JASPER COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) Governor Eric J. Holcomb joined the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), public officials and contracting partners on Tuesday for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the newly-constructed Kankakee Welcome Center on southbound I-65 near mile marker 231 in Jasper County.
“Indiana lives up to our destination as the Crossroads of America through our top-rated infrastructure and our commitment to getting Hoosiers and visitors to where they need to go,” said Gov. Holcomb. “Visitors passing through on I-65 will have a clean, safe and interactive experience.”
The new welcome center replaces the previous facility built in 1988, is ADA compliant and energy efficient. The design of the center is inspired by northwest Indiana landscapes and the wind power industry, represented through the building design resembling a wind turbine and blades, the dunes through three brick textures on the lower building section and the rolling roof, Lake Michigan through the upper blue glass, and the Kankakee River through the blue terrazzo flooring and custom restroom wall tile.
Travelers will have access to new amenities such as a dog park, children’s play area, adult recreation area, walking trails and pond. Commissioned art is featured on seven wind turbine blade tips displayed vertically in the pond and a full-sized blade (219′ long) displayed horizontally along the parking lot.
Also included are numerous interactive exhibits inside for visitors to enjoy, featuring the Meadow Lakes Wind Farm, Kankakee Sands, Indiana Dunes National Park, Purdue University astronauts, the northwest Indiana steel industry, Grand Kankakee Marsh, and monarch butterflies. A Fair Oaks Farm exhibit is currently in progress and will be installed at a later date. The nearly $40 million construction contract also includes the reconstruction of the northbound rest area and was awarded to Hasse Construction in 2021. Fosse and Associates Architects and Janssen and Spaans Engineering designed the new facility. Both locations have increased parking, with 150 truck parking spots on the southbound side and 75 on the northbound side. Many regional businesses and firms took part in the construction of the new welcome center