The West Virginia Parkways Authority officially approved the plans at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Beckley and Bluestone travel plazas will be closed beginning Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, to begin demolition and site redevelopment.
Both travel plazas will be rebuilt from the ground up. The Morton Travel Plaza near Burnwell will remain open until renovations to that facility begin in 2025.
Justice said the turnpike is vital advertising channel for sharing the wonder of West Virginia.
"Each year 3.3 million people, double the population of West Virginia, drive on the WV Turnpike," Justice said.
"This is our chance to show them Almost Heaven, West Virginia. So we better not screw it up, and now we're going to have the best facilities that showcase everything that West Virginia has to offer. Because we want all 3.3 million people to walk away with a positive image of our great state.
"So I am incredibly proud to showcase these new plazas today, and I can’t wait to break ground on the project next year."
In May 2022, the Parkways Authority approved the expenditure of $152 million spread over three fiscal years to revamp the Turnpike’s travel plazas. Plans were based on the results of a 2021 survey of Turnpike travelers.
With more than 3,400 respondents, the survey results made the Parkways Authority realize that these facilities were far more than a quick break for the 3.3 million visitors who stop at one of the travel plazas. For some guests, a stop at a travel plaza was part of a family tradition, with some visitors recalling the “Glass House” design of the 1950s.
For others, it was an opportunity to learn more about our state and purchase authentic West Virginia-made crafts and products in the tourist information centers. Truck drivers look to the travel plazas for safe and secure parking.
"This is another example of Gov. Justice's vision to promote West Virginia to the nation," Executive Director of the West Virginia Parkways Authority Jeff Miller said.
"By the end of 2024, motorists along the West Virginia Turnpike will be able to enjoy new, modern travel plazas that will provide the public a wonderful service experience and a safe area to rest, all while enjoying expanded food offerings and fueling before getting back on the road."
Travel plaza customers also indicated where the existing facilities fell short. Leisure travelers, attracted by West Virginia’s scenic wonders, wanted new facilities that embrace the State’s “wild and wonderful” terrain and provide a sense of always being in touch with nature.
Commuters and road warriors wanted drive-thru service and comfortable, quiet sitting areas for work and relaxation. Over 50 percent of commercial drivers felt there was a significant or severe truck-parking shortage. All respondents wanted improved restrooms.
The newly redeveloped travel plazas will offer expanded food concepts, a 24/7 Mountain State Market convenience store, outdoor dining options, expanded parking for tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles, EV charging stations, separated vehicle and tractor-trailer fueling options, picnic area, and pet relief areas.
The Beckley Travel Plaza will offer a drive-through, increased restroom facilities, and bus parking and enhance and highlight the Parkways Authority Tourist Information Centers.
Construction of the new travel plazas is expected to be completed by late 2024.