Christie aide believed bridge lane closings were part of traffic study

A top-ranking official in the office of Gov. Chris Christie may be the last witness the New Jersey legislative committee investigating lane restrictions of the George Washington Bridge hear from in a while.

Regina Egea testified before the panel for most of the day Thursday, answering questions about position overseeing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the governor’s office.

When authority executive director Pat Foye sent an email saying that the lane closures violated the law, Egea said she took no action because she believed Foye would be investigating.

“I thought it was being looked at. So I thought the appropriate steps were being taken at the Port Authority since the executive director had made the accusation and said he wanted to look into it,” she said. “I certainly would have cooperated in any part of it.”

Egea also testified she deleted an email she had sent to the governor in which she praised the professionalism of two Port Authority officials who testified before lawmakers.

Saying she should have kept that record, Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he wondered why the governor’s office did not submit that email to the committee as part of the documents it turned over.

And, in answer to Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Egea indicated that she believed the lane closings were part of a traffic study.

“They produced data. One day they had an accident and they couldn’t really think the data was valuable, and they produced data,” she said. “So I found that helpful in appreciating that there was some intent as well as some information that supported the efforts that they undertook.”

As the questioning wrapped up Thursday evening, committee members said they reserve the right to call more witnesses, but probably will not anytime soon because they don’t want to impede and ongoing investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office into the four days of lane closures that caused massive traffic backups.

The closures, officially presented as part of a traffic study, are believed to have been politically motivated. A top aide to the governor who fired off the infamous “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email was fired for her part in the scandal, though she has never testified about whether she initiated the scheme.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said Thursday it’s its time for the legislative committee to stop spending taxpayers’ money on the hearings that have yielded no smoking gun.

“We’re paying attorney’s fees, we’re paying for advisers to this committee, we’ve got minority and majority staff working long hours on this issue when the U.S. attorney has basically said shut it down,” Bramnick said.

Democrats who chair the committee say there’s still more work to be done such as sifting through thousands of documents and considering further witnesses who might be called to testify in the future.

By the fall, however, the state panel is expected to have wrapped up its work and issued a report, said Weinberg.

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