New Jersey bill to raise money along highways gets sidetracked

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/12/2013

An effort in New Jersey to search for ways to use the state’s major highways to raise new revenue has been sidetracked.

Gov. Chris Christie issued a conditional veto Monday, Sept. 9, on a bill that would direct the Turnpike Authority to study and report on additional services that could be offered to make money along highways. Services could include business, commercial or retail at rest areas along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

The conditional veto gives lawmakers recommendations for changes that need to be made to the bill – A1279 – to satisfy the governor.

“I recommend various amendments to the bill so that the Authority has the discretion to examine the full range of potential benefits from additional private sector services, including lower costs and improvements in the quality of services,” Christie wrote.

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said the new revenue stream is needed to help lawmakers look for creative ways to boost revenue.

“Our current transportation infrastructure demands that we think outside the box to find new revenue sources to help meet our long-term needs,” Coughlin stated.

The governor already approved another bill to authorize corporate sponsorship on rest areas along the Turnpike, Parkway and other state-owned highways.

Deals could also be reached on other “highway-related services or programs.”

Authority to reach deals would be given to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Department of Transportation and South Jersey Transportation Authority. Revenue raised from sponsorships would be used to help pay for road work.

In exchange for footing the bill to help keep facilities up and running, companies would get “acknowledgment signs” thanking them for the money.

“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.

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