Friday, October 30, 2009

Corzine’s Spokesman Says Governor Supports Indiana Toll Lease Plan

How Much Road Maintenance Would Be Cut, How High Would Tolls Be Raised?

Senator Sean T. Kean questioned whether Governor Corzine has a new plan to lease New Jersey toll roads to a foreign business. Just hours after the New York Times reported that Governor Jon Corzine discussed in an interview reviving his massively unpopular plan to sell the New Jersey Turnpike and raise tolls by 800%, a spokesman for the Governor quickly claimed that the Governor was actually referring to a toll road in Indiana. When discussing monetization, the Times quoted Corzine as saying, “This idea worked.”

A spokesman for Governor Corzine told New Jersey 101.5 Radio that the Governor was really talking about the toll road in Indiana, and that the Governor’s statement to the Times was taken out of context.

“Governor Corzine’s comments to the New York Times seem pretty clear, I don’t see any mention of Indiana,” said Kean. “In either case, if the Governor has a new secret plan to lease the New Jersey Turnpike to a foreign operator, he should disclose the plan immediately.”

In 2006, Indiana leased the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road to a foreign consortium under a 75-year lease that allows for the operation of the road in a for-profit manner. The agreement removes all responsibility for toll collection, operations and maintenance of the highway from state officials and state employees, putting the foreign company fully in charge of the road.

“It would be impossible for any company to enter into a lease agreement for the New Jersey Turnpike or other roads without being permitted to raise tolls as necessary to generate a profit,” said Kean. “How many jobs on the Turnpike or Parkway would be cut by a foreign company that cares more about profit than maintaining safe roads for New Jersey drivers?”

Kean noted that one of the Governor’s core principles of his original monetization plan was that no roads would be sold or leased to a foreign operator.

“It’s surprising that Governor Corzine may now be suggesting that he favors the Indiana plan which turned over complete control of the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign company,” added Kean. “He claimed to be vehemently opposed to that just last year. Due to the apparent contradictions in his statements on monetization, Governor Corzine should clarify whether he supports his original 800% toll increase plan or the Indiana toll increase plan.”

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