Port Authority Grilled Over Unannounced George Washington Bridge Lane Closures

Access lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge were closed without notice for four days last month

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    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey came under fire Monday for unannounced lane closures at the George Washington Bridge last month that created massive traffic backups.

    After state Sen. Loretta Weinberg spent about five minutes asking members of the authority's committee on governance and ethics for answers as to why there apparently wasn't any notification to local officials, the committee took up its scheduled business: An overview of corporate governance and ethics trends and how they might apply to the Port Authority.

    Weinberg found irony in the juxtaposition.

    "You look at their regulations about transparency, about ethics and accountability, and this will be a good test about how they follow their own rules," she said.

    Published reports described the closures of access lanes from Fort Lee onto the bridge as part of a traffic study that lasted four days beginning Sept. 9. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye sent a scathing letter to top executives about the closures and called them "abusive" and said Port Authority police and local police weren't notified.

    Foye attended Monday's committee meeting but didn't discuss the lane closures during the meeting's public portion.

    Weinberg, whose district includes fort Lee and neighboring towns, said the Senate or Assembly might use its subpoena power to probe the closures if answers aren't forthcoming.

    "If we don't get answers here, that might be our next step," she said. "I'll come into the Port Authority again and again until we get answers."

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