Skip to main content

NC House halts work on I-73/74 Welcome Centers in Randolph County

This past Wednesday, the NC House unanimously approved a bill that halts construction of two highway welcome centers in Randolph County along Interstate 73/74. Construction can only proceed after officials from the Department of Commerce and the DOT consult with the legislature.

The bill also requires both agencies to get a legislative committee's approval before building any future welcome centers.

The I-73/74 rest area's were originally slated to be 'visitor centers'. Visitor centers are operated by local counties promoting their own region. However, over time the visitor centers were promoted to Welcome Centers which are staffed and paid for by the state. Both welcome centers would cost the state $180,000 each to operate.

It appears that miscommunication between the NCDOT and the Department of Commerce led to the rest stops becoming full blown welcome centers. The DOT claims that Commerce insisted on the two rest areas becoming Welcome Centers. The Commerce Department says that they wish they were informed of the intention to make the rest areas visitor centers. The Commerce Department believes that all centers on highways should be welcome centers so that a consistency of services and message be shown throughout the state.

Story:
Welcome centers construction frozen

See Also:
I-73/74 Welcome Centers nixed


Commentary:
And that's why the legislature stepped in. If the Commerce Department wants all "highway visitor centers" to be upgraded to a Welcome Center, the state would have to increase spending to operate the facilities. It was suggested in a transportation forum, that the original intention to build the rest areas as visitor centers was the right approach. And I agree, Randolph and neighboring counties can easily pool resources to operate and maintain the visitor center and hire a staff or support local volunteers interested in promoting their community.

Allowing the two rest areas to be "visitor centers", does accomplish a constant message of promoting North Carolina. The only difference is that is has a more local approach and staffed by individuals that are proud to promote their home. And it also stays out of the state budget.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paper Highways: The Unbuilt New Orleans Bypass (Proposed I-410)

  There are many examples around the United States of proposed freeway corridors in urban areas that never saw the light of day for one reason or another. They all fall somewhere in between the little-known and the infamous and from the mundane to the spectacular. One of the more obscure and interesting examples of such a project is the short-lived idea to construct a southern beltway for the New Orleans metropolitan area in the 1960s and 70s. Greater New Orleans and its surrounding area grew rapidly in the years after World War II, as suburban sprawl encroached on the historically rural downriver parishes around the city. In response to the development of the region’s Westbank and the emergence of communities in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes as viable suburban communities during this period, regional planners began to consider concepts for new infrastructure projects to serve this growing population.  The idea for a circular freeway around the southern perimeter of t

Hernando de Soto Bridge (Memphis, TN)

The newest of the bridges that span the lower Mississippi River at Memphis, the Hernando de Soto Bridge was completed in 1973 and carries Interstate 40 between downtown Memphis and West Memphis, AR. The bridge’s signature M-shaped superstructure makes it an instantly recognizable landmark in the city and one of the most visually unique bridges on the Mississippi River. As early as 1953, Memphis city planners recommended the construction of a second highway bridge across the Mississippi River to connect the city with West Memphis, AR. The Memphis & Arkansas Bridge had been completed only four years earlier a couple miles downriver from downtown, however it was expected that long-term growth in the metro area would warrant the construction of an additional bridge, the fourth crossing of the Mississippi River to be built at Memphis, in the not-too-distant future. Unlike the previous three Mississippi River bridges to be built the city, the location chosen for this bridge was about two

Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (Memphis, TN)

  Like the expansion of the railroads the previous century, the modernization of the country’s highway infrastructure in the early and mid 20th Century required the construction of new landmark bridges along the lower Mississippi River (and nation-wide for that matter) that would facilitate the expected growth in overall traffic demand in ensuing decades. While this new movement had been anticipated to some extent in the Memphis area with the design of the Harahan Bridge, neither it nor its neighbor the older Frisco Bridge were capable of accommodating the sharp rise in the popularity and demand of the automobile as a mode of cross-river transportation during the Great Depression. As was the case 30 years prior, the solution in the 1940s was to construct a new bridge in the same general location as its predecessors, only this time the bridge would be the first built exclusively for vehicle traffic. This bridge, the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, was completed in 1949 and was the third