New Jersey approves sponsorship option for rest areas

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/13/2013

New Jersey is the latest state to address concerns about adequate funding to keep rest areas open.

A new law in the Garden State allows private entities to sponsor highway-related services. Specifically, it gives authority to reach sponsorship deals for facilities to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Department of Transportation and South Jersey Transportation Authority.

“Offering sponsorship is an opportunity that would help business and industry in the state as well as relieve a burden on taxpayers,” Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said in a news release. “In these economic times, we should look for more ways such as this one to reduce costs wherever we can.”

Previously A3461, the new law requires that any revenue raised through the program must be used solely for road work.

Others states have taken similar steps this year on rest area sponsorships. In New Hampshire, a new law authorizes the state to pursue selling sponsorships or naming rights to the 16-state-operated rest areas. A committee will also be set up to study closed facilities.

Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said the rule change addresses a “critical situation” in the state.

“Even if it’s a small amount of money that keeps one facility open half the time, it’s worth trying,” Chandler recently testified.

A Louisiana law also allows sponsorship on state-owned assets, including the state’s nine rest areas. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development now has the authority to charge fees for sponsorship signs on state-owned property.

One Michigan state lawmaker is working on a bill that would tap the sponsorship option to help pay for upkeep of the state’s 81 rest areas.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, said he would rather offer sponsorships instead of once again calling for Michigan residents to pay more taxes for transportation-related purposes.

“Bottom line, before I ask our hardworking taxpayers to fork out another dime in transportation taxes, we need to take a hard look at all of our options,” Colbeck recently stated.

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