Demolition begins at Vinita Service Plaza on I-44 - KOAM TV 7

Demolition begins at Vinita Service Plaza on I-44

Updated June 25, 2013:  Crews began demolition of the Interstate 44 service plaza at Vinita, Oklahoma Tuesday morning.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority had said the 1957 structure was in dis-repair and changes needed to be made.

A new $14 million facility, paid for with Oklahoma toll money, will host a McDonalds and Subway, visitor's center, wifi-café and new convenience stores.

The service plaza may be best known as holding the former largest McDonald's in the world.


Updated June 3, 2013:  Renovations at the Vinita Service Plaza begin Tuesday June 4.  The service plaza, which includes what was once the largest McDonald's in the world, has crossed over the Interstate 44 corridor since 1957.  But without any major reconstruction since then the historic plaza has come upon some disrepair.

Authorities believe it will take about a year for the renovations to be completed.

In the meantime, this means drivers will not have access to that rest stop for fuel, food and restrooms - and there will be no service plazas on the Interstate from Tulsa to the Oklahoma/Missouri border.

Drivers need to plan accordingly.


News release from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) announced scheduled renovations on the Vinita Service Plaza will begin June 4, 2013.

The estimated yearlong renovations will include enhanced restrooms, a McDonald's and Subway restaurant, a larger convenience store, and gas station with regular and diesel fuel. All current tenants of the Plaza will be closed during renovations. 

The Turnpike, however, will remain open to traffic. OTA will work diligently to keep access to the turnpike as unaffected as possible. Motorists and tourists are encouraged to take alternative exits and explore other Oklahoma cities for their fuel and food needs.

"We encourage travelers and motorists to explore Oklahoma," said Tim Stewart, executive director of Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. "This will be done fast. It will be done right. In the meantime, there will be other great Oklahoma options for those traveling through the area."

There will be no OTA service plazas available from the Oklahoma/Missouri border to Tulsa. Motorists and travelers should use exits 238, 240A, 248, 255, 283, 289,302, 312 313 and 329, between Tulsa and the Oklahoma, Missouri state line for their food, fuel and rest stop needs.

For more information about this project and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, please visit www.pikepass.com

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Reported March 28, 2013 by Liz Holliday:  A historic roadside attraction off of the Will Roger's Turnpike has multi-million dollar renovations ahead.  The McDonald's Service Plaza in Vinita was built in 1957 and was one of the first of its kind.

It's located on a bridge that crosses over the Interstate 44 corridor.  In the 60's it was the biggest McDonald's in the world.

But without any major reconstruction since then the historic plaza on the Will Rogers Turnpike has come upon some disrepair.

"It was in desperate need of repair, total rebuild," says Jack Damrill of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.  "We needed to look at all of our options up here on the Will Roger's Turnpike, as far as our services were concerned."

According to the Turnpike Authority much needed amenities from an extended parking lot, wireless café and a new Subway restaurant will be added.

"We are trying to create a place that is inviting to people," says Damrill.  "It's an iconic structure and we hope to really provide a place that when people come in and stop will say 'wow, that was fabulous - that was a nice stop.'"

The authority says the $14 million demolition and rebuild will mean the center will be closed for up to a year, leaving the millions of annual visitors forced to find food elsewhere and leave the highway down to one lane during the process.

"Coming upon it, it's wonderful," says Carol Ann Dilbartolomeo, a tourist from Canada.  "It's a good idea to have something that services both sides of the highway.  Inside it's seen it's better days.  Yeah, it's probably time for a redo."

The Authority says the archway and bridge will remain intact as part of the renovation but that new modern entryways will be built.  The hope being to rebuild the structure and making the plaza a great destination for travelers.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Construction says construction is due to start this summer and should take a little over a year to complete.

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