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NY Thruway rest stops: Change is coming, but what should be added?

New York's rest stops along the state Thruway are getting a makeover. Finally.
Credit: John Meore/The Journal News
Photo: John Meore/The Journal News

ALBANY - New York's rest stops along the state Thruway are getting a makeover. Finally.

The state's Thruway Authority announced Wednesday it is accepting requests for proposals to redevelop the 27 service areas along its 570-mile highway system through private-public partnerships.

Updating the service areas has long been a goal for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the plan during his State of the State address in January.

And yes, the plan includes considering new food vendors — long a complaint of drivers.

"These service areas offer an opportunity to showcase New York products and attractions while providing customers with modern conveniences and services they expect while traveling our roads," Cuomo said at the time.

Service areas along the Thruway currently include gas stations, family rooms, ATMs and Taste NY food and drink products.

But they need an overhaul, state officials said.

The Thruway Authority is seeking to redevelop the aging service areas inside and out.

The state didn't put a price tag on the plans, but it wants to upgrade each of the building's facades and do a complete redesign of the interior, including restrooms.

All upgrades will utilize energy efficient building systems and alternative sources of energy, according to the state.

The state is also seeking to expand truck parking and amenities for commercial drivers as a way to better support the transportation industry.

Charging stations for electronic vehicles will also be installed at each service area.

Earlier this year, Cuomo announced $4.2 million in funding to install high powered charging stations along the Thruway as part of the state's plan to reduce green house gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

"By investing in the expansion of EV charging stations, this administration is working to reduce gas-powered vehicle emissions while making significant strides to establish a cleaner, greener New York for all," Cuomo said at the time.

It's not just the buildings that are getting an upgrade.

The state is seeking to expand the food and beverage options offered at the service areas, something users have been longing for.

In July, the Thruway Authority distributed a survey on its website seeking input from the 250 million yearly users of the high system.

Over 2,600 responded, from occasional users, to what the state dubbed "road warriors," or drivers who frequently use the system for business.

The top wish for all segments of the survey: better food halls followed by an increase in drive-thru services.

Take-out meal options for individuals and families as well as the sale of New York wine, beer, and spirits were also on the list of "Top Wish" items.

The survey also found a general dislike for the interior layout of the service areas, with restrooms receiving the lowest marks.

Occasional users of the Thruway were most satisfied with the service areas while commercial users, citing a lack of parking and amenities, were the least.

Developers seeking to submit a proposal have until Feb. 11 to do so. Here are the details.

To see what is currently available at each rest stop visit: http://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/travelplazas/index.cgi