TRENTON – For budget-stressed states, this may be a sign of the times.
The state announced a public/private partnership today between the Department of Transportation and State Farm insurance.
The insurer will provide financial support – $1.8 million a year for three years – to support expansion of DOT’s Safety Service Patrol. In exchange, the State Farm logo will be seen on patrol trucks and on highway signs.
This arrangement – which DOT said today will allow it to reallocate resources to other high-priority needs – is something that might have been unusual in the past but is a revenue option public agencies are increasingly considering nowadays.
DOT began the patrol program in 1994. Last year, according to DOT, it realigned the patrol program to concentrate on areas of greatest needs and increase service to seven days a week.
SSP patrol areas include:
- In the northern part of the state, SSP trucks operate on I-80, I-78, I-280 east of I-287 and along I-287 from Edison to just north of I-80.
- In central New Jersey, SSP trucks operate in the greater Trenton area on I-95, I-295, I-195 as far east as the Turnpike interchange and on parts of Route 29.
- In southern New Jersey, SSP trucks operate in the Camden/Cherry Hill region along I-76, I-676, I-295 as far north as Mercer County and along portions of Routes 42 and 55.
Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski, (D-19), Sayreville, who sponsored legislation that enabled such public/private partnerships, applauded the news.
“At a time when the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund’s gas tax revenue is fully dedicated to debt service and the state must rely on additional borrowing, higher tolls and increasing general revenues to fund our transportation infrastructure, New Jersey must be creative in pursuing any and every opportunity to generate revenue for our transportation needs,” he said in a release.
In a release following today’s announcement, DOT Commissioner James Simpson said, “Safety is the top priority at NJDOT. We are proud to team with State Farm on this joint venture that supports the Safety Service Patrol program and which creates opportunities for NJDOT to direct funding to other high-priority safety projects that will benefit New Jersey residents.”
State Farm stated that it sponsors motorist-assist patrols in seven other states including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Indiana and Kansas.
The patrol program in New Jersey has an annual budget of approximately $6 million, and approximately 70 DOT employees staff the program as drivers, according to DOT. Motorists are not charged for the services provided, and patrol drivers are prohibited from accepting tips, DOT stated.