hee, hee) Darrel Issa couldn't find one iota of evidence the SoS did anything wrong.
    Despite what your radio is screaming at you (hint: tuner dial)

    December 27, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    rla

    Democrats doing t what they do best along with their media reps!!! Smear and distort!!! How about facts for once or do the meadia find them offensive?
    ----------------------–
    Facts. That's just it. They keep asking Christie and he does is deflect and deny.

    December 27, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. jinx9to88

    GOP are such hypocrites. GOP bloggers, how does it feel to have the Dems on a witch hunt? Funny isn't it? Wheres Issa he will get to the bottom of this.

    December 27, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    Donna

    WOW!! Breaking NEWS!! Study finds that closing down busy traffic lanes causes traffic backups!! SHOCKING!!! Who knew??? We need to spend at least a hundred billion more to study and research why this happens
    ----–
    PSST. It was Republicans who authorized the study, Donna, not Democrats. They did this for entire week, too.
    ----–
    Rudy stop it. Facts ruin the Party fun. The Tea Party has no room for facts with all the emotional crazy packed in there.

    December 27, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. Obamacare Website Programmer

    Look how hard the liberal media's trying to manufacture a scandal! Shameful.

    December 27, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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