Today, the State Senate Transportation Committee has approved a bill to let private companies sponsor rest areas along New Jersey highways. The idea is to help ease the burden on taxpayers for maintenance and upkeep. Senator Donald Norcross sponsors the measure.

“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,” says 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.

“A number of states have already embarked on similar programs to offset some of the cost to taxpayers of providing rest areas for travelers,” explains 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.”

It Has Been Done In Other States

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.