Transportation Comm. subpoenas Port Authority official

TRENTON – The Assembly Transportation Committee issued a subpoena Wednesday to compel Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Patrick Foye to appear before the panel.

Committee Chair Assemblyman John Wisniewski clearly was dissatisfied with the testimony Monday by Authority Deputy Executive Director and former Sen. Bill Baroni concerning the September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that made for a traffic nightmare in Fort Lee.

Three other Authority officials who had been asked to appear did not, and Baroni said they would not.

Democratic state lawmakers have been angry over what they see as the lack of adequate explanations regarding the lane closures.

Baroni essentially apologized before the committee on Monday for the way the closures were handled but sought to justify the traffic studies being done then as essential because 95 percent of bridge users are inconvenienced because three lanes are dedicated to host town Fort Lee, which comprises less than 5 percent of the commuters.

But the committee Democrats wanted answers about who made the decision to close the lanes, exacerbating already congested traffic and causing potential problems for emergency services vehicles.

The hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

In addition to having Foye appear before the panel, the committee also wants documents that cover a wide time period, including anything from Jan. 1 to now between Gov. Chris Christie and any Authority employee concerning the decision to reduce the Fort Lee lanes.

“Mr. Baroni’s unprofessional testimony created many more unanswered questions,” said Wisniewski in a release. “It’s important for the Legislature to understand the circumstances surrounding these lane closures, as the impact on emergency services from the inexplicable lack of notification could have resulted in the loss of life. It’s also now more than two months after the closure and no clear and convincing information has been forthcoming on how this decision was made and why it was suddenly necessary.”

Transportation Comm. subpoenas Port Authority official