That dollar toll hike planned for Ben Franklin bridge in July could be postponed, if Electricians’ union leader John Dougherty has his way. The man known to friends and foes as “Johnny Doc” slipped a resolution onto the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Delaware River Port Authority which would scratch that toll hike on all DRPA bridges, at least for now.
Doc’s plan is take most of about $54 million in DRPA cash pledged but so far unspent on economic development projects and use it for bridge repair and maintenance the toll hike was supposed to cover.
“Our job is to secure the bridges and the surrounding area, not to supplement a baseball field someplace a hundred miles away,” Dougherty told me in a telephone interview, an apparent reference to $700,000 in Port Authority cash targeted for athletic fields in Camden.
Doughtery’s proposal will be controversial, since grant recipients will want what they were promised, and other board members think the toll hike is needed to fund bridge repairs and protect the authority’s credit rating.
Dougherty’s board resolution cites stories by the Inquirer’s Paul Nussbaum, who also reported Monday that Dougherty’s favorite charity, the Variety Club, got $500,000 in DRPA money, routed through the city’s economic development agency.
WHYY got $2 million in grants the same way to help fund constructon of a new addition at the station, and to pay for television program acquisition costs.