In a letter to a Port Authority executive on Sept. 12, Fort Lee, N.J. Mayor Mark Sokolich complained that the agency’s police officers were telling commuters that the George Washington Bridge lane closings were his fault.
“[M]any members of the public have indicated to me that the Port Authority Police Officers are advising commuters in response to their complaints that this recent traffic debacle is the result of a decision that I, as the Mayor, recently made,” Sokolich wrote to Bill Baroni, who was the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until he resigned last month.
The letter was among the thousands of pages of documents released Friday by a New Jersey legislative committee that has been investigating the incident. The lane closings, which began Sept. 9, led to a massive, multi-day traffic jam in Fort Lee. Democrats in the state have for months alleged that the lanes were closed as retaliation against Sokolich, a Democrat, who declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid last year. The released documents include communications tying the administration of Gov. Chris Christie (R) to the decision to close the lanes.
In his letter on Sept. 12, Sokolich wrote that he had been “incessantly” attempting to contact Port Authority officials “to no avail.”
“I am writing this correspondence to you and am refraining from copying any other party in the hopes that a recent decision by the Port Authority will be reversed quietly, uneventfully and without political fanfare,” Sokolich wrote.
Baroni, who was appointed to the Port Authority by Christie, has testified that the lanes on the bridge were closed as the result of a traffic study.