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Committee Hears from Egea About GWB Lane Closures

7-17-14

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Regina Egea told the Select Committee on Investigation that tensions were so great between Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye of New York and Deputy Director Bill Baroni of New Jersey that when Foye put out an angry email shutting down the Jersey side’s week-long traffic study, she assumed it was just political infighting.

“The tension between the executive director and the deputy I view as kind of internal politics inside the Port Authority,” Egea said.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski asked, “And so because you thought it was political you really didn’t ratchet your curiosity about this?”

Egea replied, “I was as curious as anyone. I was awaiting the executive director’s review.”

Wisniewski asked, “You were curious, but you can’t produce an email that shows your curiosity. You were curious but you can’t recall a specific phone call on which you asked about? How’s that being curious?”

Egea directs Gov. Chris Christie’s authorities unit overseeing 53 authorities, commissions and bi-state agencies.

She is also Christie’s choice to be his next chief of staff.

Baroni copied her on the Foye email three hours after it went out — importance high — but she didn’t get in a whirl over it, she testified, because Foye said he was launching his own review.

“Was there anything about the situation that made you think you should look at it a little further?” asked Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg.

Egea replied, “As I said, I thought it was being looked at. … Again, I was awaiting for the evidence to support the accusation, and it was in the context of it seemed to be a continuing battle between the executive director and the deputy and it was something that I wanted to have more information about before I elevated it.”

Wisniewski asked, “In his email Pat Foye says emergency vehicles may have been delayed, laws may have been broken and you took a hands-off approach and saying let’s see what happens?”

“You are the liaison to the governor’s office between all of the authorities, the most important authority is the Port Authority of New York New Jersey, it’s the largest one, nothing?” asked Assemblyman Paul Moriarty.

Last November, Baroni testified that the lanes on the George Washington Bridge were realigned for a week to do a traffic study.

Egea helped edit Baroni’s opening statement that day, and stood by it today.

“Do you believe today there was a legitimate traffic study?” asked Weinberg.

Egea replied, “They produced data within. … They did not communicate well and there were parts of the study that were not done well, but they did produce data.”

“For most people that have looked at the evidence, the only people that still believe there’s a traffic study or people that also believe in the tooth fairy,” Moriarty said.

Egea once put in an email that she and others were sticking to the script on the bridge issue.

Today she explained that’s what you say when you’re waiting for more information.