Moody’s warning about bridge toll hike veto

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Moody’s fired a warning shot afterNew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s curiousveto of a toll increase on the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The credit rating service cautioned that Murphy’s action has consequences. The veto came with the vague explanation that the $1 increase was excessive and went beyond safety matters.

You could read that explanation any number of ways. Granted, there are no imminent safety issues regarding the bridge, which is under constant monitoring and maintenance.

Moody’s did not lower the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s credit rating, but clearly stated that throwing a monkey wrench into theprocess of raising revenuesincreases risks for investors.Added risks could add up to higherborrowing costs for the DRBA.

And with the twin spans now older than most of us, issues loom if Murphy does not back off from an action that many Jersey observers see as petty payback in a dispute with the state Senate leader.

Bridges have been known to become political pawns in the Garden State.

It hasn’t been that long since the Chris Christie Administration’s “Bridge gate”lane closings that brought gridlock to the area of the George Washington span and contributed to a failed presidential bid by the University of Delaware grad.

In the works at the Delaware Memorial Bridge is a project that aims to protect the bridge from a catastrophic mishap with a ship. That project will receive some federal money but will require additional funding.

Other issues address growth in traffic that is straining the interstate leading to and from the spans,and the ravages of time. Current projects are winding down, but more work will be needed, and a structural surprise is not out of the question.

Delaware knows all too well what happens when a cycle or two of maintenance, monitoring or upgrades fails to take place. The Route 141 and I-95 project is a textbook example.

More work will be needed in the not too distant future on the Route 495 bridge, which had to be closed a few years ago after problems with the soil around its piers.

No one likes toll hikes, but as our infrastructure ages and suffers from decades of neglect, few other options exist.

Agree or disagree?Simply hit return and type away. Stay warm and take a moment to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. – Doug Rainey, publisher.

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