Jersey Gov. Christie Shuts Highway Toilets to Save Money

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to shut the last two rest-stop bathrooms on non-toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. 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 today 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 will remain open for truckers under Christie’s plan, Simpson said. The closings will 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 non-toll 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 U.S., according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Christie, a Republican who took office Jan. 19, last month proposed a $29.3 billion budget that includes $10 billion of spending reductions to help close a $10.7 billion deficit. The legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, is holding hearings on the proposal. A budget must be approved by July 1.

Simpson told lawmakers he is hoping to coax federal officials to give the state an exemption that would allow a private vendor to operate a cafe at the sites where the rest rooms are scheduled to close Jan. 1, enabling the bathrooms to stay open.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dunstan McNichol in Trenton, New Jersey, at dmcnichol@bloomberg.net

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