The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) along with the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) will be permanently closing the I-95 North Welcome Center today, Thursday, September 29, 2011. The facility, located between exits 2 and 3 on the Interstate, is being closed due to a lack of funds and changes in tourism trends nationwide.
RIDOT budgets $400,000 annually for the Welcome Center. RIEDC operates the facility. RIDOT has many expenses and can no longer continue paying for the center.
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 The Internet and GPS devices have replaced these more outdated approaches to getting information.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.
Currently the building is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The parking lot is open 24/7.
"RIDOT Maintenance personnel will close off access with Jersey barrier after the area permanently closes," said Michael P. Lewis, RIDOT's Director.
RIEDC will let three full time and three part time employees go. They will be eligible for unemployment and job placement assistance from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007 Judy Chong, RI EDC, 401-278-9100 x169