Reposted from Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. by pierre9045
Patrick Foye was subpoenaed to appear. He did so willingly. He did so seriously. Unlike some of his associates from his workplace -- this unique Intrastate Agency with quite the sizable budget:
your budget is bigger than 26 U.S. states
according the Chairman of that investigation committee, NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (on pg 190).
The testimony of Patrick Foye starts on page 140 of this Document, which is the transcript of Committee Meeting of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works And Independent Authorities Committee (NJ), which happened on December 9, 2013.
Patrick Foye provided his testimony, without the benefit of an attorney present, as was his right. As was explained to him here:
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Do you understand that you have certain rights under the Code of Fair Procedure, including the right to be accompanied by counsel who would be permitted to confer with you during the questioning, and advise you of your rights, and submit proposed questions on your behalf?
MR. FOYE: Yes, sir.
So without further introductory-setup, here are some of the more interesting highlights
, from the sworn testimony to that NJ Committee, from Patrick Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
(appointed by New York Governor, to his 'top dog', "the buck stops here" position.)
MR. FOYE: [...]
Regarding the decision to restrict access from local roads in Fort Lee from three lanes to one, let me start by laying out the standards we employ when a traffic alteration is contemplated at any of our facilities. First: Written sign-off by the Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals Department, as well as by Traffic Engineering and the Port Authority Police Department. Second: Prior discussion with the local governments and host communities, a communications plan, and plenty of advance notice to the commuting public. Third: Consideration of the effects on emergency vehicles. And fourth: Consideration of the financial impact on the Port Authority in terms of additional costs, including overtime, given the public we serve.
While my review of the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge for four days during the week of September 9 is continuing, it is clear that the closure met none of these conditions. After inquiring with Bridge personnel on what I deemed an ill-advised operation, I ordered the immediate reopening of the lanes as quickly and safely as possible. I also made clear that changes to Fort Lee access lanes would require the same due diligence we apply throughout our facilities.
In the time that has lapsed since the unannounced closures, I have learned, as has this Committee, that the agency’s Director of Interstate Capital Projects, David Wildstein, made the decision on or about September 5 to restrict local access lanes to the upper level toll plaza in Fort Lee from three lanes to one. Wildstein failed to provide notice to the leadership of our Public Safety Department, including our Chief Security Officer and the Chief of the Department, or to the Borough of Fort Lee, Fort Lee Police and first responders, other Bergen County communities, the commuting public, or senior leadership within the Port Authority, including me.
As a result of his decision, commuters entering the George Washington Bridge that week were subjected to hours of gridlock, and the Borough of Fort Lee was, for all intents and purposes, shut down during the morning rush. Drivers complained of up to 4-hour commutes, and Port Authority Police expended significant resources to create traffic diversions to safely control the massive back up of vehicles on Fort Lee roads. September 9 was also the first day of school for many children in the surrounding communities, and we now know that there were reports from parents and local schools that many school buses were delayed due to the unnecessary gridlock that engulfed the Borough of Fort Lee.
Most alarmingly however, it has been reported that ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, and other public safety vehicles were also needlessly delayed, putting the public’s safety at risk. Thankfully, it appears there was no resulting loss of life due to the closures. However, that is of little comfort to me or my colleagues at the Port Authority who believe that the safety of the traveling public is the Port Authority’s number one priority.
Let me be clear, the decision to restrict local access to the George Washington Bridge during the morning rush bypassed normal operating procedures, without proper transparency and openness. And it directly violated our agency’s primary responsibility to protect our customers and personnel.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: Okay. You said you’ve had a number of conversations with Mr. Baroni regarding this incident.
MR. FOYE: Yes.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: Did he, at any time during those conversations, explain why this decision was made on the part of Wildstein to do these lane closures?
MR. FOYE: Traffic study.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: And that was the best he could give you, or gave you, in terms of rationale for causing all of this?
MR. FOYE: That was the rationale.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: Okay. You know there’s been a lot of speculation that these lane closures were done for political purpose because of the issues with the Mayor in Fort Lee. And when you’ve had these conversations with Wildstein, did he make any reference to his decision having to have political purpose?
MR. FOYE: So, Vice Chair, just to be clear, I’ve had no conversations with Wildstein. I’ve spoken with Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. And the answer to your question is no.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: So you accepted their statement, their rationale that they put people at risk, and spent money, and created tremendous upheaval solely for the purpose of a traffic study?
MR. FOYE: I don’t.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: You don’t. Why do you think they did it?
MR. FOYE: I’m not aware of any traffic study. I don’t know why it was done.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN STENDER: Thank you.