Updated 3:23 p.m. ET, 12/13/2013
(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Friday the resignation of New Jersey's top Port Authority official Bill Baroni, as controversy swirls regarding allegations that politics played a role in a traffic study that closed several access lanes to the George Washington Bridge–one of the busiest in the world–in September.
Christie said Baroni accepted responsibility for not following the right protocols in approving the traffic study, which was led by a political appointee of Christie, David Wildstein. The lane closures caused major traffic delays on the bridge, which runs from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to New York City, and is part of Interstate 95.
"Mistakes are made and when mistakes are made people have to be held accountable for them," the Republican governor and potential presidential candidate said at a press conference.
The Port Authority, which is run jointly by New Jersey and New York, oversees the tunnels, bridges and seaports between the two states, as well as the metropolitan area's airports.
Port Authority officials testified before the New Jersey state legislature Tuesday that the closures were done at the direction of Wildstein and approved by Baroni. The administration said the closures were for a traffic study, but Port Authority officials said they were not aware of the study. Wildstein announced last week that he would resign over the controversy, saying the issue had become a "distraction."
Critics of the governor speculated the lane closures were an act of political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie in his re-election campaign this year.
Christie said Friday the political drama surrounding the issue was "created and manufactured," further characterizing it as "a whole lot of hullabaloo."
The governor said that Wildstein had been talking about doing the traffic study since the fall of 2010, long before Christie's re-election bid. He also said he didn't even know about the closure of the lanes until long after the incident occurred, and stated he doesn't know the mayor of Fort Lee, nor does he remember meeting him.
"I don't have any recollection of ever having met the mayor of Fort Lee in my four years," Christie said. "He was not somebody that was on my radar screen in any way–politically, professionally, or in any other way–until these stories came out in the aftermath of the closing."
With Christie being a possible frontrunner in the 2016 GOP presidential contest, national Democratic groups have made hay out of the controversy, releasing videos and websites slamming the governor over the issue.
The Democratic National Committee, for example, released a nearly two-minute web video Friday morning featuring media reports about the controversy.
But Christie said that's to be expected.
"National Democrats will make an issue about everything about me, so get used to the new world, everybody," he said. "We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy, that's the way it goes."
As the chief executive of the state, Christie conceded that he takes ultimate responsibility for both failures and successes in New Jersey.
"I am ultimately responsible for every person that I put into this government and the actions they take. That's different, obviously, than direct responsibility. But ultimate responsibility? Sure. I understand that," he said.
"When things go well, you get credit sometimes for things that you don't really deserve the compete credit for," he continued. "And when things go poorly, sometimes you get blamed for things that you don't completely deserve blame for. But that's the nature of this job, I got broad shoulders, I'm fine."
– CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Dana Davidsen and Tim McCaughan contributed to this report.