West Memphis Welcome Center Still Incomplete Three Years Later

West Memphis Welcome Center Still Incomplete Three Years Later

The multi-million dollar project is just across the I-40 bridge and has been under construction for three years.
WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - Will West Memphis' new welcome center ever open? The multi-million dollar project is just across the I-40 bridge and has been under construction for three years.

Project managers say the center is finally close to opening, but we've heard that before.

The welcome center is expected to have a quarter of a million visitors each year. The first could walk through its doors in a matter of weeks.

"They've been working on it for a while. I began to wonder when they're going to open it," says Ora Oldman.

The latest word from the Arkansas Highway Department: four weeks.

"It's looking real good," Oldman says.

Engineers say they're waiting on the contractor to finish a final checklist. They're not ready to set a specific date, but estimate around a month.

"It will be a lot better for everybody. As soon as it opens up it will be a lot better," says Debbie Farrow, who works next door to the center. "Ever since it's been being built I have been watching it."

And she's seen the delays.

"They're just taking their time with it," says Cortez Jeffries.

When workers missed the August 2012 finish date, residents began to wonder about the project.

"I definitely think it's going to open," Jeffries says.

More than six months later, residents are feeling optimistic, hoping the tentative new deadline holds.

"It should be probably less than that. I hope so," Jeffries says. "I'll try to be the first one in it and see what it looks like.'

So what's to blame for the delay? Rain and the Mississippi River flood in 2011. The project is also funded by stimulus money. Workers say there have been hold-ups there too.
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