TRENTON, N.J., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Friday called the flap over the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge "a whole lot of hullabaloo."
The governor announced the resignation of Bill Baroni, a longtime Christie friend and ally, as deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, CNN reported. Baroni, a former state senator, was New Jersey's highest official in the agency.
Another old friend of the governor, Doug Wildstein, resigned from the agency last week.
Several access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., were closed in September, supposedly for a traffic study. Earlier this week, Port Authority employees testified before a New Jersey legislative hearing that the closings caused massive delays and hampered emergency vehicles, the New York Times reported.
Critics have suggested Baroni and Wildstein orchestrated the closings as political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee, who had refused to join a number of other Democratic leaders in backing the Republican governor's re-election bid. Christie said that he never gave a thought to the mayor and the traffic study was first proposed in 2010, CNN said.
Christie called the controversy "manufactured" and dismissed it as a "whole lot of hullabaloo."
But Christie acknowledged the lane closings were mishandled.
"Mistakes are made and when mistakes are made people have to be held accountable for them," Christie said.
Christie is considered a likely Republican presidential contender in 2016 with a number of polls showing he would do better than other possible candidates in a theoretical matchup with Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic National Committee posted a 2-minute video on the Internet about the bridge closings Friday.