Gov. Chris Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority resigned Friday amid an ongoing probe into what some have said was a politically-motivated decision to close lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge.
At a Trenton press conference, Christie announced Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni would leave his post immediately. Baroni is the second agency official to step down over the lane closures, which snarled local traffic and were seen by some as a swipe at Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s reelection bid.
Christie said Baroni’s resignation was planned, but acknowledged his appointees at the bi-state agency made mistakes and the issue had become a distraction. The governor tapped former federal prosecutor and a top aide, Deborah Gramiccioni, as the Port Authority’s new deputy executive director.
The first Port Authority official to resign, Christie’s high school classmate David Wildstein, ordered the closures and told bridge authorities not to alert Fort Lee officials ahead of the change in September.
Democrats have been holding hearings on the closures and the Port Authority’s Inspector General is reportedly probing any possible criminal violations involving the lane closures.