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Author Topic: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???  (Read 1439 times)

thenetwork

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I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« on: September 24, 2023, 09:53:51 PM »

Over the last couple of months, I've noticed some "changes" to the WB I-70 Rest Area/Welcome Center, located near Thompson Springs:

The "Welcome Center" portion of the Rest Area is now closed with a sign stating "CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE"

UDOT is currently replacing the large blue REST AREA/WELCOME CENTER/VENDING MACHINES signs with smaller, generic REST AREA signs...Both the old and new sets of bbs were standing next to each other as of last Tuesday (9/19).

Anyone know if they are planning to rebuild or remodel the older Rest Area, or does this mark the end of the Utah Welcome Center for I-70 West travelers?   

I know it's not a very busy location due to the remoteness, but it contained a valuable source of information to those bound for Moab, Utah's National Parks and Salt Lake City.
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US 89

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2023, 10:13:55 PM »

I have fond memories of that welcome center. When I was a kid, whenever we drove back to Salt Lake from Denver, we would always stop at that welcome center and hike up to the gazebo thing on top of the nearby hill. There's a picture of a ~6 year old me standing up there pointing at the cars on I-70 below.

The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2023, 11:20:54 AM »

Even if the welcome center is demolished, maybe they could build a new one closer to the Colorado/Utah border. Otherwise, you still have the Harley's Dome View Area to stop at.
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US 89

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2023, 12:56:44 PM »

Even if the welcome center is demolished, maybe they could build a new one closer to the Colorado/Utah border. Otherwise, you still have the Harley's Dome View Area to stop at.

That seems extremely unlikely. A fully functioning welcome center is going to need permanent water and electricity and I don't know that that sort of infrastructure even exists that far east. If the groundwork for utilities isn't set up out there yet, that is going to be quite expensive. Also something even further away from civilization is going to be even more expensive to operate.

If it truly is closing and they plan on replacing it, my bet is it'll be replaced by something west of Crescent Junction, perhaps right across from the existing eastbound rest area or even somewhere close to Green River. The advantage there is it also allows the welcome center to also serve traffic heading northwest from the US 191 or 491 corridor, which currently doesn't have a welcome center and is only served by a small unstaffed rest area about halfway between Moab and SR 46. The combined corridor welcome center concept is already used in Utah up near Brigham City, where they have one welcome center to serve both I-84 and I-15 instead of having two separate ones further north.

thenetwork

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2023, 08:39:11 PM »

Even if the welcome center is demolished, maybe they could build a new one closer to the Colorado/Utah border. Otherwise, you still have the Harley's Dome View Area to stop at.

That seems extremely unlikely. A fully functioning welcome center is going to need permanent water and electricity and I don't know that that sort of infrastructure even exists that far east. If the groundwork for utilities isn't set up out there yet, that is going to be quite expensive. Also something even further away from civilization is going to be even more expensive to operate.

If it truly is closing and they plan on replacing it, my bet is it'll be replaced by something west of Crescent Junction, perhaps right across from the existing eastbound rest area or even somewhere close to Green River. The advantage there is it also allows the welcome center to also serve traffic heading northwest from the US 191 or 491 corridor, which currently doesn't have a welcome center and is only served by a small unstaffed rest area about halfway between Moab and SR 46. The combined corridor welcome center concept is already used in Utah up near Brigham City, where they have one welcome center to serve both I-84 and I-15 instead of having two separate ones further north.

I can't see UDOT building a new rest area on WB I-70 WEST of Crescent Junction, as then you are not helping travelers from Colorado obtain info on Moab and Arches NP.

What would make better sense if they would look to relocate the rest area and welcome center in the future, they could always build it between the Thompson Springs and Crescent Jct exits where the barely-used Ports of Entry/Weigh stations currently sit.

Better yet, to kill multiple birds with one stone:

Buy out the ugly neon-green Jackass Jerky tourist trap stand at Crescent Junction (the one with the waaay overpriced gas and paint peeling Scooby-Doo Van), build a really nice welcome center/rest area in it's place (expanded, of course to handle larger footprint) to serve both directions of I-70 and US-191 from the South.  Normal-priced gas is at the Thompson exit.  You can downgrade the current Rest Areas Into Utah's infamous View Areas, allowing for truck parking and simpler rest rooms.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2023, 10:23:38 PM »

Apparently it closed in November 2021 after the state Office of Tourism stopped funding it:

Thompson Welcome Center closed in 2021 due to costs

Quote from: Moab Times-Independent
The Thompson Welcome Center, located about three miles east of Thompson Springs on Interstate 70, closed in November 2021 after the Utah Office of Tourism stopped funding its upkeep.

The office had previously paid Grand County $85,000 annually to maintain the rest stop, an agreement that ceased in 2021 according to Utah Office of Tourism Managing Director Vicki Varela.

“We don’t have the resources,” Varela said, to maintain the aging Thompson stop.

Varela said that decades after their midcentury construction, state-run welcome centers and rest stops no longer fit visitors’ needs or contribute to downtown economies. She said visitation to the centers has declined dramatically.

