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PHL: New Jersey Visitors Center

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Guest donaltopablo

DRPA to build visitors center in Pennsauken

The Delaware River Port Authority said Wednesday it received a federal grant of $500,000 to build a visitors center in Pennsauken, N.J.

The DRPA, which oversees major bridges spanning the Delaware River, will work with the South Jersey Tourism Corp. to design, operate and maintain the facility.

Plans call for a Welcome Center to be built on the eastbound side of Admiral Wilson Boulevard, U.S. Route 30, which links the Ben Franklin Bridge to much of South Jersey. An estimated 15 million drivers make the trek past the site annually.

"New Jersey state welcome centers are primarily located on the north and south highways, such as those on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. There are none available to service those coming from Philadelphia, over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the second largest visitor feeder market into New Jersey," South Jersey Tourism Corp. President Judi London said. This will fill that void, she added.

The Welcome Center will be built on the site of a former motel, the DRPA said. That stretch of the boulevard -- long known for seedy motels, liquor stores and strip clubs -- was the focus of an intensive cleanup effort in 2000, when state and the DRPA joined forces to acquire and raze many of the businesses. The site is bordered by the Admiral Wilson Boulevard on one side and the Cooper River on the other.

Money for the project was secured by the DRPA through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement Funds. Funds will be dispersed through the N.J. Department of Transportation.

Plans for the Welcome Center call for a building of 3,000 square feet and a parking lot for 24 vehicles. Visitors will have access to tour and travel technology, maps, message boards and other travel information. The site will also promote use of public transportation, including PATCO High Speed Line and N.J. Transit's Camden-Trenton RiverLine.

Behind the property, bike racks and picnic tables will be available for people using bike and pedestrian trails along the Cooper River.

"It will be a visible reminder that South Jersey is a great place to live, work and play," said DRPA Vice Chairman Jeff Nash.

"The new South Jersey Welcome Center would fill that void by providing information and services to visitors coming into New Jersey, as well as to those who live and work in the region, about the wealth of historic and cultural sites and towns, arts venues, attractions, shopping areas, hotels, events and festivals in South Jersey," London said.

Design work is expected to start immediately. Construction will take up to a year, the DRPA said.

South Jersey Tourism Corp. was created last year through a DRPA grant. It promotes tourism and related economic development in Burlington, Mercer, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties.

The DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, as well as the PATCO High Speed Line, the AmeriPort Intermodal Rail Center, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry.

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With the new visitors center being proposed by US 30 (Admiral Wilson Blvd), this would also be in close proximity to Campbell Field (Camden's Minor League Baseball Team), Rutgers-Camden and the NJ State Aquarium. If it was not for Camdens efforts for revitilization along the Delaware River so close to the Ben Franklin Bridge, i would say this location is a bad idea for a welcome center. Also, i do not believe many out of towners (beyond the Philadelphia metro area) will be using I-676 and/or US 30 into NJ, they will be using I-76 from the west. Another welcome center should be built before the NJ 42/55 split so tourists are given an idea what to look for in Atlantic City, Cape May, the beach resort towns of south jersey and the Delaware Bay esturary that few even know about!

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The Welcome Center will be built on the site of a former motel, the DRPA said. That stretch of the boulevard -- long known for seedy motels, liquor stores and strip clubs -- was the focus of an intensive cleanup effort in 2000, when state and the DRPA joined forces to acquire and raze many of the businesses. The site is bordered by the Admiral Wilson Boulevard on one side and the Cooper River on the other.

I remember that, it was because the Republican Convention was in Philly and some political bigwigs were staying at the Cherry Hill Hilton, so they had to make it nice pleasant scenery on the ride over. -_-

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