The state has signed an agreement with a Central Vermont developer to build the first privately run rest area on Interstate 89.
The new visitor center will offer the same amenities as state-run facilities.
At a signing ceremony in Randolph on Wednesday, Governor Peter Shumlin said the new center at Exit 4 of the interstate will save the expense of replacing and maintaining an aging state-run rest area nearby.
"This particular project will serve by our estimates over 500,000 traveling motorists. It will showcase Vermont products, crafts and services and it will not cost Vermont taxpayers one single dime," Shumlin said.
The state would provide highway signs for the new visitor center, but all other costs, including staffing it once its open, will be paid by Randolph developer Sam Sammis.
Sammis says he’ll build the visitor center as part of a larger project at Exit 4, which includes residential units and manufacturing space.
Sammis says he’s willing to pay the cost of building and operating a public rest area because it will bring in traffic and attract other businesses, including a hotel.
"Some of the major hotel chains have been in touch with me saying, ‘when you get that improved we want to talk to you’. "So the visitor center itself is like an infrastructure cost," Sammis says.
Sammis says he hopes to receive Act 250 approval process in the next 6 months and open the new facility two years from now.