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Second bridge probe linked to Christie is underway: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A second bridge investigation linked to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is underway, this one focusing on possible securities law violations involving the Pulaski Skyway bridge, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The new inquiry was prompted by an ongoing investigation into "Bridgegate," the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that has engulfed Christie, a potential 2016 Republican contender for the White House.

Now investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission are focusing on the Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

According to the Times, officials are probing whether bond holders were intentionally deceived by a $1.8 billion agreement in 2011 to repair the Skyway, which connects the New Jersey cities of Newark and Jersey City.

In bond documents, the Port Authority said the project was part of "Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements," although the Skyway is more than 9 miles (14 kilometers) south of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting Weehawken, New Jersey and midtown Manhattan in New York City.

The Christie administration had relentlessly lobbied to use Port Authority money to repair the Skyway but was told it was ineligible because the bridge is state-owned and operated, the Times reported. The Port Authority recast the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel and the funding was secured, the newspaper said.

Investigators are scrutinizing the accuracy of the access road description as a possible violation of the Martin Act, a New York State law that carries felony charges for intentionally deceiving bond holders, according to the Times. The probe could also result in civil action under the Martin Act or by the SEC under federal securities laws.

Still underway are investigations into the George Washington Bridge scandal, in which a massive traffic disruption in September 2013 was allegedly orchestrated by two Christie aides in retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie's re-election bid.

The four-day closure of access lanes in Fort Lee snarled traffic, delaying school buses, ambulances and commuters. Christie has denied he knew about or was involved in the incident. He fired one top aide and the other resigned under pressure.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Susan Heavey)

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