Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, addresses the crowd at the ground breaking for the new welcome center on Interstate 26 near the Rock Springs exit. Photo by Ned Jilton II
KINGSPORT — The Tennessee Department of Transportation expects its newest welcome center on Interstate 26 in Kingsport to open in July 2014 and serve about 400,000 visitors each year.
TDOT officials made this announcement during a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday at the site of the new welcome center, with dozens of state, city and county officials in attendance.
“People used to say it’ll be a cold day when you open a welcome center in Kingsport. Well, it’s a cold day,” said Mayor Dennis Phillips, a nod to the cold, windy weather at the time of the ceremony. “This does mean a lot for Kingsport.”
The new welcome center — the 15th in the state — will be located on I-26 (mile marker 5.8), between the Wilcox Drive and Rock Springs Road exits. It will be a log cabin style building, similar in size and appearance to the one built in Unicoi County a few years ago.
The new welcome center is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2014.Read more in the Thursday print edition of the Times-News or in the expanded electronic edition.