Authority’s Fulton distances self from unusual handling of Fort Lee lane closures

TRENTON – A Port Authority official told state lawmakers Monday that after seeing how congested Fort Lee traffic had become on the first day of lane closures Sept. 9, he expressed his concern that day to the Authority official who he said had made the decision to close them.

Cedrick Fulton, the man in charge of tunnels, bridges and terminals, told Assembly Transportation Chair John Wisniewski that he spoke by phone with since-resigned official David Wildstein about the problems being caused by the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Fulton said he told Wildstein “that it wasn’t being missed, that (general Manager) Mr. Durando’s office was receiving calls. There were a lot of calls coming in.’’

“I told him that I was concerned, and he asked me why I was concerned,’’ Fulton said.

He said Wildstein just told him that the traffic studies needed to be conducted.

Fulton said that he spoke with Authority general manager Robert Durando that Monday morning who informed him that “there was congestion in Fort Lee.’’

Fulton in his testimony to the Transportation panel today has made it clear he would not have planned for nor conducted this Fort Lee lane closure in the manner in which it was handled.

He told the panel he raised questions about informing Fort Lee officials or the Authority executive director this was being planned and that Wildstein told him not to worry about that.

Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni has previously told the panel that a study needed to be done as to why host town Fort Lee has three dedicated lanes, inconveniencing the majority of bridge users.  He has acknowledged the decision could have been handled better.

He also said that by Day Four, Thursday, Sept. 12, he had not been contacted by Executive Director Patrick Foye about the study.

He testified that he did receive an email Sept. 13 from him asking that the cones be moved to restore three lanes.

Foye had raised questions as to whether the closures violated laws.

Fulton reiterated that he did not contact Baroni because that would have been perceived as bypassing the chain of command.

Authority’s Fulton distances self from unusual handling of Fort Lee lane closures