Ribbon Cutting held at new Maryland Welcome Center; I-70 Welcome Centers open with kiosks and new Interpretive Panels

Ribbon Cutting held at new Maryland Welcome Center; I-70 Welcome Centers open with kiosks and new Interpretive Panels
Maryland Office of Tourism and State Highway Administration Unveil Exhibits at Eco-Friendly Welcome Centers Along Interstate 70

Following the Summer 2010 opening of the South Mountain Rest Areas in Frederick, the Maryland Office of Tourism and the State Highway Administration unveiled the site's exterior exhibits during a ribbon cutting ceremony. Each nearly 4,000 square foot facility will offer visitors travel information as well as a comprehensive orientation to the region's heritage, recreational and cultural resources.
"The South Mountain Welcome Centers are an essential resource for travelers heading East and West bound along the busy I-70 corridor," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "The increased efficiency of these eco-friendly facilities will offer thousands of travelers who pass through the rest areas and Welcome Centers each day an opportunity to learn about Maryland's rich heritage and abundant resources while minimizing their carbon footprint."
The design & build project was constructed by Kinsley Construction Company located in Timonium, Maryland. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded the project a Silver Certificate based on the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new construction. The environmentally conscious design will reduce energy consumption and operating cost through lower energy use lighting, geothermal radiant floor heating, sensors to monitor water usage and a new wastewater treatment plant.
"So much thought and effort was put into the design of the South Mountain Welcome Centers," said Margot Amelia, executive director for the Maryland Office of Tourism. "We hope that generations of visitors traveling along I-70 through Maryland will be able to create lasting memories as they pass through on their journey."
Tom Riford, the President and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau joined with elected officials, and business and community leaders at the ceremony.
Electronic-interactive kiosks are available on the exterior of the Welcome Centers to provide visitors with 24/7 access to travel itineraries, downloadable maps and information on local attractions and accommodation. Although restaurant information is not available, it will be added during the next phase of development. Printers are on-site for visitors preferring paper copies. The Welcome Centers will be staffed, Friday through Sunday, 8:30am-4:30pm.
Designed by Howard + Revis Design Services, the signature Welcome Mat - a black granite walkway located between the Welcome Center and the rest area - was designed to draw visitors across the plaza to the front door of the Welcome Center. It includes engraved images and facts that represent the heritage of the region.
Along the Welcome Mat there are three thematic exhibit panels: Crossroads of Conflict - focuses on this region's role in the outcome of the Civil War. It highlights three crucial campaigns: Antietam, Gettysburg and Monocacy; In Search of Adventure- highlights the region's offerings of outdoor recreation, wineries, shops and other adventurous pursuits and; Crucible of the Nation -depicts the region's role in decisive moments that shaped the nation such as Camp David, the Underground Railroad and the question of slavery, Francis Scott Key's roots and the Star Spangled Banner. It also includes the region's role in opening and expanding westward settlements through building railroads, canals and roads such as the Historic National Road.
Additionally, there is an orientation map that provides a panoramic view from the Welcome Center created by artist Bill Reynolds - who painted vignettes representing the recreational and historical attractions and themes. The artistic rendering of this map speaks to the visitor about the many interesting things to see and do in the area.
"Now that the South Mountain Welcome Centers and rest areas are open, I-70 travelers have an improved place for rest and rejuvenation when driving," stated SHA District 7 Engineer Dave Coyne. "SHA reminds visitors to remember the rules of the road by buckling up and driving at the appropriate speed limits."