Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8: Don't Tear Apart All Turnpike Service Plazas

By Sylvia Gurinsky

A plea from those Floridians who remember using those Port-o-Let trailers at 9 p.m.: Please, please do not tear apart the Florida Turnpike service plazas again.

At least not all at once.

The state is spending $160 million to redo the eight service plazas for the second time in the last 20 years. That includes changing some of the vendors (If you like chocolate mocha lattes from Starbucks or Whoppers from Burger King, as is the case here, you're out of luck. Dunkin' Donuts and Checkers are replacing those other restaurants. There will be other changes, as well.).

The last time the service plazas were redone, Port-o-Let trailers and vending machines were put at each of the sites. The trailers were clean, air-conditioned and had running water, but that's not the entire point. Would you want to stop near a constuction site?

Changing vendors is one thing. Turning drivers' routines upside down is something else. Past experience dictates that drivers who see a bunch of construction will be less likely to stop - making the situation more dangerous.

The road system that advertises itself as "The Less Stressway" could potentially be far more stressful during construction time.

There will be efforts to get some answers from Florida's Department of Transportation about this project; those will be posted at a later date.

In the meantime, get ready for a bumpy ride, Florida motorists.

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