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Officials On George Washington Bridge Closures: There Was No Traffic Study

Lawmakers Seek Answers Over September Gridlock
George Washington Bridge (file/credit: CBS 2)

George Washington Bridge (file/credit: CBS 2)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three Port Authoritiy officials testified Monday that there was no traffic study being conducted while access lanes from Fort Lee on the George Washington Bridge were closed in September, as was originally claimed.

Appearing before the the state Assembly’s Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, the officials also said the closure was ordered by David Wildstein, the second-highest appointee from New Jersey.

Executive Director Patrick Foye told the committee he would have fired Wildstein, but he’s not in the position to do that.

Foye testified that he had a conversation about the closures with Wildstein’s supervisor, Bill Baroni.

“I told him it was absolutely outrageous, unacceptable,” Foye said.

Bridge officials told the committee that Wildstein told them not to tell Fort Lee officials or Foye.

Some Democrats believe Wildstein was sending a message to the Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Gov. Chris Christie in his re-election bid.

Wildstein announced his resignation Friday but continues to collect his six-figure paycheck.

Baroni testified last month that the lanes were closed for a traffic study.

“Unfortunately, Bill Baroni’s testimony raised more questions than answers and it added another layer of suspicion to the whole fiasco,” Wisniewski told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

Cedrick Fulton, the director of bridges and tunnels, testified that he knew beforehand that the closures would cause gridlock in Fort Lee.

Fulton said he told his boss “this will not end well” before the lanes were closed in September.

The governor has denied any involvement.

The lanes were reopened after three days because of the congestion.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)