Late last year, The Carlyle Group signed a 35-year public/private partnership with the State of Connecticut, whereby the firm agreed to redevelop, operate and maintain the state’s 23 highway service areas. Among the improvements, Carlyle said that it would supplement the McDonald’s drive-thrus at the I-95 rest stops with Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thrus (Subway’s parent company was a partner on the deal).
This transaction was a landmark for public-private partnerships in the U.S., which has lagged behind other industiralized nations in putting investment shops like Carlyle in operational control of its toll roads, bridges, ports, etc.
For those of us who drive regularly between Boston and New York City, however, it was about finally having some better food options (and, hopefully, cleaner facilities). Our collective arteries applauded the news.
But here’s the thing: Nothing has happened yet. I made the I-95 drive four times (back-and-forth) over the past two months, and saw no repair work save for a janitor applying a wrench to a urinal.
So I asked Carlyle for an update. They tell me that “all 23 sites will be closed at some point over the next four years, per a redevelopment schedule approved by ConnDOT.” The first two to be shut down on I-95 will be in Milford, with work beginning this fall and the grand reopening next summer.
“While Project Service has been granted the right to redevelop and operated the 23 sites for 35 years under the concession agreement, ConnDOT has final approval rights over the design and construction plans. Project Service has been working closely with ConnDOT to finalize those plans and receive the green light to begin redevelopment of the sites asap.”