Usually, people spend only a few minutes traveling across one of DRPA's four bridges, not realizing the amount of work and people required behind the scenes to provide motorists with a carefree ride to their destinations.
Ricardo DeOliveira is integral in making that happen... he is responsible for overseeing the daily operations at the Walt Whitman and Commodore Barry Bridges.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is to know the work we do keeping the bridges and roads in their utmost safe condition; we are making a positive difference in people’s lives. It makes me happy to know that young students can commute across our bridges to pursue their dreams by attending school in Philadelphia or that a heart surgeon can have a safe commute across our bridges and save lives in one of the city hospitals. It is very rewarding to know that directly or indirectly; I am helping my co-workers and community.” -Ricardo DeOliveira
Ricardo DeOliveira was only living in the United States for six months when a good friend told him about his experiences working at PATCO. At the time, he had no knowledge about the agency but was curious to learn more. Through research, he realized that the DRPA/PATCO are responsible for connecting the people and businesses of Pennsylvania and New Jersey by bridges and trains.
“DRPA’s responsibility resonated with me,” says Ricardo. “I believe in having a job with the purpose of doing good and adding value to my community.”
In 2008, Ricardo was hired at PATCO as a maintainer and was responsible for maintaining electrical and HVAC equipment. Over the next decade, Ricardo steadily worked his way up the ranks to become the director of two bridges, including DRPA's busiest one, the Walt Whitman Bridge, in 2021.
As bridge director, Ricardo is accountable for managing the facility’s day-to-day operations, including traffic flow, construction & maintenance work, budget oversight, and customer & community relations.
In addition to these responsibilities, the position requires making connections and establishing relationships with customers and bridge neighbors. Creating positive experiences is one important area for Ricardo.
“When we plan the work on our facilities, we always take the approach that creates the least impact on our community. For example, we avoid scheduling work at night near a residential area, and we configure our lanes of traffic that will best accommodate the volume of traffic during special events in the area.”
I was living in the United States for only six months when my good friend Jasper Rowe, a PATCO Equipment Mechanic, told me about how good it was to work at PATCO. At the time I had no knowledge about DRPA/PATCO, but I was curious to learn more. As I learned that the Authority is responsible for connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey by bridges and train, I could see that it is as a company that will be around for generations to come and an opportunity to have a good job for a long time. I really believe in having a job with the purpose of doing good and adding value for my community and that is what we do here at DRPA/PATCO.
When I was hired by PATCO in 2008, to be honest I was scared. It was a totally different field of work that I was accustomed to, and I knew that I had to be very dedicated and put in the time to learn the work of a Signal Maintainer, which is not easy. On the first day of my current position, I was very happy and excited. I knew coming in that a lot of work and difficult challenges were ahead of me, but not for a single moment did I feel discouraged or scared. The people at the Walt Whitman and Commodore Barry Bridges played a very important part in this transition by welcoming me as part of their team.
Since day one at PATCO, I was surrounded with very knowledgeable and hard-working people that always took their time to help me along the way. From maintainers that taught me how to troubleshoot track signals to the director that gave me the opportunity of overseeing important projects. I am very grateful to meet so many good professionals that are dedicated and proud of their work they do at the DRPA/PATCO. Working at the bridges, I found even more support that I believe helping each other to succeed is a common trait of people working for the Authority.
• Participate in more events promoted by the company you work for. Take advantage of these opportunities to build and maintain contact with a network of people that you can collaborate for mutual benefit.
• Try to learn something new every day, even if you are learning something very small. Do not get comfortable and settle for what you know today thinking that it is good enough. There is no age limit for new knowledge.
• Set a goal where you want to be in your career. Do not get scared if you do not know how to get there; knowing your destination, you are already halfway there.
I would tell this individual that DRPA/PATCO is a great place to work. It is a place that for generations has helped thousands of people provide for their families. I see the Authority as a place in which we contribute to create history. It is amazing to think that almost 100 years ago, our predecessors were building the Ben Franklin Bridge, and many generations after, it is our turn to care of it. Looking into the future, I can see my great-grandson doing a history class presentation about the Ben Franklin Bridge and proudly saying that his great-grandfather, many years ago, helped to care and maintain this historic icon of our region. So, if someone would like to be part of history, DRPA/PATCO is the right place to work.
Modeling The Way highlights rising leaders within DRPA & PATCO who began their careers in an entry-level position and have risen to a supervisory role. These employees have graciously offered to share a personal look at their career journey and their important role in achieving our stewardship mission.
DRPA & PATCO are committed to investing in employees and providing opportunities for career advancement. Since 2014, more than 170 employees have been promoted to higher level positions at the agency.