N.J. may experiment with privatizing some highway maintenance operations

DOT spokesman, however, says no jobs would be lost if move is executed

News New Jersey Record June 10, 2011
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New Jersey may get out of mowing the lawn in the near future. In fact, the state is looking into deferring all of its highway maintenance, which also includes snow removal, fixing potholes and repairing highway signs, to private investors.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation is preparing to issue a request for proposals for upkeep on certain stretches of roads—and is hoping the pilot program will result in significant savings in the long run.

“There is an RFP that is being developed to explore the economics of having the private sector maintain some sections of the roadway,” New Jersey DOT spokesman Joe Dee told the New Jersey Record. “The precise locations we do not have yet.

“Everything our maintenance crews do, this is what the private vendor would have to do,” he added.

The New Jersey Privatization Task Force was formed a year ago to look into the benefits of private stakeholders when it comes to public work. The group reported that the Florida Department of Transportation experienced a 16% savings with 32 maintenance contracts covering interstate highways, toll roads and other state routes.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority took a hard look at privatizing its toll collection operation on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, but after receiving heat from union members decided to keep the current staff and slash salaries.

Dee assured that no DOT workers would be at risk of losing their job if the state decides to privatize its maintenance operations.

“If we do proceed to awarding a section to a private company, the workers would be shifted to other crews,” he said.

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