Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   

  Contact:   Carl DeFebo  717-939-9551, ext. 2934
                    e-mail: cdefebo@paturnpike.com

December 9, 1999

Study Will Help Shape Redevelopment of Plazas for Future Use.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today announced it has launched a long-range study to determine the future direction of its service-plaza operations.

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike is one of America’s premier roadways," said John Durbin, Turnpike executive director. "As we look to the future, Turnpike service plazas must meet the needs and changing expectations of our customers. This project will help us continue to enhance services to the millions of customers who travel the Turnpike every year."

The study will assess the current status of the Turnpike’s 22 service plazas and provide a roadmap for all facets of plaza operations along the 506-mile system known as "America’s First Superhighway."

The two-year project will thoroughly evaluate service plazas, including facility locations, architecture, available services and business arrangements.

Surveys will be conducted with truck drivers, business travelers, commuters and leisure travelers to learn how Turnpike service plazas can best meet the needs of future travelers.

Results of the analysis will drive recommendations to make the service plazas ready for future users. Those options could include changes such as reconstruction or relocation of plazas, enhanced services for business travelers and expanding the mix of services for travelers.

A consortium of companies called Turnpike Planning Consultants is conducting the market analysis. Incorporating planning, engineering and other professional firms, Turnpike Planning Consultants will help the Turnpike Commission prepare the service plazas for redevelopment. The core companies that make up the consortium leadership are:

  • Crossgates Inc., of McMurray, Pa.
  • Gannett Fleming Inc. of Camp Hill and
  • Knight Facilities Management Inc. of Chicago.

"Turnpike Planning Consultants will conduct a complete analysis of the service plazas and the services they offer Turnpike customers," said Gregg Schwotzer, project director and president of Crossgates Inc. "We will look at what users want to see in the service plazas, compare those desires to what is currently available and recommend changes where needed. We will also carefully evaluate the condition and location of every service plaza and assess what should be done to make sure the facilities reach their full potential."

Currently, Host Marriott Services, McDonald’s and Arby’s manage and operate the service plaza restaurant sites. These three foodservice companies oversee the restaurants, snack bars, gift shops and restrooms at the service plazas as follows:

  • Host Marriott Services operates 16 of the 22 service plazas;
  • McDonalds Corp. operates five service plazas;
  • Arby’s operates a single service plaza on the Turnpike.

Sunoco Inc. currently operates service stations at 21 Turnpike service plazas. A Sunoco franchiser runs the 22nd service-plaza gas station.

Howard Johnson’s operated the original 11 service plazas when the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened to traffic in 1940. "Hojo’s" — famous for its square-bun, grilled Frankfort, all-you-can-eat fried clams and 28 flavors of ice cream — occupied those familiar graystone structures that can still be seen on the Turnpike today. The company operated all service-plaza restaurants as the Turnpike expanded until 1985, when Marriott Corp. acquired Hojo’s and struck a deal to assume service-plaza management.

The original, 160-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike — that opened to traffic Oct. 1, 1940 between Carlisle and Irwin — is the model upon which America’s interstate system was built. More than 155 million vehicles now use the Pennsylvania Turnpike every year. Service plazas located along the Turnpike operate 24 hours a day offering gasoline, rest rooms, a variety of fast food and full-service dining options, public telephones and other amenities.


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649