Jan. 23, 2012

Contact: Cheryl M. Sparks or Kelly Melhem


Agreement to bring more than $400 million in revenue to State; Construction to create estimated 400 jobs for Marylanders

BALTIMORE, MD - The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Board today voted to approve an innovative 35-year agreement with Areas USA MDTP, LLC, to redevelop and operate the two aging travel plazas along the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95) in northeast Maryland. The agreement is the State’s newest public-private partnership (P3) following the award-winning P3 agreement with a private partner to improve and operate Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore.  

Pending Board of Public Works approval, as well as a 30-day review by the Maryland General Assembly, Areas USA will invest $56 million to redesign and rebuild both the 48-year-old Maryland House and 36-year-old Chesapeake House travel plazas and will operate and maintain the plazas through 2047. The State retains ownership and oversight of the travel plazas, while receiving revenue over the course of the agreement estimated at more than $400 million.

“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, co-chair of the committee overseeing the P3 travel plaza initiative. “In this case, the agreement to rebuild the travel plazas will bring an estimated 400 construction jobs to our State. This is the type of leading-edge concept that the MDTA must pursue as we face the challenges posed by operating and maintaining our eight toll facilities across the State.”

Interested parties submitted proposals last November in response to the MDTA’s July 2011 Request for Proposals. Evaluation of proposals was based on the project’s three goals:

  • To obtain new or like new facilities using a public-private partnership.
  • To ensure that the facility design and operations will provide a positive customer experience.
  • To provide a fair return to the State and to provide for transfer of the facilities in satisfactory condition at the end of the term.

Areas USA’s proposal received the highest ratings for all three criteria, particularly for its financial return to the State.

“We are proud to partner with the state of Maryland on this important project,” said Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA. “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. Our innovative designs and commitment to outstanding customer service will transform the travel plazas into facilities that reflect the pride Marylanders rightfully take in the State.”

Today’s announcement comes just days after the Joint Legislative and Executive Commission on Oversight of Public-Private Partnerships, chaired by Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, submitted
a series of recommendations to Governor Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly. The
Lt. Governor will be leading the Administration’s legislation this session to streamline and improve Maryland’s framework for creating public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects.

“Like the Maryland Port Administration’s 2009 contract with Ports America, this partnership is putting our citizens to work by encouraging private investment in our public infrastructure,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “In these difficult economic times, we need to take a creative approach and look at all options for funding our infrastructure needs. Maryland has the potential to advance more job-creating projects through public-private partnerships, and I’m honored that the Governor has asked me to lead efforts to make the P3 process in our State more predictable, transparent and attractive to private investment. On behalf of the Commission, I recognize our transportation leaders for their innovation and for delivering an RFP and P3 process that puts our State at the forefront in public-private partnerships.”

Areas USA has put together a team to construct and operate the new travel plazas that is dominated by Maryland firms.

“We are excited that Areas USA has partnered with some of Maryland’s most dynamic companies to reconstruct our travel plazas,” said MDTA Chairman and Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. “Of 13 members that make up the Areas team, 10 are Maryland-based firms with several being minority-owned or women-owned businesses. This strong Maryland presence reflects a commitment to local companies and recognizes the quality workforce that exists in our State. It is a commitment that will mean more jobs for more Marylanders.”

Areas USA team members working on the travel plaza reconstruction include:

  • Ayers Saint Gross - Lead designer, Baltimore.
  • Clark Construction - Contractor, Bethesda, Md.
  • Cain Contracting, Inc. – Sub-contractor, Columbia, Md. – Minority owned.
  • WBCM – Civil and traffic engineer, Baltimore.
  • Fitch - Interior design and architecture, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Aria Environmental, Inc. - Environmental design, Woodbine, Md. – Woman owned.
  • Cagley & Associates - Structural engineer, Rockville, Md. – Minority owned.
  • The Lighting Practice - Lighting designer, Philadelphia – Women owned.
  • L&J Construction - Snow removal, Baltimore – Minority owned.
  • L&J Waste Recycling, Inc. - Waste management, Baltimore – Minority owned.
  • 4 Evergreen Lawncare, LLC - Landscape maintenance, Baltimore – Minority owned.
  • NMP Engineering Consultants, Inc. - Water resources engineering, Hunt Valley, Md. – Minority owned.
  • Sunoco, Inc. - Fuel and convenience store operations, Philadelphia.

The food and beverage concepts for the Maryland House include Wendy’s, Cosi, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nathan’s Famous, Jamba Juice, Pizza Hut and Baskin Robbins. Concepts for the Chesapeake House include Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Caribou Coffee, Jerry’s Subs & Pizza, Wetzel’s Pretzels and Earl of Sandwich.

Areas USA will keep one travel plaza open throughout the redevelopment to serve customers. The redevelopment plan includes contemporary design, additional bus parking, free WiFi, gas and food services and a staffed Welcome Center. The Maryland House will be rebuilt in exactly the same location, while the new Chesapeake House will be built adjacent to its current site.

Planned facilities to be built by Areas USA under this agreement will be LEED Silver certified and include “green” features such as solar panels to power exterior lighting, high efficiency interior lighting, a “green” roof and drainage systems that will harvest rainwater.

Timeline for Travel Plaza Redevelopment:

  • September 2012: Areas USA becomes new concessionaire and closes the Maryland House for reconstruction. The Chesapeake House remains open.
  • December 2013: Maryland House reopens for service; Chesapeake House closes for reconstruction.
  • September 2014: Chesapeake House reopens for service.

Renderings of the new travel plazas can be found at

Additional Information: