DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s barely been open six weeks, but could the multi-million dollar Long Island Expressway welcome center, be forced to close?

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, taxpayers want to know why the state and federal government didn’t workout the kinks before thousands of dollars of locally grown goods were brought in to be sold to travelers.

The $20-million welcome center on Long Island is open for business between exits 51 and 52, selling locally produced fresh and healthy foods and beverages.

The Federal Highway Administration said what’s going on is illegal.

“I think it sounds very strange,” tourist Hank Koehler said.

It may seem strange — federal law allows vending machines — but not commercial money-making enterprises at rest and recreation centers along its interstates.

A local chef featured in the welcome center video came to see what all the fuss was about.

“I think we have regulated ourselves to the point of pain at this point. I think it’s silly,” Long Island chef Tom Schaudel said.

The Federal Highway Administration told CBS2’s McLogan that it will work with New York to bring the state into compliance.

The State Department of Transportation pushed saying the center is merely supporting local growers and entrepreneurs. They said the feds need to update a highway law that is more than 50 years old.

Taxpayers said they’ve had enough.

“Who okayed this project? Why is there a discrepancy now, after all this money was paid,” Rori Gordon said.

The bickering also continued over controversial “I love New York” tourism signs. Hundreds of them went up a cross the state. The feds said they never okayed them, and that they need to come down due to their size and message.

The legality and future of both the rest stop sales, and ‘I love New York’ tourism signs will be addressed this week when the state DOT travels to Washington to plead its case.

It is not yet clear how much taxpayers would be liable for in the sign removal and rest stop changes.




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