Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Bethesda-based HMSHost will keep its travel plaza protest alive

Lawyers for the losing bidder on a project to renovate two Interstate 95 travel plazas will try to convince the Board of Public Works on Wednesday that the Maryland Transportation Authority violated procurement law in the bid process.

Maryland House rest stop on I-95 near Aberdeen

The board could vote on the contract award during its regular meeting Wednesday morning in Annapolis.

Bethesda-based HMSHost is forced to plead with the board’s members — Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Pete Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp — because a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ruled Friday that he did not have the jurisdiction to impose a temporary restraining order on the board.

The last time the board met, Feb. 22, it chose to defer its decision on the contract award. Franchot said he made the motion because he wanted to hear how Circuit Court Judge Eric M. Johnson ruled on HMSHost’s request for a temporary restraining order.

The order was granted later that day, but then dissolved during an emergency hearing last week.

Susanne Brogan, the treasurer’s spokeswoman, said Kopp was ready to vote Wednesday and would not seek another deferment. Franchot, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment before the meeting. O’Malley’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Even if the board votes to award the contract to Areas USA Inc., an HMSHost spokeswoman said the company’s legal team would continue to pursue its complaint in court.

“We’re preparing for several different scenarios,” Susan Goyette said.

Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley is expected to once again present the proposal by Areas to the board, an MdTA spokesman said, but she did not have a sense of how the board’s members might vote.

“She’ll speak to the merit of the project,” Jack Cahalan said. “The fundamentals of the agreement remain the same. … We never predict what the board may or may not do.”

The contract proposal made by Areas, part of a public-private partnership with the state, calls for an initial $56 million investment by the company, which has a “firm commitment” to complete its work on both the Chesapeake House and the Maryland House plazas by September 2014. Areas will manage and maintain the property for 35 years, ending in 2047.