The Joisey Turnpike Authority (Motto: “Pump Your Own Gas? Fuggedaboudit!“) must be sporting some serious scorch-marks on their jeans pockets:

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority said it hopes to begin alerting motorists to traffic jams — 10 minutes before they occur.

The agency, which manages the two main toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. state, approved the awarding of a $652,000 contract to En Pointe Technologies Inc.

The El Segundo, California-based company has a computer system that is designed to give drivers an early heads-up on developing traffic jams, to allow them more time to detour away from congestion, Brian Gorman, director of technology, told members of the authority’s board at their regular meeting today.

The system was tested on the 148-mile (238-kilometer) New Jersey Turnpike and the 173-mile Garden State Parkway, which stretches from Cape May to the New York state line. It predicted traffic with at least 90 percent accuracy, Gorman said. Motorists will be alerted to potential problems through electronic signage on the highways.

“We do have the ability to prevent congestion disruption,” Gorman said.

I can only imagine that the system is meant to be primarily of use in the very northern part of the state, since south of Brunswick all the exits on the Turnpike and the Garden State are a good 20 miles apart and ten minutes’ extra notice of a snarl wouldn’t be worth a load of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

On the other hand, if you are the average out-of-stater like me (and a lot of the traffic on those roads is out of state), the idea of bailing on the turnpike around Newark in order to avoid congestion would be positively terrifying and you wouldn’t be likely to do it no matter how much warning you got.

So in the end, $652K seems like a lot of dosh to be blowing on bells and whistles of minimal utility.