ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York Thruway Authority gave the green light on a contract with Empire State Thruway Partners to upgrade the state’s 27 service areas Tuesday. Twenty-three of the service areas will be rebuilt and four will get significant upgrades.
The 33-year contract will see an investment of $450 million from Empire State Thruway partners to provide greater food service and amenities for travelers. The plan also includes greater access to amenities for commercial truck drivers. It will also focus on promoting local tourism through I Love N.Y. /Taste N.Y. and be dedicated to using environmentally conscious infrastructure like solar panels and rainwater collection to be used in irrigation.
“The Thruway is a vital connector for interstate commerce and its service areas provide motorists with essential travel amenities that allow them to reach their destinations safely. The upgrades planned with this redevelopment project include innovative, modern initiatives to improve the customer experience for the tens of thousands of travelers who use the service areas every day,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director, Matthew J. Driscoll.
The project has been in the works for two years. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an initiative to overhaul the state’s Thruway service areas in his 2018 State of the State address. That same year the Thruway Authority conducted a survey asking motorists about the types of services they would like to see at service areas. They said the upgrades reflect responses received from the survey.
Phase one of the project is scheduled to begin with the renovation of 16 service areas next year. The remaining 11 service areas are scheduled to be renovated in phase two beginning in 2023. The Thruway Authority said renovations will be spread out so that no two consecutive areas will be closed during the process. Built in the 1950s, the last time service areas saw notable improvements were in the 1990s, according to the Thruway Authority.
Proposed changes to service areas:
- Most buildings will be able to be accessed from both parking lots and fuel stations
- Exterior seating, picnic/play/pet walking areas with comfort stations
- Taste N.Y. farmers markets
- Business centers
- Call ahead ordering, kiosks and drive-thru service at most locations
- Technologically advanced building maintenance systems
Additional changes at certain locations:
- Proposed virtual welcome and tourism centers, virtual thruway assistance, and travel counselors
- Food trucks and other seasonal offerings
- Enclosed climate-controlled pet areas
- Private area for nursing mothers
Changes to commercial trucking areas:
- Increase truck parking at service areas system-wide by 150 parking spaces
- Shower and laundry facilities
- Fitness center
- Healthy snacks
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