The New York State Thruway Authority will begin construction this month on a $450 million project to redevelop the 27 service areas located along the Thruway.
The service areas were built in the 1950s, with the last significant renovations taking place in the 1990s. On July 29, 10 service areas will close for work to begin on the first phase of the project. Fuel services will remain available at all locations during construction.
Empire State Thruway Partners was awarded the contract to rebuild 23 of the 27 service area restaurant buildings and provide significant renovations and upgrades to the remaining four. The contract includes a 33-year term, with two phases of construction.
The project is funded through a public-private partnership and no toll dollars or state tax dollars are being used, officials said this week.
“A new travel experience is on the horizon for customers as this long-anticipated project to redevelop the Thruway’s 27 service areas gets underway this month,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll in a statement. “This expansive project will modernize the buildings and amenities, provide diverse and healthy food options with new restaurants and Taste NY products and enhance the amenities for the commercial trucking industry. This is an exciting era for the Thruway Authority and we can’t wait for our customers to experience these new modern facilities.”
Expanded food offerings include Panera, Burger King, Shake Shack and Popeyes, among others. Specific locations for the food concepts will be announced at a later time, officials said.
Most buildings at the new service areas will be configured to offer entrances from both the parking lot and fuel station facilities. New amenities at some service areas also will include exterior seating with access to Taste NY farm markets, picnic areas, play areas and pet walking areas; electric vehicle charging stations to further the state’s goals of reducing emissions; and commercial driver services including increased truck parking, showers, laundry facilities and fitness centers.
“We are delighted to be selected by the New York State Thruway Authority as their partner for this prestigious project,” said Bob Etchingham of Empire State Thruway Partners. “We look forward to providing enhanced facilities and services to New York State Thruway customers over the life of this project.”
Within the Rochester metro area, the Pembroke service area is one of the stops scheduled for closure this month. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 for six additional service areas including Scottsville and Seneca. The Clifton Springs and Ontario service areas are not yet slated for closure.
The original construction of the facilities began in the mid-1950s and opened to the traveling public by the turn of the decade. The Ontario service station opened in 1955, while Scottsville and Pembroke opened in 1957. When opened, concessionaires offered a variety of services including cafeteria-style food, coffee shops and snack bars.
When developed, the plazas were built an average of 40 miles apart based on driving times and convenience for public access. By the end of the 1980s, the original travel plazas were determined to be obsolete and unsuitable to attract name-brand food concept vendors. New designs for each plaza were presented for authority approval. The concept was to provide Adirondack-style structures of 11,000 or 15,000 square feet. All were replaced or remodeled between 1990 and 1994, the last significant redevelopment until now, according to the authority’s website.
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