Every state is looking for funding solutions. Along with the interstate system, highways and bridges, state DOTs are also tasked with funding signage and hospitality. That includes the welcome centers and rest areas that thousands of motorists use each day, particularly during the traditional summer vacation driving season.
Like everything else, when funds run low for top priorities like safety and repairs, lesser priorities are neglected. Let your roadside hospitality go unattended for too long and you have an eyesore that discourages tourism and visitor spending.
That's why Georgia's approach seems to make so much sense. The DOT has approved a plan from the Transportation Board's Gateways Committee to devote revenues collected from the Georgia LOGO program to beautify the state's welcome centers. The LOGO program offers businesses advertising along highway interchanges through placement of names and logos on signs approaching exits. It generates more than $3.3 million annually.
"The opportunity to rehabilitate and beautify our Welcome Centers with the funds from the LOGO program is a perfect use of that money. We have worked closely with Governor Deal to identify the best projects to use these dedicated funds on in the state, and nothing reflects that better than improving our Welcome Centers. We are extremely excited about the work and the ultimate positive image of Georgia that will be reflected in the completed projects,” explained Sam Wellborn, committee chairman.
“We realized that the LOGO funds were a perfect fit to use in making our Welcome Centers better. Many of these have been here since the 1960s and need updating and beautification," said Board Chair Johnny Floyd.
Businesses that sign up for the Georgia Logos program enter a under a five year contract. Their fees are paid directly to the Department’s gateway reserves which funds various highway beautification projects statewide.
Past projects have included landscaping grants, hardscapes, lighting and more, all at no cost to taxpayers. Current reserves are being set aside to begin the Welcome Center renovations.
All things considered, it looks like a cost-efficient approach that spares taxpayers the expense. Kudos to Georgia DOT for developing this revenue stream!