STANTON, Tenn. – The new Interstate 40 Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center officially opened today in Haywood County.
University of Tennessee, state and local leaders gathered today to celebrate the modern 14,000-square-foot building, which will greet visitors traveling the I-40 corridor. At the heart of the center is an interactive exhibit designed by the University of Tennessee, SPECTRUM, which highlights the state’s advancements in renewable energy.
The center is the result of collaboration between the Tennessee Departments of Transportation and Tourist Development, as well as the University of Tennessee, which oversees the 5-megawatt, 25-acre West Tennessee Solar Farm surrounding the building. The one-of-a-kind SPECTRUM exhibit tells the story of the West Tennessee Solar Farm and how solar energy radiates through every aspect of life, powering lights, classrooms, businesses and industries. The colorful LED-lit, futuristic design of the SPECTRUM exhibit is visible from the highway.
“The University of Tennessee looks forward to educating future engineers and scientists at the Haywood County Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center,” said Diane McNeil, business manager for the University of Tennessee’s Office of Research. “Our SPECTRUM solar exhibit and the solar farm, paired together, is a unique way to show the public how solar impacts our lives and what the University and state are doing to lead the way to a new energy economy.”
Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett said millions of people drive through the state annually.
“Our welcome centers are designed to not only be a comfortable stop for these visitors, but also a warm, hospitable opportunity to learn more about our state,” he said. “With this welcome center, we take it to another level so travelers can learn about how the state is using renewable energy to provide a resourceful, efficient center while creating jobs in West Tennessee at the same time.”
Construction on the new I-40 Haywood County Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center began in November 2016 and came in under budget at $3.4 million. ANF Architects designed the facility. In addition to the interactive display, the new welcome center houses reception, tourism displays, restrooms and staff spaces; an Information Center featuring the interactive renewable energy exhibit; an attached vending structure and open-air covered picnic terrace.
“I am pleased to open the newest welcome center along I-40 westbound in Haywood County,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Our 18 rest areas and now 16 welcome centers across the state provide a comfort stop for motorists as they travel our beautiful state.”
The I-40 Solar Farm Information and Welcome Center, located in Stanton between Jackson and Memphis, provides convenient access for 12 million Interstate 40 vehicles to visit the West Tennessee Solar Farm and SPECTRUM exhibit. It’s located on I-40 West Bound at Mile Marker 44. If traveling east on I-40, take exit 47 and re-enter the interstate heading west-bound.