January 11

Emails show Christie administration stonewalling bridge questions

One of Gov. Chris Christie’s top officials watched in person and texted updates during the traffic mayhem.

The Washington Post

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, second left, arrives at Fort Lee, N.J., City Hall on Thursday, where he apologized in person to Mayor Mark Sokolich for the closure of two entrances to the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic in September.

The Associated Press

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Throughout the fall, local reporters peppered Steve Coleman, the Port Authority’s spokesman, with questions about the lane closings.

On Oct. 9, Philippe Danielides, a senior adviser to Samson, emailed Wildstein a summary of that day’s news media stories and wrote, “Has any thought been given to writing an op-ed or providing a statement about the GWB study? Or is the plan just to hunker down and grit our way through it?”

Wildstein’s three-word reply: “Yes and yes.” He later forwarded the exchange to Baroni.

Rush-hour traffic on the George Washington Bridge is rarely smooth, but the cache of emails shows how ugly it got on the first day of the lane closures. Wildstein watched the mayhem he helped mastermind from the scene, texting detailed updates on Monday’s rush-hour traffic congestion in Fort Lee, the documents show.

Orange cones were set out before the sun rose blocking two of the bridge’s three local access lanes and forcing commuters to merge into one painfully slow toll lane. There was nowhere special for “EZ-Pass” drivers; everyone waited to pay the $13 toll in the “CASH” lane.

Two separate queues stretched down Fort Lee’s narrow streets for half a mile until noon each day. At 10 a.m., an estimated 550 vehicles were lined up in Fort Lee awaiting access to the bridge, according to the Port Authority’s traffic study.

Over a four-hour period, a total of 2,800 hours were lost to traffic delay, the study said.

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