(TRENTON) – Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Assembly transportation committee, released the following statement after hearing testimony from Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, on the agency’s decision to close – without prior public notice – access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13:
“Mr. Baroni’s testimony left many questions unanswered.
“This is an agency responsible for moving millions of people every day. For it to engage in a drastic maneuver such as closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge without notice and with the executive director being out of the loop raises serious concerns.
“It’s very alarming that this agency could act so cavalierly and come here with a smug attitude and not be forthcoming. Even when we asked for the data Mr. Baroni relied on for his testimony, we were told his attorney would have to consider it. The data is the data, and should speak for itself. I’m not sure what the state secret is here.
“At best these lane closures were clumsy and ham-handed and not befitting an agency that is entrusted with handling billions of dollars every year. At worst, this was political mischief by, among others, a political appointee who was not made available for testimony. Either way, it’s troubling that an agency this large could have that little accountability.
“We’re going to consider what we do next.
“Executive Director Foye said he wasn’t available today, so we’ve asked him to give us dates that he’d be available to come and we’d like to have him come and testify.
“We’d also like to have Mr. Wildstein come before the committee to answer why suddenly in September 2013 it was important to close these lanes.”