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Christie Aide Says Bridge Closings Produced Data for Study

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Regina Egea, the former head of Governor Chris Christie’s authorities unit, told lawmakers that intentional lane closings last year at the George Washington Bridge produced data and said they were for a traffic study.

“They didn’t communicate well,” Egea, said today at a hearing in the Trenton statehouse, referring to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. “But they did provide data.”

Egea, who is to be Christie’s chief of staff, is the fifth member of the governor’s administration to testify in a Democratic investigation into the lane closings last September in Fort Lee, where the mayor didn’t endorse Christie’s re-election. E-mails from Christie’s aides and appointees in which they discussed a plan to clog the span surfaced in January.

The Republican governor and allies at the Port Authority have said they believed the closings were done to study the effect of reducing local-access lanes at the bridge.

Christie, who won a second term in November, has denied that he played any role in the incident. Questions of who ordered the traffic jam and why have damaged his approval ratings and tarnished his prospects for a 2016 White House run. The closings also are being investigated by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority, told Egea the closings were done for a study after Executive Director Patrick Foye said in an e-mail they appeared arbitrary and could have violated state and federal laws. She said today that she considered his claims “unsubstantiated.”

Under questioning, Egea said she deleted at least one bridge-related text exchange that she’d had with Christie. Egea said she believed the messages were being archived.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Alan Goldstein

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