I-10 East Welcome Center expected to open fall of 2018

I-10 East Welcome Center expected to open fall of 2018
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

VINTON, LA (KPLC) - If you drive into Louisiana from Texas, the state's welcome center won't be open to greet you.

The I-10 East Welcome Center was torn down to be rebuilt as part of a multi-million dollar renovation project.

It was supposed to open in January of 2017, but with a year passing by, will it ever open?

When Belinda Finney passes a certain building off of I-10 every day she's left wondering.

"What are they doing," she said. "What are they waiting on to complete it?"

The Louisiana Welcome Center she used to visit as a kid hasn't been open in nearly three years.

"It was a picnic area where families got together, laughed, talked, played, eat drink and be merry," she said.

The center was torn down in July of 2015 as part of a multi-million-dollar renovation project.

The new center was projected to cost $16 million and open in early 2017, but it's over a year behind.

"There's been a series of delays," said Rodney Mallett with the Louisiana Department of Transportation. "First of all the March floods of 2016, and then Harvey, and then we had a very harsh winter with the ice and snow."

Mallett says major weather events caused the delay. Meanwhile, upgrades to the equipment caused the price tag to jump up to $18 million.

Mallett says the new center has been raised six inches above the FEMA flood line so they don't anticipate this building flooding in the future.

"We will have to have another flood of historic proportions before it will flood that building," he said.

With plans to finally open towards the end of the year, Belinda hopes she'll be able to enjoy the spot with her family again.

"I'll take my grandkids there," she said."

Mallett says they didn't consider moving the center because DOTD already owns the land, and it's right by the state line.

He says the welcome center should be open in the fall.

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