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Maryland’s I-95 travel plazas to be replaced in public-private partnership

ANNAPOLIS — A Miami-based company will spend $56 million to redesign and rebuild the state’s aging travel plazas on Interstate 95 under a deal approved Monday by the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Under the public-private partnership, or “P3,” the state will continue to own the facilities and expects to collect more than $400 million in revenue from Areas USA MDTP over the course of its 35-year lease.

The new Maryland House and Chesapeake House will both be open in fall 2014, according to MdTA.

“By joining forces with the private sector we can generate the type of investment needed in these tough economic times that will allow us to build the infrastructure we need and create jobs,” said MdTA board member Mary Beyer Halsey, who helped lead the search for a company to take over the travel plazas.

The authority expects construction of the facilities to create 400 jobs. One plaza will stay open while the other is closed for construction.

Areas USA will become the new concessionaire at the facilities in September. The 48-year-old Maryland House will close for reconstruction that month and reopen in December 2013.

The company will then turn its attention to 36-year-old Chesapeake House, which is scheduled to reopen in September 2014.

The new facilities will offer free wireless Internet access and more parking spaces for buses, according to MdTA

The restaurant lineup for Maryland House includes Wendy’s, Cosi, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nathan’s Famous, Jamba Juice, Pizza Hut and Baskin Robbins.

Chesapeake House will include Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Caribou Coffee, Jerry’s Subs & Pizza, Wetzel’s Pretzels and Earl of Sandwich.

“We look forward to developing and operating world-class facilities that deliver exceptional quality and unmatched amenities for travelers, as well as tremendous value for Maryland,” said Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA.

Areas USA is a subsidiary of Areas SA, a Barcelona firm with concessions contracts at U.S. airports and highways as well as in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, St. Martin and the Dominican Republic.

Public-private partnerships have become an area of emphasis for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

The state agreed in 2009 to a 50-year deal with Ports America Chesapeake to upgrade the Seagirt Marine Terminal, and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is pushing legislation the administration hopes will lead to more private financing of public infrastructure.

“In these difficult economic times, we need to take a creative approach and look at all options for funding our infrastructure needs,” Brown said.

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