Ft. Lee residents told in September that lane closures were punitive

Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich sent a letter to former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni in September revealing Port Authority Police Officers had told commuters inconvenienced by lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that the lanes were closed as punishment to the mayor.

In a Sept. 12 letter, Sokolich told Baroni that the unnanounced lane closures “wreaked havoc” on Fort Lee and “negatively impacted public safety.”

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“Adding insult to injury,” he added, “many members of the public have indicated to me that the Port Authority Police Officers are advising commuters in response to their complaints that this traffic debacle is the result of a decision that I, as the Mayor, recently made.”

Democrats have suggested the closure of two entry lanes to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September that snarled traffic in Fort Lee were an act of retribution against Sokolich for declining to endorse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for reelection.

Emails released earlier this week indicated a top Christie official had a hand in the lane closures. Christie went on to fire that staffer and remove another from prominent political appointments, and to apologize to Sokolich and the people of Fort Lee.

In the Sept. 12 letter, part of a newly public cache of documents received under a subpoena issued by a state assembly committee investigating the closures, Sokolich said he has “incessantly attempted to contact Port Authority representatives to no avail,” and pleads with Baroni to contact him to find a solution to the situation.

“Please call me as soon as possible in the hopes that we can resolve this issue and reverse a policy change that is wreaking havoc on Fort Lee,” he wrote.