“What people should experience about Utah is what they can get at the … centers downtown,” Varela said. “So over time we just had to phase out funding.”

The restrooms in the welcome center remain open, confirmed Utah Department of Transportation Senior Communications Manager Kevin Kitchen. He said the department currently plans to continue maintaining that portion of the rest stop.

thenetwork

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2023, 11:01:24 PM »

Apparently it closed in November 2021 after the state Office of Tourism stopped funding it:

Thompson Welcome Center closed in 2021 due to costs

Quote from: Moab Times-Independent
The Thompson Welcome Center, located about three miles east of Thompson Springs on Interstate 70, closed in November 2021 after the Utah Office of Tourism stopped funding its upkeep.

The office had previously paid Grand County $85,000 annually to maintain the rest stop, an agreement that ceased in 2021 according to Utah Office of Tourism Managing Director Vicki Varela.

“We don’t have the resources,”  Varela said, to maintain the aging Thompson stop.

Varela said that decades after their midcentury construction, state-run welcome centers and rest stops no longer fit visitors’ needs or contribute to downtown economies. She said visitation to the centers has declined dramatically.

“What people should experience about Utah is what they can get at the … centers downtown,”  Varela said. “So over time we just had to phase out funding.”

The restrooms in the welcome center remain open, confirmed Utah Department of Transportation Senior Communications Manager Kevin Kitchen. He said the department currently plans to continue maintaining that portion of the rest stop.

Did not know that...My work travels through there were usually between 6-8 AM, well before the Welcome center would open for the day. It just recently caught my attention when they were starting to switch out signs.

It's too bad, since Moab & Arches are about 30 minutes south of the Interstate on US-191.  Having no information center by the interstate makes little to no sense at all, especially since I wouldn't trust that neon green tourist trap at Crescent Jct -- the place looks too creepy.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2023, 11:05:49 PM »

Let's be real though... if you're on westbound I-70 at Thompson Springs and you're going to Moab, you're already doing it wrong because you missed out on 128.

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2023, 11:10:08 PM »

Let's be real though... if you're on westbound I-70 at Thompson Springs and you're going to Moab, you're already doing it wrong because you missed out on 128.
But you can still double back on US 191.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2023, 09:59:34 AM »

It's too bad, since Moab & Arches are about 30 minutes south of the Interstate on US-191.  Having no information center by the interstate makes little to no sense at all, especially since I wouldn't trust that neon green tourist trap at Crescent Jct -- the place looks too creepy.

Let's be real though... if you're on westbound I-70 at Thompson Springs and you're going to Moab, you're already doing it wrong because you missed out on 128.

And let's be real...  if you're on westbound I-70 at Thompson Springs and you're going to Moab, you've already learned what sights there are to see in the area and have already made arrangements ahead of time for lodging and sightseeing.  You don't need to stop off at a welcome center to find that stuff out.  No, driving somewhere and just finding stuff out when you get there is a road trip mentality from a bygone era, no longer appealing to the large majority of travelers–and not even really possible in this age of always-at-capacity, reservation-only national park campgrounds.

Which, I'm sure, is why ...


Quote from: Moab Times-Independent
Varela said ... state-run welcome centers and rest stops no longer fit visitors’ needs ... [and] visitation to the centers has declined dramatically.

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pderocco

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2023, 09:41:50 PM »

They don't need a welcome center, they just need cell service. Everyone's got a web browser in their pocket.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2023, 10:47:55 PM »

They don't need a welcome center, they just need cell service. Everyone's got a web browser in their pocket.

1) Not everyone has a smart phone with a data plan yet.

2) There's the chance of finding something in the welcome center that one wouldn't otherwise know to search for.
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DenverBrian

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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2023, 08:12:05 PM »

They don't need a welcome center, they just need cell service. Everyone's got a web browser in their pocket.

1) Not everyone has a smart phone with a data plan yet.

2) There's the chance of finding something in the welcome center that one wouldn't otherwise know to search for.
1) Just because there are 7 people left in the area without a smartphone doesn't make pderocco's comment invalid.

2) Hey, there's the chance you might find a winning lottery ticket near the trash can at the welcome center. But "there's a chance" doesn't invalidate pderocco's comment either.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2023, 02:42:55 PM »

Just because there are 7 people left in the area without a smartphone doesn't make pderocco's comment invalid.

FWIW, approximately 10% of Americans don't own a smartphone, though the number continues to decrease.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2023, 02:48:51 PM »

Just because there are 7 people left in the area without a smartphone doesn't make pderocco's comment invalid.

FWIW, approximately 10% of Americans don't own a smartphone, though the number continues to decrease.
So...7 was a pretty good guess.
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Re: I-70/Utah Welcome Center, RIP???
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2023, 03:19:51 PM »



Just because there are 7 people left in the area without a smartphone doesn't make pderocco's comment invalid.

FWIW, approximately 10% of Americans don't own a smartphone, though the number continues to decrease.

So...7 was a pretty good guess.

Considering the remoteness of the location, 7 might actually be an overestimate...  :biggrin:
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