Wisniewski Subpoenas Port Authority of NY & NJ Executive Director to Explain George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

Orders PANYNJ Chief to Appear at Special Dec. 9 Hearing in Trenton

(TRENTON) – Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski on Wednesday subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s executive director to attend a special December hearing on the agency’s finances and its decision to close lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.
Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the Assembly transportation committee chairman, ordered Patrick Foye, the authority’s executive director, to appear at a special Dec. 9 hearing in Trenton.
The subpoena comes after the authority’s deputy director, Bill Baroni, refused on Monday to directly answer many committee questions on the lane closures and provide data to support his testimony.
“Mr. Baroni’s unprofessional testimony created many more unanswered questions,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “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.”
Foye is ordered to appear for the 10 a.m., Dec. 9 hearing at the State House and produce documents, correspondence, books, papers and other writings requested by the panel.
“The committee has a responsibility to its constituents to obtain answers to these questions and ensure that protections are in place to guarantee such an event will not happen again,” Wisniewski said. “We need to know whether this was incompetence or political mischief by political appointees. A more public and thorough discussion of these issues is necessary, and I look forward to Mr. Foye’s input.”
Under the subpoena, Foye is compelled to appear to testify and asked to produce:
· All documents and correspondence, produced between Jan. 1, 2013 and the present date between Gov. Chris Christie or any member of his administration and/or any employee, officer, or executive of the Port Authority, concerning the decision to reduce from three to one, the eastbound Fort Lee, New Jersey access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9, 2013 through Sept. 13, 2013;
· All documents and correspondence, produced between Jan. 1, 2013 and the present date, between and among employees, executives, or officers of the Port Authority, including any documents and correspondence sent or received by David Wildstein, Director of Interstate Capital Projects concerning the decision to reduce from three to one, the eastbound Fort Lee, New Jersey access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9, 2013 through Sept. 13, 2013;
· All documents and correspondence referenced and cited to by Baroni at Monday’s Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee meeting, including, but not limited to, any traffic count, traffic report, or traffic study, produced by any employee, executive, or officer of the Port Authority or any third party working on behalf of any employee, executive, or officer of the Port Authority related to the decision to reduce from three to one, the eastbound Fort Lee, New Jersey access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9, 2013 through Sept. 13, 2013;
· All documents and correspondence supporting Mr. Baroni’s assertion at the Monday New Jersey Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee meeting that: (a) on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 the General Manager of the George Washington Bridge noted a four minute reduction in travel time for commuters using the I-95 approach to the George Washington Bridge and a three minute reduction in travel time for commuters using local road approaches to the George Washington Bridge; (b) on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 the General Manager of the George Washington Bridge noted a reduction in travel time for commuters using the I-95 approach and the local road approaches to the George Washington Bridge; and (c) 105,000 regular EZ-Pass users cross the George Washington Bridge each morning and 4,839 of those users are from Fort Lee, New Jersey;
· Copies of all rules, regulations, or written policies of the Port Authority concerning the process for closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Copies of all rules, regulations, or written policies of the Port Authority concerning the process for approving and conducting traffic studies, including, but not limited to any rules, regulations, or written policies concerning public and law enforcement notification of lane closures in relation to traffic studies; and
· All information concerning the impact on toll collections or any other economic impact to the Port Authority or the New York, New Jersey Metropolitan Region resulting from the decision to reduce from three to one, the eastbound Fort Lee, New Jersey access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Sept. 9, 2013 through Sept. 13, 2013.