By Keith Laing - 12/16/13 05:59 PM EST
The chairman of a crucial transportation oversight committee is asking for information about allegations that lanes on a bridge that connects New Jersey to New York were closed at the behest of Gov. Chris Christie (R).
Christie has been accused by New Jersey Democrats of directing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in retribution for a Democratic mayor declining to endorse his bid for reelection.
Christie has denied being involved in the lane closure decision, which occurred in September, two months before the New Jersey governor was reelected by a wide margin.
Now Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants to take a look at the pre-election lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, which carries 102 million vehicles per year between Manhattan and Fort Lee, N.J.
“While this type of decision tends to be local in nature, I am concerned about the larger federal implications of what appears to be political appointees abusing their power to hamper interstate commerce and safety without public notice," Rockefeller, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, wrote in a letter to the Port Authority.
“It also exacerbates my concerns with the governance and previous oversight of the Port Authority.”
Rockefeller said in a statement announcing the letter that he thought the lane closure allegations "demands a comprehensive investigation."
“Unwarranted lane closures with no public notice can have serious ramifications on interstate commerce and safety in the region, and as the Committee with oversight responsibility of the Port Authority, I continue to have serious concerns about the actions of this agency," he said.
In his letter to the Port Authority, he said the George Washington Bridge was the busiest bridge in the U.S. and that decisions about lane closures on the bridge required forethought.
"Perhaps most concerning are unanswered questions about why no systems were in place to prevent and immediately correct what appears to be a significant abuse of power by a few appointees," Rockefeller wrote.