Public-private partnership assures no cost to taxpayers
Gov. Peter Shumlin, Department of Buildings and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski, and Transportation Secretary Chris Cole Dec. 11 joined the partners of Maplewood LTD to sign an agreement and break ground on the state’s first 24-hour Vermont Traveler Services Center. The center will be built and operated at no cost to Vermont taxpayers as part of Maplewood’s redevelopment of the existing convenience store and deli located in Berlin off I-89’s Exit 7.
The Vermont Traveler Services Center will be a 9,000 square foot facility that honors Vermont’s rural culture and country stores. The facility and a neighboring hotel will be powered entirely by a nearby 500kW solar array.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the state to provide these important traveler services,” said Randy LaGue, a co-owner of Maplewood LTD. “This new facility will offer a full service convenience store with a deli, grill, indoor and outdoor seating, Vermont gifts and products, fuel for cars and trucks and comfortable rest rooms–all under one roof.”
LaGue said it will have the capacity to serve more than 5,000 customers a day, and will be the only center of its type in Vermont open all day, every day.
“This is a great example of what can happen when we look for creative ways to provide Vermonters and our visitors with more services at no expense to the taxpayers,” said Governor Shumlin. “I am grateful to Commissioner Obuchowski, Secretary Cole, Mr. LaGue, and Mr. Lamberton for working hard to make this project a win for travelers and tourists and a win for our taxpayers.”
Shumlin noted that, under the agreement with the State, 100 percent of the staff at the Vermont Traveler Services Center will be trained and certified as official “Ambassadors” by the Vermont Department of Marketing and Tourism, Vermont Ambassador Program. The facility will also count all vehicle and pedestrian traffic for reporting to the state and include an interactive information kiosk and courtesy phone that allows travelers to connect with hospitality services and area attractions.
The state is installing and maintaining full-size signs on the northbound and southbound sides of I-89, as well as the eastbound and westbound lanes of the adjacent Vermont Route 62. The Vermont Traveler Services Center will also be featured on the state’s website and in related published material.
Secretary of Transportation Chris Cole said, “It is important to provide travelers with safe, convenient places to stop. The fact that these services will not consume transportation fund resources means we can devote more dollars to infrastructure and maintenance projects.”
Commissioner Obuchowski said, “Providing convenient, safe and professional services to our visitors and to Vermonters travelling our highways is a core part of our department’s mission… When we can provide these services without having to burden Vermont taxpayers, it’s a big win for the state.”
Construction in Berlin is expected to be completed, with the facility open, in September of 2016.