The State Assembly's Democratic leadership Monday moved to create a new Bridgegate "super investigative committee,"  armed subpoena power and a special counsel and chaired by Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski.

Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), whose Transportation Committee has so far led the legislature's probe of the George Washington Bridge lane closures, was lauded in the announcement issued by Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald. Subpoenas from that committee eventually unearthed the email exchange in which Bridget Anne Kelly, Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, informed ex-Port Authority official David Wildstein, that it was "time" to implement the lane closings that jammed traffic in Fort Lee.

Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski asks questions during transportation committee hearing about Bridgegate (NJTV)

Kelly was fired last week by Christie as he strenuously disclaimed any prior knowledge of the lane closings, which subpoenaed documents appear to expose as a political vendetta. Wildstein, a former high school classmate of Christie, resigned his Port Authority post Dec. 13, apparently over the lane closing controversy.

"As the evidence in the case has unfolded, it's become clear the questions that need answering here are no longer just transportation questions," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) Monday. He said the new "super investigative committee" was needed to ensure that the ongoing probe "leaves no stone unturned."

Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington), said, "Asm. Wisniewski has done outstanding work, and I am thrilled he will continue leading this effort, only now with a sole focus on getting answers to these questions and enough resources to cover all ground."

The two leaders said the committee will include members from the Fort Lee area and surrounding region "most impacted" by the lane closings.

Citing the "increased intensity" and "new tools" the new committee will bring, Wisniewski said, "many questions remain unanswered."

As precedent for such a stepped-up investigation, the Democratic leadership cited a 2001 decision to name a special counsel to probe the official response to racial profiling by the state police.

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