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Caution on New Jersey Turnpike and Parkway Deal

Six Public Interest Principles for Considering Toll Road Monetization
Released by: NJPIRG

A deal to “monetize” the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway should not be signed if it violates the public interest. No deal should be approved that fails to uphold any of six basic principles: public control, fair value, no deal longer than 30 years, state-of-the-art safety and maintenance standards, complete transparency and accountability, and no budget gimmicks.

1. Public Control

Transportation policy has tremendous impacts on New Jerseyans’ quality of life, health, and cost of living. It determines the level of traffic congestion and air pollution, the safety and quality of the roads, the many costs of driving and car ownership, and the availability of high-quality and affordable mass transit alternatives. Whether the state or a private operator controls the management of the Turnpike and Parkway has a powerful impact on transportation policy.

2. Fair Value

The people of New Jersey need to be sure that the government would receive fair value for a public toll road. But obtaining this long-term value is highly uncertain, especially for a private deal.

3. No Deal Longer Than 30 Years

Senator Lesniak introduced a bill that would allow a 75-year deal in New Jersey. To appreciate how profound future changes will be over these time frames, they must be put in perspective.

4. State-of-the-art maintenance and safety standards

The New Jersey Turnpike has been innovative throughout its history. Many of its design and safety choices have been replicated throughout the country and world. It is also recognized as having traffic management and danger warning systems that are among the best in the world. Similarly, the Garden State Parkway is consistently one of America’s safest roads.

5. Complete Transparency and Accountability

The Turnpike and Parkway belong to the people of New Jersey. No deal should happen if New Jerseyans have not had the opportunity to review, question and comment upon it. That requires full disclosure of the deal’s terms, and any related contracts and subcontracts, at least six months before a deal is done, plus public hearings.

6. No Budget Gimmicks

New Jersey has an ignoble history of finding short term, one-shot “solutions” to long-term budget problems.

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