HIGHLAND – Joseph Ruggiero has resigned as executive director of the New York State Bridge Authority after nine years to become the Democratic candidate for Dutchess County executive.
Ruggiero’s resignation was effective Friday. His deputy, Tara Sullivan, will succeed him in an acting capacity.
Hours after the authority announced his departure Monday, the Dutchess County Democratic Committee met and endorsed him to oppose the Republican incumbent, Marc Molinaro, in this fall’s election.
Ruggiero, a former assistant state comptroller and Wappinger town supervisor, praised the bridge authority’s employees and commissioners as “an amazing dedicated group of public servants” in media release about his resignation.
“An opportunity has presented itself to me outside of the authority that I am excited to pursue,” Ruggiero said. “I leave this post in very capable hands.”
Ruggiero steered the authority through the $93 million redecking of the south span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in 2016 and was preparing to tackle an identical project on the north span. The redecking, completed over three years to minimize the inconvenience to traffic, prompted the authority to raise tolls in 2012 for only the third time in its 85-year history. At the time, Ruggiero said another toll increase would be likely to support the redecking of the north span.
He also spearheaded the authority’s effort to generate additional revenue through the sale of advertisements in the area of its toll plazas and the lease of surplus capacity in the fiber optic cables on its bridges.
And he garnered widespread publicity for the authority by hiring a herd of goats to control weeds on its property beneath the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie that employees had difficulty reaching for several years running.
“Joe led the bridge authority through some difficult times when he first came onboard and the authority came out stronger on the other side because of his leadership,″ said Richard Gerentine, chairman of the agency’s board of commissioners.
The authority also operates the Kingston-Rhinecliff, Bear Mountain and Rip Van Winkle bridges.
By Judy Rife, Times Herald Record
Posted Feb 26, 2019 at 12:16 PM