After Closing One Welcome Center- R.I. Gets $9M From Feds to Open Another

By Eric Scheiner | November 4, 2015 | 9:37am EST
A sign welcomes travelers to Rhode Island.

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved a $9 million federal grant of taxpayer dollars to build a new welcome center in Rhode Island.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has announced the federal approval of the state’s application for a competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant if state officials decide to move forward with the welcome center project.

“This is an opportunity to build a first-class travel plaza that offers visitors and local residents new, convenient retail, food, fuel and travel options,” Reed says in a press release on his website.

The proposed project would place the new facility at I-95 Exit 1 in Hopkinton, near the border with Connecticut. 

Rhode Island closed a Welcome Center on I-95 North between exits 2 and 3 in 2011 “due to a lack of funds and changes in tourism trends nationwide.”

A Rhode Island state government press release from September of 2011, explains the decision to close the facility.

“The Welcome Center is not used the way it once was. When it opened in 1989, travelers would pick up informational brochures and maps as well as get directions. The Internet and GPS devices have replaced these more outdated approaches to getting information. Today the Center is mainly used as a place to rest or find a bathroom and that can be done at other locations. Exit 3 (Route 138) has many gas stations, restaurants and convenience stores close to the highway interchange. Additionally, a large truck stop is located at Exit 5B (Route 102) in West Greenwich.”

Reed’s website notes the closure of the previous welcome center and says, “RIDOT has also indicated that, under a separate project, it plans to re-open the old welcome center between Exits 2 and 3 and re-purpose it into an active truck stop.”

The release on Reed's website does not mention the large truck stop located at exit 5B, or what impact another truck stop before exit 3 would have on it.

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