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N.J. considers closing highway rest stops

Bloomberg News / April 23, 2010

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TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Chris Christie wants to shut the last two rest-stop bathrooms on nontoll roads in the most densely populated US state after this year to save $270,000.

“We just don’t have the money for the bathroom facilities,’’ Christie’s transportation commissioner, James Simpson, told members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee yesterday during a hearing on his department’s $1.24 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The bathrooms scheduled to close under Christie’s plan are on Interstate 80 at the Pennsylvania border and Interstate 295 at the Delaware border. Parking areas at the rest areas would remain open for truckers, Simpson said. The closings would eliminate 18 maintenance positions, according to the department’s written response to questions from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

“Lavatory and tourism facilities will now be closed on all of the state’s nontoll roadways,’’ the response says.

Drivers will still find bathroom facilities on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Those are two of the busiest toll roads in the United States, according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Christie, a Republican who took office Jan. 19, proposed a $29.3 billion budget that includes $10 billion of spending reductions.