TDOT Breaks Ground on New Welcome Center on I-26

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 08:43am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer and Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) Commissioner Susan Whitaker joined state and local officials in Sullivan County today to break ground for a new welcome center on Interstate 26. The new welcome center will be located at mile marker 5, and is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2014.

“This new welcome center in Sullivan County will play a major role in welcoming visitors to Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner Schroer. “The Interstate 26 corridor is the primary route to several tourist destinations, including the Cherokee National Forest. I’m pleased to see construction begin on this important project.”

The new welcome center will feature a log cabin design, combining the warmth of Tennessee and the modern advantages of new construction. The welcome center will provide access for travelers on eastbound and westbound I-26. Interstate 26 is approximately 349 miles in length traveling through Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

“Tennessee Welcome Centers serve millions of visitors well every year, providing important information about our wonderful destinations and attractions,” said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker.  “Partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to build our 15th Welcome Center will add additional opportunity to enhance the visitors experience while traveling through our state.”

The new I-26 Welcome Center will be the 15th welcome center across the state. Welcome centers, along with the state’s 18 rest areas, are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for the Shelby County Welcome Center which closes each night. Restrooms and vending machines are available at all times. Parking is provided for passenger vehicles, tractor trailers, buses, and recreational vehicles. No overnight parking is allowed at welcome centers or rest areas.

“I’m proud to be here to break ground at the site of what will be an outstanding welcome center for Tennessee,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “Kingsport is a beautiful city and I am pleased that we will soon have a center to welcome visitors to this important area of our state.”

Representative Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport), Representative Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), and Representative Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) also represent Sullivan County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Tennessee’s Welcome Centers are constructed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and are operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. For more information, please visit


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