By Alex DeMetrick

ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)—Closed for more than a year, a Maryland fixture along I-95 is about to reopen.

Alex DeMetrick reports it isn’t just a renovation, it’s a brand new Maryland House.

The footprint is roughly the same, an island between the north and southbound lanes of I-95 in Harford County. But everything else about the Maryland House travel plaza is different.

What the state once operated, a Spanish company that has rest stops around the world will now run. The company spent $50 million to build.

The look “I would say is a combination. A combination of European flavor combined with a strong Maryland flavor,” said Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA.

Food is definitely part of that flavor. Phillips Seafood moved from old to new.

“The Maryland House before did tremendous volume. I think with the new design and the new thinking that goes into this project, I think it will be even more successful,” said Steve Phillips, Phillips Seafood.

That new thinking replaced colonial with a more modern design.

Windows saturate a large open interior with natural light.

There’s not only free Wi-Fi, but a place to sit down and log on.

There are plenty of food offerings and a new store to snag tourist dollars.

And perhaps the greatest draw; enormous restrooms. With more than 2 million visitors a year, they have to be.

Al Doane at the Welcome Center has more room too and thinks he’ll need it.

“Well, yes because the number of guests that will be coming through will be magnified according to the old place. Old place, we were limited in area,” Doane said.

Private money built the new facility, and a private company will operate it.

Here’s what Maryland gets:

“Over $400 million in state revenue over the length of the partnership,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

The 35-year private-public partnership will also mean hundreds of local jobs.

The new Maryland House travel plaza will also have 40 gas pumps.

It opens to the public next week.

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