Norcross Bill Permitting Corporate Sponsorship Of Highway Rest Areas Approved By Senate Committee

Would Provide Funding for Maintenance of Rest Stops, Alleviate Taxpayer Burden

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) to provide an opportunity for private companies to sponsor rest areas along New Jersey highways, alleviating the burden on taxpayers for maintenance and upkeep, was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.

“Providing opportunities for sponsorships will allow us to raise funds to cover the maintenance costs at rest areas along our highways, currently being paid for by state taxpayers,” said Senator Norcross. “This will alleviate the burden on the public for this cost and help ensure that our rest areas remain accessible to travelers and tourists in our state. Especially in this economy, any responsible steps we can take to boost funding to cover the cost of maintaining our state’s assets are worth doing.”

The bill (S-2514) would allow the New Jersey Department of Transportation (“DOT”), the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (“NJTA”) and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (“SJTA) to enter into a sponsorship agreement with a private entity to charge and collect monetary contributions, accept services or products, or both. This would be in exchange for the placement of acknowledgement signs on the main-traveled way of a highway in advance of the exit for a rest area or service area, and within the rest area or service area buildings. Proceeds received by the DOT would be used for the maintenance and upkeep of a rest area or service area.

Under the senator’s bill, DOT, NJTA and the SJTA would be required to establish rules or regulations concerning qualifications for participation in the program, terms for sponsorship agreements and specifications for acceptable acknowledgement signs and acknowledgement sign placement.

“A number of states have already embarked on similar programs to offset some of the cost to taxpayers of providing rest areas for travelers,” said Senator Norcross. “This is an opportunity for New Jersey to implement a new funding mechanism that will provide relief to our residents in this tough economy while continuing to ensure that service areas vital to tourism are properly maintained.”

The Iowa Department of Transportation implemented a program last year to allow sponsorship opportunities at its 40 interstate highway rest stops, according to published reports. Ohio transportation officials also approved a sponsorship program in 2012. The Senate Transportation Committee approved the measure by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.