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

Map shows lack of Connecticut service plazas east of Madison.
Map shows lack of Connecticut 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.

Monica Johansson February 21, 2014 at 07:38 AM
I've been saying the same thing for years! Thank you for posting.
William Terry February 21, 2014 at 07:40 AM
I have always thought that East Lyme should have a service area. With the new Costco maybe now is the time to start planning one. I think it should be on northbound or southbound side. One area serving both directions.
Corey Sipe February 24, 2014 at 04:35 PM
After writing this article, I was thinking that the old hotel near the I-95/I-395 split in East Lyme would be a good location for a service plaza since the overpass is already built for easy access either direction.
William Terry February 24, 2014 at 05:31 PM
I was interested in that area also, but the crisis cross traffic pattern would need a lot of work. That whole intersection should be fixed, but adding the rest area may be too much for drivers to handle. entry/exit for Route 1, Rt 395, Rt 95, and a rest area entry and exit?
Corey Sipe February 27, 2014 at 02:47 PM
The rest area entry could share ramps with Exit 74 Flanders Sb and exit 75 Waterford Nb. By sharing ramps it would allow the DOT to get around the federal law prohibiting new service plazas on interstates as it would use exiting ramps and the property could be purchased by the state and then leased out. The weigh stations in Waterford near the Cross Road interchange have been considered by several but the parcels are too small for any type of service plaza unless it's reconfigured to be a small rest area site with just bathrooms and parking.

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