LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Louisiana I-10 Welcome Center at the Texas and Louisiana border, also known as the Toomey Rest Area, had it’s soft opening on May 30.
However, it closed again on June 7.
The price tag for the project was around $16 million.
When the project originally began in July 2015, it was projected to be complete January 2017.
The project included improvements to the parking areas, a bus drop-off area and pavilion, addition of concrete waterfront boardwalk and walkways, installation of a new sewage treatment plant and sanitary sewer system, closed-circuit television security and electrical systems and enhanced lighting.
Many people who live and travel around the rest area say the longer it’s closed, the more damage is done.
“I just think that it stops the tourism from around here. And, we need to probably figure out what it’s going to take to get it open," said Don Snider, the pastor of a church in Vinton.
The project is run by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
KPLC reached out to DOTD for an interview about the rest area, but never heard back.
Tammy York, the Public Information Officer with Lake Charles DOTD, did send a statement:
“The construction project is complete for the Toomey Rest Area. The rest area opened to the public on May 30 as a soft opening. Unfortunately, the rest area closed on June 7 due to a water well issue. We are currently working to identify and resolve the issue. The rest area will remain closed until the issue has been resolved. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work to reopen the rest area.”
However for many locals, they’re patience is wearing thin.
“You’d think with the amount of time they’ve had, to work on it, they would have had things like that figured out ahead of time," said Bobby Daniel, who lives and works in Vinton. "You know, to avoid situations like that. I don’t know if it’s poor planning, or poor post-planning, I’m not sure where they failed on that.”
Local businesses are also feeling the need for an open welcome center, saying without one, they don’t believe tourists will know what they have to offer.
“They’re like, what’s next to go eat, can we eat in Vinton, because they’re hungry," said Jenny Ruiz, who’s mom owns Nana’s Ice Cream in Vinton. "So, tell them, there’s not a lot in Vinton, but whatever’s here, almost everything is pretty good.”
They all had the same message for DOTD.
“Let’s get it open, so everybody knows we’re here," said Snider.