While it was never home to Connecticut Turnpike restaurants like Savarin, Holiday House, Howard Johnson’s, Jonathan’s, or McDonald’s, the service plazas on I-395 in Montville and Plainfield have their own story to tell.
They began as auto repair facilities and gas stations near the former toll plazas. After just a decade, all four facilities closed due to a lack of business and the Montville northbound facility quickly became a state police substation.
For 30 years, travelers had no place to make a pit stop in Eastern Connecticut on what was later renamed the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike, then Route 52, and finally Interstate 395. The Montville southbound facility and Plainfield plazas finally reopened each with a convenience store and a gas station.
And now, after more than 20 years of operation, it’s time for another change.
Interstate 395 travelers saw the first restaurants at the Plainfield plazas open this past October after extensive renovations were completed, which also included a newly renovated convenience store and new gasoline pumps.
Now, it’s Montville’s turn for similar renovations.
Here is a historical timeline of the service plazas:
- Mar. 25, 1958 – Tidewater Oil Co. opens its first service plazas on the Connecticut Turnpike in Montville. Plainfield service plazas open shortly after.
- Sept. 1, 1968 – All four plazas close due to lack of business.
- Nov. 1, 1968 – Montville Northbound plaza becomes a state police substation.
- October 1988 – Mobil signs a 15-year contract to operate the Montville Southbound plaza along with both plaza in Plainfield.
- Feb 12, 1989 – Montville southbound plaza reopens with first “self-service” gasoline pumps on the Turnpike.
- Late February 1989 - Plainfield plazas reopen.
- 2007 - A state report proposes “over-the-highway” plazas with visitor centers for Montville and Plainfield. Parking would be on the northbound and southbound sides at both locations.
- December 7, 2009 – Project Service, LLC signs a 35-year contract to operate the three plazas along with plazas on I-95 and Route 15.
- October 3, 2011 - Plainfield Service Plazas close for renovations.
- July 2012 - Plainfield Service Plazas scheduled to reopen but delayed due to septic system problems.
- Sept. 28, 2012 - Plainfield Service Plazas reopen with Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and a tourism kiosk along with a renovated Mobil gas station and convenience store. They also feature an outdoor patio seating but indoor seating is uncertain.
- Oct. 9, 2012 – Montville Southbound Plaza closes for extensive renovations.
- July 2013 - Expected reopening of Montville southbound service plaza. It will be similar to the Plainfield plazas but there are no plans for a northbound facility.