Documents raise new questions in Christie bridge controversy
December 27th, 2013
01:44 PM ET
8 years 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.

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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

"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. Donna

    I wonder why the Accountability Review Board never interviewed Hillary Clinton concerning her role before, during and after the Benghazi attack? She was in Washington DC. The embassy in Tripoli was on the phone to the people back in DC. Why did they not interview Barack Obama concerning his actions and whereabouts during this 7-9 hour event? Hillary Clinton hand picked the Accountability Review Board! Talk about a total conflict of interest.

    To this day, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has come clean concerning their involvement, or lack there of, during this 7-9 hour event. All the American people were told were a pack of lies about a video starting the whole thing when they knew within 24 hours it was a well planed attack by AQ. But that sure would have damaged Obama during his re-election campaign so all of this had to be buried, concealed and lied about.

    Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will not escape answering for their actions or inactions while many Americans were under direct AQ attack on the anniversary of 9/11. Was it total incompetence? Probably. But the American people deserve to know the truth, and not the pack of ies coming from the White House and State Dept.

    December 27, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. morrie

    Bottom line is Christie is a petty tyrant. He runs around acting as if he is a moderate when he is not. He is just another RWNJ and if elected he will cheerfully embrace all the bad policy of the republicans, starting with fixing the US out of Social Security, Medicare, and our pension benefits.

    December 27, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Want the real scoop? Talk to residents of Livingston, NJ where David Wildstein was on town council and was mayor for a brief period of time. They'll tell you all about his behavior, his uncontrolled ambitions, his crassness, his bullying, his rumor-mill political games, his personal attacks on people, the problems and divisions he caused, etc. He creeps people out, angers them, insults them, frightens them, belittles and berates, ogles, etc. He's a raving megalomaniacal nutcase who thinks he's the epitome of all Machiavelli espoused...he's Nietzsche's imaginary superman in his own mind.

    I'm not making this stuff up either. It's coming out all over the intertubez all over the place. CNN is just slow on the uptake and refuses to do their research for fear of what they'd uncover that might clue them in on the consequences of their IOKIYAR and false equivalence biases.

    December 27, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Donna

    I'm not making this stuff up either. It's coming out all over the intertubez all over the place.

    And if there is ONE THING we all know for sure is that if it in the internet then it must be true!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Thank you so so much for this wonderful piece of humor on this late Friday afternoon.

    And yet the people of NJ overwhelming re-elected him in a landslide. I just guess none of them look at the same intertubes you do! hahahhahaha....

    December 27, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Marcus (from...?)

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

    Issa belongs to the other party dude, what we like are facts and they are not good for Christie as they are. Sure, if Christie has any data or fact (not yet made public that is) that explains the case without making him look bad... then all he has to do is come up with this/these facts or data. So far he has tried, very poorly, to deflect the issue instead of facing it.

    December 27, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @Donna "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will not escape answering for their actions or inactions"

    I tell you what – let's put them on trial right after the Bush trial for the 1000's (that's more than 4) dead due to his lies in Iraq. AND right after GOP tells the American public why they repeatedly cut security funding for embassies.

    I have to be perfectly honest with you Donna, cries of Benghazi will drive voters to the left away from the crazy.

    December 27, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Hector Slagg

    Just another Bridge to cross. Shucks I am sorry Christie is telling all you Liberal's to go take a flying leap off the Empire State Building. But in case you didn't know, that's how they talk up there. You never watched ALL IN THE FAMILY ?

    December 27, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "I wonder why the Accountability Review Board never interviewed Hillary Clinton concerning her role before,"

    Do you ever have anything relevant to say? Clinton has absolutely nothing to do with this article. NOTHING. This is Bridgeghazi, not Benghazi. You guys have nothing left but manufactured crises and deflect and distract tactics. Christie hired a bad bad man to stick in the Port Authority as his goon to help him get it defunded and manufacture the justifications for doing so, and it looks to be backfiring quite spectacularly. Whether Christie was directly involved in shutting those lanes down and endangering the public or just indirectly involved because he's the one who put the crazy bugger in charge remains to be seen, but it's still a big problem for him.

