Earlier today, Jay Rockefeller, whose U. S. Senate committee is conducting its own probe into the Bridgegate affair, declared that based on the Port Authority's response to his committee's questions about how it was handled, there was no evidence a traffic study was even in the works. However, what's worth noting is something the Port Authority's formal response didn't say--why the closures were implemented in the first place.
"Given that the issue is under investigation and the Board still does not have many of the facts as to the motivations behind actions taken at the GWB, the information being provided to you outlines the normal process of the Port Authority with respect to toll lane closures and the operational decisions made at this point in time," stated the Jan. 15 letter, which was signed by Board Secretary Karen Eastman.Read the Port Authority's response here. It outlines the standard procedure for closing lanes and conducting traffic studies--a procedure that was not followed during the four-day nightmare on the bridge.
The answers that were provided, Eastman told Rockefeller, were gleaned from public testimony before an Assembly panel on Dec. 6 by Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, Director of Bridges Tunnels and Terminals Cedric Fulton, and GWB General Manager Robert Durando.
The letter also throws David Wildstein and Bill Baroni under the bus. Wildstein ordered the changes on September 6, but told bridge officials not to tell Foye about them. The lanes were closed despite vociferous objections from the Port Authority's own engineers, who were concerned they would cause sideswipe crashes and other problems. It also reveals that when Baroni told a New Jersey state assembly panel that the closures were part of a traffic study, he did not seek board approval to make that statement.
So now we know just how outrageous this was. The people behind this stunt pulled this despite being told in capital letters that this was a potential disaster waiting to happen--and yet, did it anyway. This letter removes any doubt that Bridgegate was a criminal act. There's a legal term for what these people were doing--reckless endangerment. For the plaintiffs' lawyers in the two lawsuits that have arisen out of this, this letter is a godsend. And yet, there's no word as to why this happened--no formal word anyway. Hopefully that will come sooner than later.