By Mannix Porterfield
After a long haul along the West Virginia Turnpike, truck drivers can get a refreshing shower at the Beckley travel plaza, starting May 31, after a two-year hiatus.
Showers were suspended there after numerous complaints of unsavory characters hanging out at the shower room, including hookers, and there was a reluctance by HMS Hosts to provide baths.
Under the arrangement, Turnpike Manager Greg Barr explained Thursday at a special meeting of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, the shower service will be operated by W.C. Workshop.
Truck drivers will pay $7.50 to use the shower facility, or $10 if they want a towel, soap and shampoo to be provided. There will be four shower stalls available.
Problems surfaced under the old setup, and the shower service was suspended, Barr said.
“I think the door was left open during the night so people came into the truckers’ lounge area and were hanging out there and watching TV,” he said.
Barr said the revised policy calls for the showers to be open daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
“We’re going to have cameras — not in the showers — but in the general area, the hallways and entrance,” he said.
After each shower stall is used, Barr said W.C. Workshop will clean up and a washer and dryer will be installed to clean towels and keep the area tidy. Members agreed to enter into an annual contract of $131,844 with W.C. Workshop.
“Truckers are such a big part of our business on the Turnpike,” Barr said.
“At the Beckley Travel Plaza, there’s not a parking place left every night. The trucks fill out every spot. Not that this is going to attract more truckers. It’s just kind of providing a service to our customers that provide half of our revenue and use the road. One of every five transactions is a truck. And the board decided we owe it to the truckers.”
In another decision, the authority awarded a $261,055 contract to Boggs Roofing Inc. of Huntington to install flat roofs on the Beckley, Morton and Bluestone travel plazas, replacing tops that had been installed about two decades ago, and which have begun to leak.
“We’re going to tear them off and put on pre-engineered roofs,” maintenance director Jim Meadows said. “They’re made in the factory to match our roofs. Then, they bring them in here and weld them together.”
Tri-State Roofing and Sheet Metal of Charleston offered the only other bid, one of $306,387.
Yet another improvement is being made at the Beckley travel plaza — the purchase of new tables and chairs for the dining room, from Capital Business Interiors of Charles-ton, at a cost of $104,655.
“We would have done this anyway,” Barr said, emphasizing the new furniture wasn’t motivated by the coming Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in July. “We want to be ready for the busy travel season.”
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