2006-07-20 / Front Page

Bridge authority names new executive director

By Donna K. Drago

Earl "Buddy" Croft Earl "Buddy" Croft The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority has named Earl "Buddy" Croft of Cranston as its new executive director.

David Darlington, chairman of the board at RITBA, said that Croft was one of 41 applicants for the job that was vacated last winter. Of the 41 applicants, seven were interviewed by the entire RITBA board, Darlington said, noting that Croft was "by far the most outstanding candidate."

Earl "Buddy"

Richard Dragon, the chief financial officer for RITBA, has served as the interim director since the departure of Kenneth Bianchi, Darlington said.

Bianchi was fired last winter after it was discovered that special toll discounts were being given to certain trucking companies that regularly cross the bridge. While it was

said at the time that Bianchi "inherited" the discount program from a previous administrator and did not profit personally from the secret dealings, it was thought that Bianchi should have disclosed the information to the board.

Croft is scheduled to start work at the toll plaza headquarters on July 31, Darlington said.

Most recently, Croft has served as chief of staff for Rhode Island Family Court Justice Jeremiah Jeremiah, Darlington said. Croft has also been a social studies teacher.

Croft said Tuesday that he is looking forward to starting his new position and called it a "wonderful opportunity" to work with such a "quality board and dedicated staff."

Croft said he recognized how important both the Newport/Pell Bridge and the Mt. Hope Bridge are in the state's economy, and he planned to keep offering "good services and safe services" to those that use the bridges.

Darlington said that Croft is a 1970 graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School, holds a degree in political science from Providence College, and has the public administration background "and the personality" it will take to be a good executive director for RITBA.

Croft has experience in dealing with both unionized and nonunionized employees, and he has worked within a government structure, Darlington said.

They are working out the final contract details, Darlington said, noting that the usual contract is for three years and Croft will receive a salary in the range of $105,000.

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