    December 27, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Which reminds me: what better way to drum up support for defunding the Port Authority than a giant weeks long traffic jam, eh? The motivation was political, but it wasn't the revenge politics against the Mayor of Fort Lee. It was breaking gov't to "prove" it's broken so support for Christie's agenda of defunding the Port Authority would hopefully increase. The revenge narrative is a distraction. These guys thought they could generate a brilliant display of incompetence and watch the polls tick upwards in support of defunding.

    December 27, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. 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.

    December 27, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Why does the republican smear and distort team think democrats have taken a page out of the republican play book? Either Krispy's administrators did this because the governor directed them, or some right wing group wants to embarrass him to get Krispy out of the picture for the 2016 campaign.

    December 27, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. truth hurts but reality bites

    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.

    It makes in the fantasy leftist bubble so much easier.... You just keep running the same playbook over and over and over belieiving people will never notice the pattern. It also makes thinking optional.

    December 27, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Truth -Funniest post today. Keep up the humor.

    December 27, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Marcus (from...?)

    tom l – Maybe because most of the stories against the current administration that actually WERE investigated by GOP Senators or House Representatives didn't produced anything useful (for whatever purposes, criminal charges or political elections, they had when they started the investigations) or were easily debunked (going back to that edited video that caused a Federal employee to be unjustly fired)?
    Face it, Issa spent MILLIONS of dollars in investigations and hearings going after EVERY smoke signal he thought he manged to find in the scandal of the month... and he came with...?
    This particular case? If it's just smoke without any fire then Christie has nothing to fear about it, has he?

    December 27, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. IA

    If the guys a crook, by all means GET IT OUT IN THE OPEN! After all, lying should not be reserved exclusively for the politicians on the left without consequences.

    December 27, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    Too much of a bully and plenty of skeletons in his closet.

    December 27, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. ChrisM

    This little bridge stuff is nothing. Wait till the real Big stuff about Christie hits the fan . Oh, I would say about june 2016 it will start, unless they cant keep it under wraps for that long

    December 27, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. OK

    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?
    Think Again, don't hold your breath waiting for answers on any of those.

    December 27, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. rs

    If Christie initiated the closing of on-ramos (and, hence exits from Fort Lee, then he is a remarkably stupid man. If he put someone on his payroll to do stuff like that, he is remarkably stupid. If he really thinks that "I don't care" sloths the anger of folks who were stuck in non-moving traffic for a week, he's remarkably stupid.

    Thing is, Christie isn't stupid. Gee, CNN how about some reporting?

    December 27, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. MaryM

    This little bridge thing is nothing. Just wait till all the Big stuff comes out about Christie, about May 2016

    December 27, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. @RI_Roger

    One for One.... Every bridge question needs a Benghazi question. Let the principles personally answer the questions in a public video format to allow the public to determine the sincerity of the response. We all know the news media will clip & chop the long answers into self serving sound bites to promote their potential candidate. The American people are becoming less tolerant of the media short loop video/sound bites and are demanding the truth from "the mouths of babe"..

    December 28, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    This is another pathetic thug. GOP is cutting unemployment benefit to prove to another third world nation we are, put a dent on THIS PRESIDENT. Drive these thugs home in 2014. Straight democratic ticket. Hillary16. Period.

    December 28, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  23. 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.

    December 28, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Oh! Please !!!

    People there is nothing to see here. Why is this a controversy? Why are we not going after the IRS and Obama instead we are going after Christie over a illy bridge closing?

    December 28, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. jboh

    A bully is a bully who bullies anyone who disagrees w/him. He is just another TEA/GOP fraud pretending to be moderate.

    December 28, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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