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Port Authority Board Chairman Issues Apology Over GWB Lane Closure Scandal

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A public apology has come from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over the gridlock-causing lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September.

The mea culpa came following the first meeting of a newly-minted oversight panel.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, more than five months after the bridge lane closures, the Port Authority board chairman issued an apology.

“On behalf of the board of commissioners, we are deeply sorry for inconvenience caused to our travelers,” Port Authority Board Chairman David Samson said Wednesday afternoon.

The chairman added he would not allow the agency to be “mischaracterized” by the actions of a few individuals.

William “Pat” Schuber, a member of the board of commissioners, proposed the idea of an apology.

Commissioner Scott Rechler and vice chairman of the Special Oversight Committee Richard Bagger embraced the idea.

“To not only ensure that what happened last September doesn’t happen again, but to raise the level of the agency’s performance in meeting its mission throughout the agency,” Rechler said.

The Special Oversight Committee was created after a Christie appointee to the agency ordered lanes near the George Washington Bridge closed in an alleged act of political retribution.

The committee is tasked with increasing transparency in light of the scandal, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.

For some members of the public, the Port Authority’s oversight committee is a half-hearted fix, Burrell reported.

“For years now, they have been mismanaged and misled by political hacks for both parties who have little interest in what the Port Authority was created to do,” said Richard Hughes, of the Twin Towers Alliance.

Chairman Samson, a Christie appointee who is also on the oversight committee, has been subpoenaed in the investigation.

He was even implicated in an email from former Port Authority appointee David Wildstein, who in the days following the traffic jams wrote “Samson helping us retaliate.”

In emails, Samson also accused Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye of “stirring up trouble” in the days following the closures, Burrell reported.

Foye wouldn’t comment on whether he believes Samson should remain on the oversight committee. He also said he doesn’t expect an apology from Samson.

The New Jersey legislative committee tasked with investigating the lane closures asked a judge on Wednesday to enforce subpoenas for Gov. Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien and former staffer Bridget Kelly.

Both have refused to turn over documents, citing their Fifth Amendment rights.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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.)