HARTFORD, CT—With a projected $5.1 billion budget hole over the next two years, the state of Connecticut has been searching for creative solutions to continue programs like the Connecticut Highway Assistance Motorist Patrol or CHAMP.
On Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker announced that State Farm Insurance would be picking up 10 percent of the tab for the CHAMP program, which responded to 16,000 service calls last year. The Federal Highway Administration, which had funded 80 percent of the costs of the program, will now pick up 90 percent of the costs.
The program, which was started in 1996 and expanded in 1999, provides free roadside assistance to help move disabled vehicles out of travel lanes, helps motorists change a tire, provide a jump start and provide shelter for drivers waiting for a tow.
“The idea that 16,000 motorists were helped last year at no cost to them … is really quite exceptional,” Malloy said during a press conference outside the state Capitol.
Malloy said the state is always looking for these types of opportunities.
Redeker said the federal government is paying $4.5 million a year to fund the program and State Farm’s commitment will be $495,000 for each of the first three years.
“We do pay for truck replacement overtime,” Redeker said. But the state will no longer be contributing toward the operating cost of the program.
The 28 drivers who are part of the patrol will remain state employees under the agreement.
Each weekday, the newly dubbed State Farm Safety Patrol will patrol highways across Connecticut including I-84, I-91, I-95, I-291, I-395, Route 2, Route 7, Route 8 and Route 15 (Merritt Parkway). In addition to assisting stranded motorists, the safety patrol works with the Connecticut State Police to manage traffic incidents.
State Farm also sponsors similar safety patrols in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.