The Ohio Turnpike has opened two of the four service plazas it had closed for total reconstruction. Although not all the changes are finished, the seedy service plazas at the Commodore Perry Travel Center westbound and the Erie Islands Travel Center eastbound, near the 100 mile marker, have been closed for almost a year. They have been replaced by domed facilities with better lighting, more bathrooms and more parking spaces, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.
The two new travel plazas, located just east of Fremont, opened last Thursday. They cost more than $9 million each and are part of a $1.3 billion turnpike modernization program financed by an 82% toll increase.
The new travel plazas are based on Frank Lloyd Wright style architecture. The restaurants are not open yet, but the fueling facilities and bathrooms are. The circular design funnels car traffic and truck traffic to different areas. Truck parking spaces have been increased to 90 from the previous 52 at each plaza. The new travel centers feature a trucker's lounge with couches, television and showers. More pay phones are available, and there will be a business center and an outdoor farmer's market with goods from local growers.
When the restaurants open, there will be a Starbucks coffee shop, Sbarro pizza, Jody Maroni's, Cinnabon, Burger Kind and Max & Erma's.
The plazas were initially set to reopen in May. In efforts to save contractor costs, the Ohio turnpike commission has experienced delays and cost overruns. (See "Ohio Turnpike Commissioners Save Money, Inconvenience Truckers and Motorists," http://www.heavytruck.com/tt/news.html#990607.1831.)
Two more plazas, the Towpath and Great Lakes at mile marker 170 in Cuyahoga County, were closed in August 1998 and will open later this fall. The next four plazas scheduled for reconstruction won't be closed until next spring, and are scheduled to be completed in spring of 2001.