EDISON - Newly released 911 calls and police radio communications show Fort Lee residents and first responders alike dealing with the gridlock caused by the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge last year.
"Fort Lee traffic is a nightmare," a first responder can be heard saying, while a police dispatcher responds, "Ten-four, we're getting calls from irate motorists."
The tapes reveal often frustrated first responders trying to do their jobs amid the snarled traffic.
"You're aware the town is in total gridlock, correct?" one says. A dispatcher advises another officer, "The GW Bridge is totally gridlocked, if you can come up maybe Fort Lee Road or something to that effect."
Emergency calls show residents frustrated as well. At 7:54 a.m. on Sept. 10, the second day of the lane closures, a resident tells a 911 operator, "I called you, where are they?" When the operator replies that the crew is on the way, the resident replies, "Yes, but you know, it's an emergency. And they are still not here." The same woman calls back again, even more agitated, three minutes later.
The tapes also include an emergency call made at 8:43 a.m. on Sept. 9, when a home health aide told a 911 operator that she discovered 91-year-old Florence Genova unconscious in her home. It took first responders seven minutes to get to her home, triple the normal response time, and by the time they arrived, Genova had died. However, her family has said they do not blame her death on the traffic.
The lane closures were allegedly motivated by political payback, and have led to the firing of a top Christie aide and investigations by both the state Legislature and the U.S. Attorney.