A few years ago, a decade-long project to rebuild or modernize most of the rest stop areas on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway was launched.

Now, we get word the first rebuilt facility is about to reopen for travelers, just in time for the unofficial start of the summer season.

Tom Feeney, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the Parkway's new Monmouth service area is basically finished.

“HMS Host, which operates most of the food concessions in there, should open certainly by next week — certainly before Memorial Day," he said.

The Sunoco gas station at that facility has also been upgraded and is already open.

He said the Monmouth Service Area will have a Z Market, a Shake Shack, Starbucks and an Auntie Anne’s.

Feeney said the original plan was to have the Thomas Edison service area on the Turnpike in Woodbridge open by the end of next week as well, however “that is not going to be done by Memorial Day, but should be done shortly thereafter.”

He said work also continues on the Alexander Hamilton service area on the Turnpike in Secaucus.

“It’s been demolished and is being replaced with a large Sunoco convenience store with a Starbucks in it," he said. "That’ll be opened sometime this summer.”

HMS Host, the operator of most of Jersey’s service areas, is spending $126 million to modernize its facilities, and Sunoco, the company that provides fuel at the rest areas, is investing about $90 million to upgrade its stations.

“There’s no cost to toll payers," Feeney said. "The cost is being borne by the companies that operate there, in exchange for longer terms for their contracts, so they’ll be in there for 25 years.”

Nine service areas are being torn down and rebuilt on the two toll roads. Six other facilities “are getting significantly rehabbed," and four service rest areas are new and do not need to be upgraded, Feeney said.

“Next year the Vince Lombardi (service area) on the Turnpike and the Forked River on the Parkway are scheduled to be demolished and replaced with new facilities, and the Richard Stockton on the Turnpike is going to be closed for an overhaul," Feeny said.

He said two rest areas on the Parkway in Woodridge, near exit 133, are privately owned and not under the direction of the Turnpike Authority, so they are not included in the upgrade plan. Two other rest areas on the Parkway are not operated by HMS Host so they are not being modernized either.

“We’re doing it because they are old and in need of replacement or significant overhaul," Feeny said.

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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