ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Tuesday, the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors approved a $450 million proposal to modernize 27 Thruway service areas.

The 27 service areas that will be redeveloped were originally built in the 1950s, with the last significant redevelopment taking place in the 1990s.

“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,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said. “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.”

The initiative to reimagine the Thruway service areas was originally announced in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State address.

Empire State Thruway Partners submitted the $450 million investment plan, which includes new and updated buildings, upgraded amenities, and expanded food and beverage options.

23 of the 27 service area restaurant buildings will be rebuilt and the remaining four will get significant renovations and upgrades.

There will be two phases of construction. Phase one includes 16 service areas with staged reconstruction expected to begin in 2021. Phase two includes 11 service areas with renovations expected to begin in January 2023.

No two consecutive service areas in the same direction of travel will be closed for renovations at the same time, in order to ensure continuity to Thruway customers.

Service Area Proposal

New Building and Levels of Service 
Empire State Thruway Partners proposed various levels of service and building sizes to accommodate travelers’ needs and desires. Most buildings will be configured to provide entrances from both the parking lot and fuel station facilities.

Additional amenities include: 

  • Exterior seating with access to Taste NY farm markets, picnic areas, play areas, and pet walking areas with comfort stations 
  •  Business centers available at designated service areas 
  • Technology-forward building maintenance systems to monitor facilities, alert maintenance to issues and schedule predictive maintenance  
  • Enhanced services such as call ahead ordering, kiosks and drive-thru service at most locations 

Taste NY and I Love NY Commitment 
Empire State Thruway Partners detailed a commitment to promoting the I Love NY program and local tourism and showcasing Taste NY products in their proposal through self-branded convenience stores and gift shops. The proposal includes a tenant plan featuring a variety of options for travelers, expanded hours of operation and multiple food concepts, and various seating options for travelers. 

Additional services proposed at select locations: 

  • Proposed Virtual Welcome and Tourism Centers, Virtual Thruway assistant and Travel Counselors 
  • Food trucks and other seasonal offerings 
  • Enclosed climate controlled pet areas 
  • Private area for nursing mothers 

Environmental Initiatives  
Empire State Thruway Partners proposed various environmental initiatives as a commitment to sustainable and technology-advanced design for the service area redevelopment. Plans include:

  •  LEED Silver rating principles at all locations 
  • Solar arrays integrated into roofing systems and parking areas 
  • Rainwater harvesting, retention ponds, irrigation free landscaping and use of non-invasive landscaping that is drought resistant and requires low maintenance 
  • Reduced light pollution and glare through building materials, design and light fixture selection and placement 

Additionally, under direct guidance and consultation with the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Empire plans to implement a passenger vehicle electric charging program at all Service Areas to further Governor Cuomo’s goals of reducing emissions and expanding electric vehicle infrastructure across the State.

Commercial Trucking Industry 

New amenities are also proposed by Empire State Thruway Partners for commercial drivers: 

  • Increase truck parking at service areas system-wide by 150 parking spaces 
  • Amenities such as shower and laundry facilities, fitness center, and healthy snacks 

Amenities and services were established using feedback from a Thruway administered customer survey in 2018.