2007_01_gwb bridge.jpg

Score: Gecko, 0, and People Tired of Ads, 1.

Last week, it was announced that the Port Authority and Geico had worked out a $3.2 million deal for the insurance company to place signage and marketing goods at the George Washington Bridge toll plaza as well as at other Port Authority facilities and on other Port Authority collateral. Think costumed geckos at the bus station or Geico logos on Port Authority mailers. But now Port Authority is cancelling the deal after an ensuing outcry from preservationists, local officials and, most of all, state politicians.

Various lawmakers felt that the Port Authority-Geico deal was severely undervalued. Former NJ Governor and State Senate President Richard Codey thought the $3.2 million coast was "out of whack" given the number of eyeballs that see the GWB toll plaza. Plus, he says that he was never consulted about the Port Authority's advertising program while he was governor, a big no-no since NJ and NY share oversight of the Port Authority. NJ Governor Jon Corzine will review the sponsorship, but as there's talk about whether the bidding process was fair, we were instantly reminded of NYC's ballyhooed Snapple deal which came up really really short.

The NY Times reports that the Port Authority's executive team discussed the issue over the weekend and made the decision yesterday. The Port Authority line now is: "The agency is attempting some untested efforts, and in this case misjudged the negative reaction from the community and public officials." Additionally, PA spokesman Stephen Sigmund said, "We misjudged the negative reaction to this," especially as the agency has ambitious goals to raise more revenue through advertising - which is needed to keep up with its projects. The Times also suggests that the Geico debacle "may be a taste of the emerging debate over Governor Corzine’s exploration of whether to sell or lease state assets like the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway" in order to raise funds. Selling the turnpike? We wonder who would buy it.

And Codey said, "It looks like the lizard's going back underground." But not all geckos have to live underground - here's Associated Content on creating a habitat for your pet Leopard Gecko.

Photograph of a magical looking George Washington Bridge by kerfuffle and zeitgeist on Flickr