The state inked a 35-year contract that will change the operation and look of its 23 service stations along Interstate 95, the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways, and I-395, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Thursday.
A Subway restaurant franchiser and a private equity firm have teamed up to renovate the 23 service stations and give travelers and tourists a greater number of food choices.
For more than two decades the major food provider along the Connecticut Turnpike has been McDonald’s. ExxonMobil has provided the fuel for equally as long, but both their contracts with the state expired at the end of September.
Under the new contract McDonald’s will remain at eight of the plazas, but will be joined by other food vendors including Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and a convenience store, Department of Transportation officials said.
Upon learning of the new contract, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, said he wants the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis to analyze the contract and the revenue sharing agreement with the state.
“We need to figure out what this means to the state in terms of revenue on an ongoing basis,” McDonald said Thursday in a phone interview. He said the agreement doesn’t require legislative approval, but “we need to understand what it means for the state.”
According to Department of Transportation officials the new contract is expected to bring in at least $248 million in revenues to the state over the next 35 years.
“This is extraordinarily valuable real estate that Connecticut is putting in the hands of these operators, and the people of Connecticut need to know what, if any, real revenue gains they are going to see over the next three decades,” McDonald said.
“We would welcome any review by anybody including OFA,” Judd Everhart, a Transportation Department spokesman, said Friday.
Everhart said revenue wasn’t the primary consideration.
“We were focused on getting the best possible services,” he said.
Under the former contract, Connecticut received “too small a portion of the hundreds of millions in revenue, and the plazas had not received significant improvements in 25 years,” McDonald said.
Doctor’s Associates Inc. and the Carlyle Group are expected to invest $178 million to entirely replace three service plazas and renovate the remaining 20.
Alliance Energy, a petroleum-marketing distributor, will provide fuel and operate the convenience stores.
It’s still unclear if ExxonMobil will continue to sell the fuel for the duration of the contract, but will remain in place during the transition.
McDonald, a member of the legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, said it’s his understanding that the contract includes $18 million for environmental remediation.
“I’d like to know what the state reasonably expects to find based on its preliminary research,” McDonald said.