Sometimes the Next Big Idea hits you like a bucket of cold water. Inspired during a recent annual Christmas road trip to New York City with family, this economic solution is pure Capitalism, profit and revenue generation. I reckon this should appeal to every member in the R.I. General Assembly regardless of Politics. The big picture involves millions in new project construction, a large number of construction jobs, best guestimate 100 jobs over 3 shifts operating 24/7 Post-Construction, and follows the success of what other states are doing…..
The State of Connecticut partnered with Project Service LLC who operate and maintain 23 Service Plaza’s throughout the state, a number of them are under major renovation $230 million. Ten of these service plaza’s service Route I-95 North and South from Madison, Ct. to Darien, Madison is roughly 60 miles south of the RI State line. Each plaza houses 3 or so fast food restaurants, fuel and service centers, convenience and gift stores, and State Police Annex. The entire length of I-95 from Rte. 128 Dedham Massachusetts, thru Rhode Island, to Clinton, Connecticut there are exactly ZERO Service Plaza’s. The State of Rhode Island is in a position to capitalize on a major source of sales, gas, and employment revenue generated by travelers, and commercial traffic with the establishment of a single plaza servicing both North and South bound I-95 traffic, or two plaza’s serving each their respective directions. The counter-argument is that there are restaurants and gas stations located that same corridor, but to reiterate the work that Connecticut and Project LLC has done… millions are going into the massive renovation of these service plaza’s. They’re serving and capitalizing on a market of hungry travelers with empty fuel tanks, despite higher prices for fuel.
A logical site would be just south of Exit 7 (Center of New England). A Center Median Service Plaza serving both North and Southbound traffic would be ideal to break in with one Service Plaza, however the only area close to supporting a geo-footprint of that size is in the area of mile marker 15 and would still need re-engineering of I-95 . There are locations along Route I- 295 that could potentially support a Center Median Service plaza, well after a Service plaza is established on I-95. Rhode Island Tourism could also be promoted at a Rhode Island Service Plaza, a far cry from the I-95 North bound Welcome Center at the Rhode Island State Connecticut state line easily taken for a deserted Old West Ghost Town complete with tumbleweeds, or the welcome center built on the wrong side or Rte295 (north bound) Welcoming Travelers LEAVING the state. That bit of real estate should by all rights be annexed as Massachusetts Welcome Center… I digress…
Done right, Service Plaza(s) servicing I-95 will be feeding hungry state coffers and produce an economic ripple effect for local business. There’s every reason to believe the apparent success of the State of Connecticut, and Project Service LLC could be replicated here. Still trying to reckon who on Smith Hill might have the vision, and testosterone take this to the mat. On the “Hill” the Next Big Idea’s have a bear ugly habit of dying in Committee.
State of Connecticut Service Plaza’s I-95 Corridor