ANGOLA, Ind. (WFFT) — The cut of a ribbon marks the opening of a rest stop folks have been waiting years for.
One of those people, State Representative Dennis Zent, says that road trips with antsy grandkids will definitely benefit.
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"Any time you're on a trip, I remember the children would always say are we about there yet?" Zent said. "Well, grandchildren, in this case, would always ask me when is it going to be done?"
The Pigeon Creek Welcome Center, located on Interstate 69 just south of Angola, opened its doors to the public Wednesday morning.
The $4.4 million facility is more than just bathrooms and a place to grab a snack, Indiana Department of Transportation Communications Director Toni Mayo says it's a slice of Hoosier life.
"A metal roof, red barn siding - we want visitors to say this is Indiana heritage right here," Mayo said.
Steuben County is known for its rural communities as well as its lakes. From the 18-foot windmill to the shiny silo that reads "Indiana Welcomes You," the building reflects what Architect Jay Smith says Northeast Indiana is all about.
"We developed it trying to use community elements throughout," Smith said. "We came upon the agricultural design and used that as our basis and that's why it kind of has a barn/country look to it."
INDOT leaders say the welcome center is entirely ADA accessible, including restrooms.
Family restrooms are also now available as an added convenience for motorists.
The property features nearly 70 parking spaces currently, and a project next spring will add an additional 70 spaces to the parking area to provide additional parking for both passenger vehicles and commercial truck drivers.
What sets this Welcome Center apart is the Tourism Room, which is lined with glass cases filled with memorabilia from Pokagon State Park, Steuben County Schools, and Trine University. The room feels like you're in a museum.
Pigeon Creek is the first of ten new centers planned for Indiana. INDOT Statewide Facilities Management Director Steve Mcavoy says each one will tell its own story.
"We try to design each one of them to represent the industry or the geography or the history of the region," Mcavoy said.
INDOT's next project will be located on I-65 southbound, near the Kankakee River. Construction is set for spring 2021.