Divided Minds on the DRPA

    Elvis was there when the newly-accountable Delaware River Port Authority board held an evening meeting last night so the working and toll-paying public could attend.

    W hat was fascinating was that the 40 or so spirited audience members who showed up at the Camden County Boathouse embodied all the contradictions and policy dilemmas inherent in the DRPA mess.

    Several citizens took the podium to excoriate the board, like Carol Rhodes of Sewall, N.J..

    “The people on this board enjoy a very privileged status,” she said, her voice filled with emotion. “You have no idea what a hardship toll increases, along with the rising prices of gas, imposes on people.”

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    Rhodes said the board should quit throwing money away on pet projects, run the bridges and leave the tolls alone.

    But just as many people showed to urge the DRPA board not to withdraw funding from projects like the President’s House on independence mall. One of them was Mark McMichael, a rotund man with long sideburns, over-sized shades and an Elvis suit.

    “I want ’em to keep doing this stuff,” he said, applauding every time funding for the President’s House was mentioned.

    Despite the pleas of board member and union leader John Dougherty, the DRPA board didn’t find enough money to withdraw from economic development projects to postpone a planned dollar toll hike. They pledged to study it further, but looks like you’ll be paying $5 to cross the brides this summer.

    I had to squirm a bit covering the meeting, because one of the causes the DRPA recently funded to the tune of $2 million, was support for WHYY.


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