Hurricane Irene costs Delaware River and Bay Authority $1.3 million in lost revenue

NEW CASTLE, Del. — Hurricane Irene’s late-August assault on the East Coast cost the Delaware River and Bay Authority more than $1.3 million in lost fares and tolls, officials said Tuesday.

The authority was forced to shut down its Cape May-Lewes Ferry for four days when the storm struck the area and saw traffic drop off sharply on the Delaware Memorial Bridge as drivers stayed off of roadways.

“The DRBA will not be able to make up the revenue lost, particularly at the ferry,” said Jim Salmon, spokesman for the bi-state authority. “August is typically one of the top months for traffic volume at both the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the Delaware Memorial Bridge.”

Authority commissioners, meeting here Tuesday, were told overall traffic was down 8.6 percent on the bridge with only 1,596,323 vehicles passing through the tolls. At the ferry, which crosses the Delaware Bay between North Cape May and Lewes, Del., only 41,415 vehicles paid fares (down 19.4 percent) and the number of passengers using the crossing dropped 16.9 percent to 138,861.

The figures compare usage numbers from August 2010 compared to August 2011.

Also at the ferry, with terminals in North Cape May and Lewes, food and beverage revenues dropped 12.2 percent this year compared with 2010 and retail revenues fell 17.5 percent , officials said.

The hit from Irene translated to $703,000 less in tolls at the Delaware Memorial Bridge ($8,933,000 compared to the anticipated $9,636,000) and $629,222 less in revenues from the ferry ($2,393,000 compared to the anticipated $3,022,000).

Overall, DRBA officials said total authority revenues totaled $12,707,000 in August, $1,343,000 short of the $14,050,000 which had been anticipated.

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