Diesel fuel was once offered at all 13 service plazas on Interstate 95 and Interstate 395, the former Connecticut Turnpike, but now it might go down to seven.
The Connecticut DOT confirmed that many years ago Exxon Mobil, who operated the service plazas at that time, removed diesel pumps from the I-395 Plainfield service plazas.
Project Service, LLC, took over operation of the aging highway service plazas in 2009 and are completely renovating them with new food and retail choices under the name Connecticut Service Plazas.
While gasoline, diesel, and air are still provided by vendor Exxon Mobil, customers noticed that diesel was no longer offered when the I-95 Branford service plazas reopened.
In an e-mail, Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick stated that, “Prior to the renovations there were single remote diesel dispensers off to the side of the truck parking areas that did not have protective canopies, did not have fuel containing positive limiting barriers, and did not provide for a good queuing situation. While the State hoped for diesel at every location, we deferred to the knowledge and market understanding of the new operator and understood the complications with providing diesel at every plaza once truck parking needs and queues associated with fueling were considered. What is provided now at the two Darien and two Milford service plazas are state of the art fueling centers that can process trucks much quicker by having multiple diesel fueling points that can fuel both sides (dual saddle bag fuel tanks) of three trucks at the same time. Madison Southbound will also have one of these larger diesel stations while Madison Northbound will have a smaller diesel setup.”
Currently, for I-95 southbound traffic, the Connecticut Service Plazas website shows the first service plazas to sell diesel are in Milford since the Madison plazas are closed for renovations and Branford does not sell it. Driving further southbound, the Fairfield plazas are also closed for renovations while the Darien plazas near the state border do sell diesel.
The possibility of selling diesel fuel at the I-95 Fairfield plazas is “currently being evaluated,” Nursick said.
The developer decided to still sell diesel at the Darien plazas, Nursick explained, since “they are closest to New York and those heavily traveled highways” and that Milford’s plazas are “close to the I-91 interchange (with no on-highway fueling on I-91).”
When asked about what factors might have caused Project Service to decide not to sell diesel fuel at specific locations, Nursick said, that there “are a combination of factors that include previous sales, anticipated demand, size/configuration of the respective plaza, required truck parking spaces, range of diesel trucks, and proximity of adjacent plazas with new higher capacity diesel fueling configurations.”
Regarding whether diesel could be added to the Branford and Plainfield plazas in the future, Nursick stated, “sales and demand for all products will always be evaluated for need and the addition of diesel is not ruled out”, adding, “it would require significant work in Branford, but, is certainly possible if the demand is there. In Plainfield, the underground storage tanks need to be replaced in 2018 anyway. The demand for diesel at this location will be evaluated as will the sales of diesel in Montville to determine if diesel should be added at that time.”
Nursick was asked whether diesel is considered less important as gasoline which will still be sold at all 23 service plazas, 10 which are on Route 15 (the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways) which prohibit trucks and commercial vehicles and consequently do not sell diesel fuel.
“No one believes that diesel fuel sales is “less important”. It does not need to be at every location order to still meet the demand and serve the public need effectively,” Nursick said.
When comparing Connecticut to other states, the Massachusetts Turnpike, New York State Thruway, New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, and Pennsylvania Turnpike sell diesel at all of their service plazas.