A second newly constructed travel plaza along Interstate 95 in Maryland opened early Tuesday morning, about six weeks ahead of schedule, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The opening of the new $26 million, 30,000-square-foot Chesapeake House in Cecil County follows the January opening of the new Maryland House in Harford County.
The state redesigned and rebuilt both travel plazas under a public-private partnership with Areas USA, which invested $56 million in the projects in exchange for operating rights through 2047.
The state retained ownership of the facilities in the deal. It estimates the projects created 400 construction jobs and will support 575 operating jobs. The travel plazas are also expected to bring $400 million to state coffers during the course of the 35-year Areas USA contract.
The Maryland House closed in September 2012 for reconstruction. Work began on the new Chesapeake House, adjacent to the old facility, in spring 2013, though the older facility remained open until the Maryland House reopened.
In addition to a new Sunoco "high-speed" fueling station, the new Chesapeake House includes a large convenience store and an Earl of Sandwich, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy's, Peet's Coffee and Tea and Auntie Anne's. It also has new restrooms and other modern features such as free wireless Internet.
The facility is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, though some of the vendors won't open until later in the morning.
In a statement, Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA, called the Chesapeake House "an innovative facility that will exemplify Maryland's leadership in water conservation and management and offers national brands, state-of-the-art facilities, convenient access and essential services, all within an environmentally sensitive design."
Bruce Gartner, executive director of the MdTA, thanked travelers through the state for their patience through the construction phase.
The original Chesapeake House was opened in 1975 to serve a growing number of travelers along the I-95 corridor. The original Maryland House opened in 1963.
The two facilities are among the busiest travel plazas in the country, serving 5 million customers per year, the MdTA said.
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