James Kerasiotes wants to sell the naming rights to the travel plazas, and has hired a consulting firm to study which dining and retail operations could thrive in these locations.
"We think there's a market out there for better variety and higher end services and products," he says.
The plan is modeled after the three-year, $1.5 million deal with BankBoston for sponsorship of the new automatic toll collection system, Fast Lane. The plan allows the state to get around the Highway Beautification Act's restrictions on billboards. Corporate names and messages would be found on state signs that alert motorists to an approaching rest stop.
In addition to restaurants, the authority is considering approaching supermarkets. Because rest stops in some communities are near residential neighborhoods, officials believe food stores could do well at those travel stops.