Fuel truck driver Dusty Fisher makes a delivery Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 at the Strawberry Plains Pilot Travel Center. Amy Smotherman Burgess/News SentinelAmy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel
Pilot Flying J is America's largest operator of travel centers and plazas with more than 550 gas stations and truck stops in 47 states.
But south of its home base in Knox County, Pilot doesn't have an outlet along Interstate 75 until motorists reach Dalton, Ga.
By June, however, Pilot plans to fill the void with a new travel center at Exit 20 on I-75 in Cleveland, Tenn. The $4 million facility -- a former BP station which Pilot bought and is expanding -- will add a McDonald's franchise along with a combined Cinnabon and Subway outlet in the Pilot store.
"We think this is a great location, just on the outskirts of Chattanooga, and it fits right into our network," said Mike Mulligan, vice president of development for Pilot.
The interchange of APD-40 and Interstate 75 at exit 20 is the road to a proposed new industrial park in southern Bradley County, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said.
The new Pilot travel center will include seven showers and a parking lot for semi-trailers. But like most such Pilot stations, four out of five of those visiting Pilot are car travelers, Mulligan said.
"We cater to both the locals and transients and we serve both the 4-wheel and the 18-wheel traveler," he said.
The new station will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and employ more than 80 employees, officials said.
Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...