The New Jersey Senate and General Assembly have voted to create one, 12-member panel to investigate the unannounced George Washington Bridge access lane closures that took place in Fort Lee in September.

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Some believe Gov. Chris Christie ordered the lane closures to retaliate against the Democratic Fort Lee mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s re-election bid. The governor has denied that accusation.

[SEE ALL BRIDGEGATE COVERAGE]

The two houses of the legislature had separate committees until it was announced last week that they would merge efforts to expedite the process and save taxpayer dollars in the process.

The resolution adopted today reads in part, “Given the enormity of the issues which have been exposed in the aftermath of the reassignment of access lanes in Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, it is fitting for the Legislature through an appropriate committee to further investigate all aspects of the finances, operations, and management of the Port Authority and any other matter raising concerns about abuse of government power or an attempt to conceal an abuse of government power.”

The new panel will have the power to issue subpoena in order to compel attendance and testimony at hearings. The subpoenas will also allow the committee to obtain  books, papers, correspondence, documents and materials, electronic records and data related to Bridgegate.

The committee will conduct hearings and take testimony under oath. The panel will also receive documentary or physical evidence relating to the matters it is authorized to investigate. It has the authority to use any and all reasonable means of interviewing or fact-gathering, including preliminary conferences or interviews, and hold the Port Authority in contempt of the committee.

"We have made progress in learning what happened with this threat to public safety and abuse of power, but many questions remain unanswered," said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who will co-chair the new committee. "I look forward to cooperation and responsiveness from everyone involved in this bipartisan inquiry to get the answers New Jerseyans need."