On Sept. 13, Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye, an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, sent the following email to officials of the agency ordering a halt to closures of Fort Lee, N.J., access lanes to the George Washington Bridge:
From: Foye, Patrick
Date: September 13, 2013, 7:44:29 AM EDT
To: Fulton, Cedrick; Durando, Robert; Baroni,Bill; Dunne,Joseph P.; Koumoutsos, Louis; Zipf, Peter; Samson, David; Rechler, Scott; Buchbinder, Darrell
Subject: Fort Lee eastbound access to GWB
After reading last night's media pendings, I made inquiries and received calls on this matter which is very troubling. Here is what I learned: reversing over 25 years of PA GWB operations, the three lanes in Fort Lee eastbound to the GWB were reduced to one lane on Monday of this week without notifying Fort Lee, the commuting public we serve, the ED [executive director] or Media. A decision of this magnitude should be made only after careful deliberation and upon sign off by the ED. Reports are that Fort Lee has experienced severe traffic delays engulfing the entire Fort Lee area since Monday. I am appalled by the lack of process, failure to inform our customers and Fort Lee and most of all by the dangers created to the public interest, so I am reversing this decision now effective as soon as TBT [the authority's Tunnels, Bridges & Terminals division] and PAPD [Port Authority police] tell me it is safe to do so today.
I am making this decision for the following reasons:
1. This hasty and ill-advised decision has resulted in delays to emergency vehicles. I pray that no life has been lost or trip of a hospital- or hospice-bound patient delayed.
2. This hasty and ill-advised decision has undoubtedly had an adverse effect on economic activity in both states. That is contrary to the directive we have from our Governors to do everything possible to create jobs in both States.
3. I will not allow this hasty and ill-advised decision to delay the travels of those observing Yom Kippur tonight or the holidays to follow.
4. I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates Federal Law and the laws of both States.
To be clear, I will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for; I intend to learn how PA process was wrongfully subverted and the public interest damaged to say nothing of the credibility of this agency.
Finally, I am open to considering changes to each of our facilities if there is a case to be made that change will benefit the public interest. In the case of the Fort Lee eastbound access lanes, approval of this action will require:
1. Written sign off by TBT, Traffic Engineering and PAPD. That sign off was not sought or obtained here.
2. Prior discussion with the local government and a communication plan and plenty of advance notice to the commuting public. That did not occur here.
3. Consideration of the effects on emergency vehicles and sign off by PAPD. That did not occur here.
4. Consideration of the financial impact on the PA in terms of O/T. That too did not occur here.
Cedric and Bob -- please let this group know when access to three lanes in Fort Lee can be restored as soon as possible today. This is a matter of public safety and time is of the essence.