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Welcome Center service hours reduced due to funding cuts
November 9, 2010 -- Due to a 20-percent budget reduction, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is scaling back hours of operation at the 14 Michigan Welcome Centers.
Funding for operating the Welcome Centers was cut from $5 million to $4 million in fiscal year 2010-2011, which started Oct. 1. As a result, Welcome Centers now will be closed in northern Michigan (Mackinaw City and the Upper Peninsula) on Saturdays and Sundays, and in southern Michigan on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Hours at all facilities will be 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
The department considered visitor and tourism impacts to determine the most appropriate days to close each Welcome Center. Reflecting the reduction in hours of operation, staffing hours and seasonal staff will be reduced in order to meet the overall budget.
The restrooms at the Detroit, Menominee and Iron Mountain Welcome Centers will not be available when the centers are closed. Restrooms at the other 11 Welcome Centers will remain open seven days a week.
"The Welcome Centers provide many helpful services for residents and tourists alike, but unfortunately there is insufficient funding to keep them open as many hours as they were in the past," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle.
Operation of the Welcome Centers was transferred from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to MDOT on Oct. 1. Welcome Center operations had been provided by MDOT before 1997, at which time their operation and staff were transferred to MEDC. Since that time, ownership, maintenance and funding of the facilities have remained an MDOT responsibility.
MDOT says: Construction work zones need your undivided attention.