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Sunday May 1st, 2016 9:44AM

Messages link NJ governor's aide to lane closures

By The Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is linked through emails and text messages to a seemingly deliberate plan to create traffic gridlock in a town at the base of a major bridge after its mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly wrote to David Wildstein, a top political appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey and New York City, one of the world's busiest spans.

Kelly wrote the email on Aug. 13, about a month before two of three local access lanes to the bridge were diverted, causing hour-long backups in Fort Lee during the first week of school. The message was among a series of emails and texts obtained by The Associated Press and other news outlets Wednesday that are the clearest sign yet that Christie aides were involved in the lane closures.

Christie, a star in the Republican Party who's considered a possible candidate for president in 2016, has denied that the lane closings were punitive and has said his staff was not involved. After the emails were made public Wednesday, he abruptly postponed a scheduled morning event.

Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, has resigned over the lane closings. He is scheduled to testify under oath before a state Assembly committee conducting one of three ongoing investigations into the lane closings.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, originally described the closings as punitive, but later backed off that assertion.

The communications showed an unattributed observation to Sokolich's plead for help on the second day of the closings: "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?"
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