Chris Christie Somehow Involved in Second Bridge Scandal

At issue is diverted Port Authority funding being used to repair the Pulaski Skyway, which is owned by the State of New Jersey.

AP Photo | Mel Evans

AP Photo | Mel Evans

Chris Christie is being investigated in a second bridge scandal, according to a report from the New York Times. The investigation — which the Times sourced to “people briefed on the matter” — centers on renovations to the Pulaski Skyway.

The Skyway, which opened in 1932, is notoriously unreliable. (“Unpredictable traffic congestion and its functionally obsolete design makes the Skyway one of the most unreliable roads in the United States,” Wikipedia helpfully notes.) The bridge closed to Northbound traffic as part of a massive overhaul in April. In 2010 and 2011, Christie wanted to use Port Authority money for repairs on the obsolete bridge. The problem? The Port Authority doesn’t own the bridge, the state does, and so it couldn’t.

But Christie persisted, and the authority justified the use of the money by calling the Skyway an access route to the Lincoln Tunnel. The Skyway actually connects to the Holland Tunnel, which is not eligible for Port Authority funds. The money for Skyway repairs was coming from the $3 billion in Port Authority money freed up when Christie killed the ARC trans-Hudson tunnel project in 2010.

Here’s how Christie could be in trouble, per the Times:

In bond documents describing the Skyway reconstruction and other repairs, the Port Authority has called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements.”

The accuracy of this characterization is now a major focus of the investigations, according to several people briefed on the matter. Under a New York State law known as the Martin Act, prosecutors can bring felony charges for intentionally deceiving bond holders, without having to prove any intent to defraud or even establish that any fraud occurred.

Lawyers with the Port Authority expressed concern with how the money was being spent. Transportation experts say most motorists do not use the Skyway (and three other New Jersey roads being repaired with Port Authority funding) as an access route to the Lincoln Tunnel.

[NYT | The Record | The Star-Ledger]