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Midway Service Plazas

The list can get quite lengthy.  The list of unique features the grandfather of modern highways in the United States has.   Numerous tunnels, abandoned tunnels and roadways in Bedford, Fulton and Westmoreland Counties, St. John's Church in New Baltimore, the stone faced colonial style service plazas and breathtaking scenery.  One set of service plazas located near the Bedford Interchange may be one of the most fascinating.  It is the Midway (North and South) Service Plazas.  The plazas are named "Midway" as they are located at what once was the halfway point of the original 160 mile toll road.  Midway South features a two-story colonial style building.  Midway North was a small one-story facility.  Midway South was rebuilt between 2012 and 2013, the Turnpike kept the old colonial design and stone faced exterior. In 2014, the North plaza was completely raised and rebuilt from the ground up as a more modern facility.  The new North Midway Service Plaza opened in May 2015.

The old North Midway Service Plaza in 2002.

What makes these service plazas more unique is that a tunnel underneath the Turnpike connects the two buildings.  This tunnel, now closed to travelers and the general public, is used for storage space.  The tunnel is no longer accessible at North Midway as the current restroom facilities are now above it.  The tunnels were in fact at one time open to the traveling public.  As late as the mid-sixties, you were still able to cross underneath the turnpike via the tunnel. (1) Below, John Bibber has included some photos of the tunnel.

The Interior of the Midway Service Tunnel.  (John Bibber)

Underneath the former entrance to the North Midway Plaza.  You can see the location of the original stairway.  (John Bibber)
 
This appears to be a current meeting facility or break room on the second floor of the South Midway Plaza.  (John Bibber)

Although both plazas - former homes of Esso Gas and Howard Johnson Restaurants - have undergone numerous modernization projects,  when pulling into the South Midway Plaza, the feel of the 1940's Turnpike still exists.  The quaint intimate facility combines history with the convenience and speed necessary for the modern day traveler.  In fact, not much in the outside cosmetics of the two-story South Plaza has changed when this photo of a young Mike Austing and his family was taken in the Summer of 1951.

(Mike Austing)

Site Navigation:
Sources & Links:
  • Historic PA Turnpike Service Plazas ---Interesting Pennsylvania
  • (1) Hoffman, Tom. 'Re: Midway Service Plazas Page Online.' Personal e-mail, July 20, 2002.
  • Mike Austing
  • John Bibber

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