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New Service Plazas Should Be Built on I-95 East of Madison

This map shows the lack of service plazas east of Madison.
This map shows the lack of service plazas east of Madison.

Along Interstate 95, there are service plazas with food, fuel, and retail services in both directions approximately every 10 miles from Darien to Madison, then they disappear about 45 miles before the Rhode Island border. 

Interstate 95 travelers in Middlesex and New London counties have a much different experience when making a roadside pit stop. 

Existing Facilities in Eastern Connecticut

A Connecticut Welcome Center with restrooms and a tourist information desk, between exit 66 and 65 in Westbrook on I-95 Northbound, is only open limited hours. The facility, built in 1988, is the smallest rest stop on I-95 in Connecticut and the last one in the northbound direction. 

When the welcome center isn’t staffed, the building is locked and travelers must use port a-potties. 

The closest service plaza for travelers traveling from I-95 North to I-395 North is in Plainfield, roughly 30 miles away. This is because the I-395 Montville Service Plaza, while it is only about 7 miles away from I-95 featuring Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Mobil, is only in the southbound direction. 

Rhode Island visitors are greeted by the 54-year-old Connecticut Welcome Center, between exits 93 and 92, in North Stonington, which is close to the Rhode Island border. While the building’s restrooms here are open 24 hours, they are certainly in need of a makeover. There is also a separate room with a tourist information desk and brochures that are only open limited hours. 

Except for picnic areas, barbecue grills, and a couple vending machines, the Westbrook and North Stonington rest areas have no other amenities. 

Newly Renovated Facilities Near the New York Border

These facilities stand in contrast to the newly renovated Darien Service Plaza on I-95 Northbound and the Greenwich Service Plaza on Route 15 Northbound, the first rest stops coming into Connecticut from New York. 

According to Connecticut Service Plazas, vendors at the Darien plaza include Subway, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sbarro, Mac-n-Out, Cheeseboy, Wilson’s BBQ, Alltown Convenience Store, Statement USA, Best Buy Express and Mobil gas/diesel. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi, ATM, TTY Phone, and tourism kiosk. 

The Greenwich plaza features a Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Alltown Convenience Store, and Mobil gas station. 

Both facilities allow travelers to access brochures 24/7 even when the tourism information desk isn’t staffed. 

Potential Challenges

Some say that federal law prohibits new service plazas on interstate highways but Rhode Island was able to get around the law in creating the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center in Lincoln off I-295 north which has a Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins. 

Some might argue that a service plaza could take business away from private businesses like American Auto Stop in North Stonington off exit 93, near the Rhode Island state line, which boasts a general store, Stuckey’s and a food court with Sbarro, Nathan’s, and Johnny Pastrami.

However, the I-95 Branford Service Plazas is within close proximity to the Travel Centers of America facility in Branford hosting Subway, Starbucks and Popeye’s and the I-95 Milford Service Plazas are near the Pilot Travel Center in Milford which features a Wendy’s and Cinnabon.  

RI and Mass. Also Lack Service Plazas

The lack of service plazas on I-95 from Madison, CT to Lexington, Mass., approximately 140 miles, was written in “Rhode Island’s Next Big Idea, Even Bigger Than Calamari”.

The writer suggests building service plazas near exit 7 (Center of New England) and one at the Rhode Island Welcome Center on I-95 Northbound, which has sat abandoned since it closed back in 2011.

New Choices

If more service plazas are built, they should offer new food offerings of chains not in our area or recruit independent restaurants to be closer to the Interstate. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Craig R February 20, 2014 at 06:30 PM
Majority of the traffic on I-95 north after Madison is headed to the beaches or the casino. As a former employee at the Madison NB side, there is not enough traffic except on Fridays in the summer to justify being open after 8:00pm or in the winter. The only customers were truck drivers and the freaks using the bathrooms (and not for going to the bathroom). There are enough places to stop right off the exit in Flanders or Mystic to need a rest stop.
M Stillman February 22, 2014 at 03:20 PM
No additional truck stops are needed ANYWHERE. Unlike decades ago, when gas stations only sold gas, the modern local gas station sells everything short of investments... you can get food, drinks, medicines, chips, magazines, and yes, GAS. So, why do we need to build more rest stops, that sell gas for a premium fee, that have 3,4,5,6... restaurants... these rest stops are unnecessary... Keep the existing rest stops, save taxpayer dollars, and put up a few signs directing customers to gas, food, and other local businesses..
Ellen F February 23, 2014 at 01:44 PM
Thank you Corey for providing good information. As someone who drives both a diesel van and a diesel car, AND who lives "north" of the Madison plaza, and now that the Branford plaza does not have diesel, it is a long stretch with no quick access to a diesel pump. If you don't know the off-highway spots, and it is tough. And truck stops ARE needed for the long haul drivers who are required to take rest stops! The NB Madison plaza was a mess so no wonder no one stopped there, especially with the diesel pump on the off ramp so fueling up in bad weather was a pain.
Corey Sipe February 24, 2014 at 04:25 PM
M Stillman, the existing service plazas on I-95 and I-395 were/are being renovated with private financing from Project Service LLC, no taxpayer money was used. Actually, the state gets a percentage of profits made from service plazas since it is the landlord and the businesses there are subtenants of Project Service. Some states even have private partnerships that allow a business to erect billboards or advertise by naming rights so that renovations and maintenance to non-commercial rest stops also would not be paid for with taxpayer dollars. Currently, our tax dollars go to maintain the state's non-commercial rest stops.
Corey Sipe February 24, 2014 at 04:31 PM
Ellen F, yes, the NB Madison and SB Branford plazas were the worst on I-95 as they only had McDonald's, a couple vending machines, Mobil gas, and a hole-in-the-wall convenience store at the gas pumps. All of the other plazas had other food outlets and gift/convenience stores. The renovations to the Milford plazas resulted in increased business as they are much nicer and welcoming than their predecessors, plus they have increased security features. The same is expected for Branford plazas (which recently reopened) and the Madison plazas.

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