For years auditors have groused that the Port Authority is a patronage pit hard-wired with dysfunction.

They have a point: Exhibit A is the controversy raging in New Jersey over the possible use of George Washington Bridge lane closures as a weapon of political retaliation.

Here's what we know: On Sept. 9, the first day of school, the authority suddenly closed two of Fort Lee's three New York-bound access lanes to the bridge. Neither local police nor elected officials had been warned.

Surface roads throughout Fort Lee backed up quickly. School buses full of kids, cars full of city-bound commuters and trucks with deliveries to make in the five boroughs were caught in delays of up to four hours.

The closures went on for four days until Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye learned of the mess. Furious, he stepped in and reopened the lanes. End of crisis.

But why did the closings start?

The authority said in a statement it was studying traffic safety patterns on the bridge. But no one in the higher echelons seems to know much about this -- including Foye.

Meanwhile, accusations are flying that N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, used the authority -- and the traffic snarls -- to punish Fort Lee's mayor, Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who did not endorse Christie's re-election bid.

Foye told a Trenton legislative hearing this week that the closures were ordered by David Wildstein, a Christie friend at the authority who has announced his resignation.

We'll be glad to see Wildstein go. But his resignation, effective Jan. 1, isn't enough. He answers to Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee who is the authority's deputy executive director. Baroni should have known what Wildstein was up to. He ought to go, too.

The authority's structure has always been flawed. Its top leaders are loyal to the governor of New York or the governor of New Jersey but seldom both. That usually leads to infighting. But the closures hurt toll-paying drivers, among others. This is beyond bad management.

Trenton's legislators should keep digging for answers.