Matt Katz, New Jersey Public Radio
New Jersey legislators are grilling top officials at the Port Authority about a decision to close local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in September that backed up traffic for days through Fort Lee.
"You are a masterful dancer and we appreciate your dancing skills," Assemblyman John Wisniewski told Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director at the Port Authority. Baroni is a former legislator who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.
In his testimony today, Baroni explained that mayors and transportation officials were not notified about the lane closures due to a communication failure.
He said the closures were necessary as part of a study to determine if travelers on the main entrance lanes were experiencing delays due to three local lanes that operate out of Fort Lee, the town at the foot of the bridge.
The closures caused huge traffic jams and came as a surprise to government officials and local police, who are usually notified of upcoming road closures.
Baroni has experience holding his own at tough legislative hearings. He battled with the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg last year at one appearance.
Baroni offered to take Wisniewski, chair of the Assembly's transportation committee, on a field trip to the George Washington Bridge, and said he would provide lunch.
"I’d want it to get tested first," Wisniewski replied.