New Thruway welcome center opens

RANDALL — Travelers on the Thruway this summer will find a reopened and reorganized travel center at Lock E-13.

On Monday, the state Thruway Authority announced the opening of the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Formerly the Lock E-13 Living History Rest Area, the center will feature a year-round facility focused the region’s history and directing visitors to the Mohawk Valley’s top tourism destinations.

“This world-class stop along the Thruway is a fantastic partnership between state agencies, spotlighting the great agricultural products of the Mohawk Valley while promoting the region’s tourism and local businesses,” Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul said in a news release. “As a year-round destination, the new Mohawk Valley Welcome Center will offer travelers a place to rest, enjoy some great New York eats, and learn about the region’s incredible history. This is the perfect way to promote our state, sell our products, promote tourism and most importantly – bring more jobs to upstate New York.”

According to the release, the welcome center offers visitors interactive kiosks promoting the state’s tourism industry, Taste NY station with local food and beverages offerings, restrooms and more.

The expanded welcome center’s grounds now feature a Path Through History, showcasing the state’s historical past, a Walk of Fame highlighting influential individuals from the Mohawk Valley, an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant playground, covered porch overlooking the scenic Erie Canal, three electric vehicle charging stations and pet comfort areas, according to the Thruway Authority.

The center can be accessed from the westbound portion of Interstate 90 at milemarker 187 between Exit 28 in Fultonville and Exit 29 in Canajoharie.

Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said in a statement, “I want to thank the governor, the Canal Corporation and the Thruway Authority for their commitment to this welcome center, which will be an asset to our community. It’s wonderful to have state projects occurring in Montgomery County that help to draw visitors to our local attractions and destinations. I am pleased with the improvements that were made, as they showcase the natural beauty throughout the Mohawk Valley and highlight the rich history located here in Montgomery County.”

The center originally opened in July 2016 and functioned as a Taste NY store and to showcase tourism destinations in Mohawk Valley. The store was only open seasonally. It was renovated over the winter and spring.

The renovated Taste NY section will again be staffed by Liberty ARC. It will function as an extension of the agency’s Liberty Fresh Market employment training program, this location will help individuals with Liberty ARC gain useful job skills and hands-on work experience.

“The expansion of the Lock 13 Living History Park into a premier Mohawk Valley Welcome Center not only opens the door to an unparalleled tourism experience but also continues to give the individuals at Liberty ARC the opportunity to have meaningful and engaging work,” said Liberty CEO Jennifer Saunders in the release. “It’s vital to these individuals to be given the chance to learn, prosper and engage with others in an environment such as the Welcome Center. Liberty ARC is proud, to once again, join with these [state] agencies and regional partners to create new and innovative jobs for those with developmental and physical disabilities.”

By Patricia Older

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