Attorney: Port Authority Cops Complained About ‘Bridgegate’ Closures At The Time
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Drivers were not the only ones complaining about the massive traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey nearly a year ago.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, new documents obtained by CBS 2 showed that even Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers on duty during those four days called the situation “horrible” and a “nightmare.”
Attorney Dan Bibb, who works for the union representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officers, relayed information from 11 officers, including three who said they were told about the traffic change by a lieutenant who ordered them not to move the traffic cones blocking the lanes.
Bibb reported one officer, Steve Pisciotta, reported that he “used a police radio to report that the severe traffic was creating hazardous conditions.”
Pisciotta “further requested that the cones come down and that Fort Lee lanes be reopened,” according to Bibb.
But when he got a response on his police radio, Pisciotta was told to “shut up” by Deputy Inspector Darcy Licorish. Bibb said Pisciotta told him that Lt. Thomas Michaels and a sergeant visited him “to tell him that his radio communication had been inappropriate.”
He was also instructed that “there could be no further discussion of lane closures on the air,” according to Bibb.
State Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) is co-chair of the New Jersey legislative panel investigating the closures, which have been dubbed the “Bridgegate” scandal.
Bridget Kelly, then a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, sent a message to David Wildstein, a ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wisniewski said while Kelly stepped down in the wake of the scandal, he believes it goes much farther up the food chain.
While not directly answering a question about whether Gov. Chris Christie knew about the closures, Wisniewski said: “What I’m saying is it’s implausible that Bridget Kelley on her own was not only able to affect the movement of cones, but to get buy-in from all of these superior officers at Port Authority bridge crossing. It just does not pass smell test.”
The Port Authority declined to comment on the new revelations. Christie was traveling in Mexico Wednesday and did not respond, but he has denied any involvement in the lane closures.
But drivers said it was just another slap in the face nearly a year after they were caught in gridlock.
“They have a right to be angry,” said commuter Mike Datwani, “Because government is supposed to serve the people. This is not serving the people.”
New Jersey lawmakers said they plan to subpoena the Port Authority officers mentioned by Bibb. They were also trying to determine Wednesday whether audio tapes of the radio communications still exist.
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