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Limited feedback at Del. Memorial Bridge toll increase hearing

Photo courtesy: Delaware River and Bay Authority

Officials presented a proposed toll hike for the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the public Tuesday.

The increase would go into effect March 1.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) plans to use it to pay for what it calls necessary improvements—like suspension rope replacement, bridge steelwork repairs and a ship collision protection system.

DRBA’s Chief Financial Officer Victor Ferzetti says after covering operating costs and debt service, the Authority is left with about $25 million in revenue per year.

“If you sort of multiply that out over the next five years, what you end up with is $125 million of cash to pay for about $440 million of projected projects,” said Ferzetti. “Or over $300 million shortfall.”

The proposed hike is one dollar for passenger cars and trucks, pushing the toll to $5. Tolls for commercial trucks would go up $2 per axel.

James Thornton lives on the New Jersey side of the bridge. He buys the frequent traveller program--one of two discount packages the Authority offers.

“Kind of surprised it’s going up an entire dollar, about an eighty percent increase over the other rates of increase twenty to forty percent. But considering it’s still a substantial discount,” said Thornton. “You know— bite the bullet.”

DRBA officials note the Delaware Memorial Bridge toll is currently lower than several other regional bridges — and the only one to offer both commuter and frequent traveller rates.

The new proposed toll would match the passenger vehicle toll at Delaware River Port Authority bridges.

“You know we are open to ideas. We made our case tonight and the reason why we have to raise the revenue and what we’re going to spend it on. But if someone has something that we didn’t think of, that’s what this is about,” said DRBA Executive Director Tom Cook.

Thornton was the only member of the public to give feedback at the hearing in Delaware.

Cook says he expects more participation at the hearing in Carney’s Point, N.J. Thursday.

Officials say the DRBA board will consider the proposed changes December 18th.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.