States on Hunt For Ad Sponsors

In what could become a trend as states continue to struggle with increased traffic and budget shortfalls, Maryland and Massachusetts are selling sponsorships to help raise money and decongest roadways during peak travel times.

The Maryland Transportation Authority is seeking a company to pay the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll on three weekends this summer as part of its sponsorship. Separately, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has completed a solicitation for bids to sponsor its Fast Lane electronic toll-collection program for the next three years. In both states, winning bidders will have their logos, trademarks or marketing messages displayed.

Maryland hopes to ease traffic by encouraging travel during off-peak periods on the weekends of June 13, 20 and 27; during those hours, the sponsor will cover all toll costs. Sponsors can buy individual weekends at prices ranging from $52,500-61,300 or pay $172,050 for all three. Bids are due April 22.

“Advertisers have an opportun- ity for some nontraditional advertising, and it gives people incentive to travel during off-peak periods,” said Maryland Transportation Author- ity representative Lori Vidil.

RFPs for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority program were due in December, but the authority has yet to identify or finalize a deal with the winner, said Authority rep Mark Mahoney. BayBank sponsored Fast Lane when the program opened in 1998.