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Thruway Authority selects contractor for $450 million project to renovate all rest stops

By Eric Reinhardt (


Motorists along the New York State Thruway will soon see renovation work at rest stop travel plazas along Interstate 90 in a two-phase project beginning in 2021. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

The New York State Thruway Authority on Tuesday selected a contractor to redevelop the 27 service areas located on the nearly 600-mile toll highway.

The Authority picked Empire State Thruway Partners from bids submitted following the state’s request for proposals (RFP).

Empire State Thruway Partners submitted a $450 million investment plan to rebuild 23 of the 27 service area restaurant buildings and provide “significant” renovations and upgrades to the remaining four.

The contract with Empire State Thruway Partners includes a 33-year term, with two phases of construction. The service areas were originally built in the 1950s, with the last significant redevelopment taking place in the 1990s.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative to “reimagine” the Thruway service areas in his 2018 State of the State address.

“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,” Matthew Driscoll, executive director of the Thruway Authority, said in a statement. Driscoll is a former mayor of Syracuse.

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. To “ensure continuity of services” to Thruway customers during construction, no two consecutive service areas in the same direction of travel will be closed for renovations at the same time, the Authority said.

Amenities and services were established in the RFP using feedback from a Thruway administered customer survey in 2018, which gathered information from customers to gain insight into “consumer preferences, best practices and appropriate business models.”

Proposal details

Empire State Thruway Partners proposed various levels of service and building sizes to accommodate travelers’ needs and desires.

Crews will configure most buildings 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; and enhanced services such as call-ahead ordering, kiosks and drive-thru service at most locations.

The proposal also calls for pursuit of LEED Silver rating principles at all locations, and other environmental initiatives. LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

It also calls for an increase of 150 parking spaces for commercial truck parking at service areas systemwide.

The amenities for commercial truckers also include shower and laundry facilities and a fitness center.

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