Bids invited for 11 service plazas on Mass Pike

| 2/5/2009

In an effort to raise money, the cash-strapped Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has invited “responsible bidders” to bid on the 11 service plazas it has up for sale or lease in the state.

According to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority’s Web site, interested parties have until noon on March 25 to submit their proposals to buy or enter into a long-term lease agreement with the agency.

The Pike has been drowning in debt since the Big Dig project. And if the agency’s credit rating is downgraded, they may have to repay nearly $450 million in loans, according to Turnpike Executive Director Alan LeBovidge.

Currently, the agency has an $11 million-a-year lease agreement for 25 years with McDonald’s franchises and a 10-year lease with Gulf Oil gas stations, which netted them $6.2 million in 2008.

Jim Aloisi, the state’s Transportation Secretary and former Big Dig chief counsel, said in a statement recently that there is “potential for a large up-front payment by selling to a bidder interested in gaining access to that lucrative revenue stream.”

“The time for studies and theory is past. Let’s test the marketplace and maximize our assets as we move toward the dismantling of the Turnpike,” Aloisi said.

Former Pike board member Christy Mihos told the Boston Herald in January the state could make “$300 million on the sale, and after paying off the Big Dig debt, could have $130 million left” by selling off the service plazas.