Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Finding a little comfort on the road could soon come with a little more glitz.
Alex DeMetrick reports Maryland’s two travel plazas on I-95 are only one vote away from a $65 million do-over.
In islands carved out of the north and southbound lanes of I-95 sit Maryland’s only two travel plazas offering fuel, food and restrooms. What they don’t offer is new, so now that is coming.
“We’re using terrazzo floors. We’re using wood. We’re using color and indoor plants. We’re creating vibrant, light airy spaces,” explained Adam Gross of Ayers Saint Gross Architects.
“I think it’s a great idea, keeping up with the future,” one Maryland resident said.
“It’s just outdated, but if it’s going to cost the state a lot of money, taxpayers’ money, I think we could deal with this one,” Toni Moore, a traveler, said.
But a proposal on track for approval would not cost tax dollars. The plazas would be built and operated with money being invested by the Spanish development company, Areas.
“We operate currently 163 facilities like this in other parts of the world,” Eduardo Uribe, vice president of Areas, said.
Under the plaza proposal, Areas would spend $65 million on construction. In return, the state would sign a 35-year deal giving Areas control of the plazas. Maryland would receive 10 percent of the profits, estimated at $448 million over the life of the contract.
If the Board of Public Works (BPW) approves this proposal next week, it won’t be the first such agreement the state has entered into.
A similar deal now has a private company operating the Port of Baltimore that’s brought new business and jobs. As for new travel plazas…
“We estimate for the construction of both travel plazas over 400 jobs,” said Bill Magruder, senior vice president of Clark Construction.
And there may be as many 500 more when they open.
If the plaza proposal is approved by the BPW, construction would be staggered, keeping one plaza open at all times.