(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley, John J. Burzichelli and Craig J. Coughlin to allow private entities to sponsor the operational activities of certain state transportation agencies, as well as highway-related services to help alleviate the burden on taxpayers was approved 40-0 by the Senate on Thursday, giving it final legislative approval.
“This legislation authorizes a simple move that would potentially offer a great benefit to taxpayers,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Covering the cost for upkeep of state highway rest areas and other services may be minimal in ways but it is money that can add up over time. In this economy, every little bit we save would make a big difference in the long run.”
“Thousands of people travel our state highways each year,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Extending the opportunity for sponsorship would be an asset to any corporation’s marketing platform. And it also alleviates costs to our taxpayers which is a win in this economy.”
“Offering sponsorship is an opportunity that would help business and industry in the state as well as relieve a burden on taxpayers,” said Coughlin (D- Middlesex). “In these economic times, we should look for more ways such as this one to reduce costs where ever we can.”
The bill (A-3461) would create sponsorship programs in the Department of Transportation, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and South Jersey Transportation Authority to allow a person or entity to sponsor the appropriate agency’s operational activities by providing the services, products, or monetary contributions in exchange for an acknowledgement sign.
An acknowledgement sign is defined as a sign intended to inform the traveling public that a highway-related service, product, or monetary contribution has been sponsored by a person, firm, or entity, and which meets all design and placement guidelines for acknowledgement signs as established pursuant to the provisions of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways and all sign design principles provided in the federal Standard Highway Signs and Markings Book.
The bill would require each agency to adopt a policy on sponsorship agreements that is consistent with pertinent federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders. In particular, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) March 2012 order, “Policy on Sponsorship Acknowledgment and Agreements within the Public Right-of-Way.” The policy adopted by each agency would have to:
· require the termination of a sponsorship agreement if the sponsorship agreement or acknowledgement sign present a safety concern, interferes with the free and safe flow of traffic, or is not in the public interest;
· describe the sponsors and sponsorship agreements that are acceptable and consistent with applicable state and federal laws;
· require that any monetary contribution received through the program be used solely for highway purposes;
· include a requirement that the private sponsor comply with the state’s “Law Against Discrimination”; and
· be approved by the FHWA’s New Jersey Division Office.
In addition, the bill provides that a sponsorship agreement for any portion of the interstate highway system is subject to approval by the FHWA and that advertising signs are not permitted as part of the programs. Advertising signs are signs that are intended to promote commercial products or services through the use of slogans and information on where to obtain the products or services.
The measure was approved 78-0 by the Assembly in May. It now goes to the governor