Who knew that the New Jersey Turnpike, the state’s congested artery that commuters love to hate, was so beloved?
In the months since Gov. Jon S. Corzine began exploring ways to capitalize on the state’s assets and pay off billions of dollars in debt, a coalition of legislators, environmentalists and drivers have come out against any plan that would include leasing the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway to private investors.
Long before Mr. Corzine could unveil a proposal, these opponents warned that private investors would increase tolls to unreasonable levels, let the roads fall into disrepair and stymie any efforts by the state to expand its highways.
Yet Mr. Corzine, a shrewd former investment banker, appears to have found a more palatable solution that lets the state raise billions of dollars while keeping the highways in public hands. At a news conference last week, Mr. Corzine said he and State Treasurer Bradley I. Abelow were considering “an entirely different kind of proposal” that involved creating a public benefit corporation.
One option is for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to raise tolls and divert only the increased revenue to a newly formed public corporation, which would then issue bonds backed by that money. The amount of the bonds would be based on the value of the toll increases.
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