Lanes are blocked to local traffic in September 2013 at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J.(Photo: The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record)
NEWARK, N.J. — A former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave her first explanation Friday of the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
Here are five things we didn't know before now, courtesy of Bridget Anne Kelly's court testimony:
1. She lived in constant fear of Christie, recounting an incident in September 2013.
Kelly suggested that the governor open a public event then pass control to other officials. Christie threw a water bottle at Kelly, shouting: “What do you think I am, a (expletive) game-show host?”
Kelly said she tried to move out of the way, but the bottle struck her arm.
2. She believed the lane reductions were legitimate, part of a traffic study.
That was based on information David Wildstein, a Christie-appointed executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, gave her in 2011 and in summer 2013. Wildstein told Kelly the study sought to reduce traffic delays by taking local access lanes from Fort Lee and increasing the number of toll booths available to the majority of vehicles crossing the Hudson River from New Jersey.
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - SEPTEMBER 14: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks Sept. 14, 2013, to business owners affected by a massive fire that burned a large portion of the Seaside Park boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. (Photo: Julio Cortez, Getty Images)
3. Christie knew the lane closures were coming about a month before.
Kelly told him Aug. 12, 2013, she testified. At the time, Kelly said Wildstein had an idea to hold a media event after the completion of the study at which Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could announce an improvement in traffic flow.
Christie approved and, according to Kelly, told her to inform his chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, which Kelly did.
4. The infamous email repeated what Wildstein had told her.
The eight-word August 2013 email to Wildstein — “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” was “parroting exactly what David had told me,” she said.
Wildstein had warned her that the study would create traffic problems in Fort Lee. Once Christie signed off on the study, she dashed off the email to him.
5. Christie also knew about the backups in Fort Lee.
On Sept. 11, 2013, Kelly said she told Christie that the governor’s office had received phone calls about public safety concerns because of the traffic problems. Christie responded that Wildstein had told him about the issue that same day and that the Port Authority was handling the situation.
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