The mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. is disputing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's claim that top transportation officials were unaware of gridlock caused by lane closures in September on the George Washington Bridge, the Bergen Record reported Friday.
Christie suggested at a press conference Thursday that local authorities never notified the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's executive director, Patrick Foye, of the supposed traffic study that closed down lanes on the bridge and paralyzed traffic in Fort Lee.
“Did the Fort Lee officials — law enforcement, political — lose his number? Could they not get it and find him somehow? How did this happen exactly?” Christie asked, as quoted by the Bergen Record.
But Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich challenged that claim Friday and said borough officials called "at least five or six" people at the Port Authority.
“Fort Lee incessantly called,” Sokolich said, as quoted by the Bergen Record. “We called the contacts that we always called whenever there was an event. We did not depart from protocol that had been established for 20 years. … We called everybody that we were supposed to call.”
State Democrats have suggested that Christie's Port Authority appointees ordered the lane closures because Sokolich didn't support the governor's re-election bid. Sokolich himself said he believed he was being sent "some sort of message" by the lane closures on the bridge.
Christie has denied any wrongdoing on his part in the bridge scandal and asserted that his appointees were truthful in explaining that the lane closures resulted from a "traffic study." Two of Christie's appointees resigned earlier this month as criticism of the lane closures grew.