SIKESTON - Just in time for the last big summer driving weekend, the Welcome Center at Hayti will again welcome visitors. The Center reopens today after being closed since July 18 due to problems with mold in the air conditioning system.
Chris Rutledge, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said the mold was discovered in the the duct work of the air conditioning system. He explained the summer rains combined with the heat caused "sweating" in the air ducts, leading to the growth of mold.
The $11,629,285 centers were opened earlier this summer at Hayti and Marston. It was at the Hayti Welcome Center, located on northbound Interstate 55 at mile marker 20.2, that tourism staff first reported seeing mold. At the Marston Welcome Center, which is on southbound Interstate 55 at mile marker 42.4, MoDOT inspectors found the "sweating" problem but no mold, Rutledge said.
The Information Center portion of the rest area at Hayti was closed to prevent long-term exposure of mold, which is considered a health hazard, to the staff until the problem could be corrected. Rutledge noted the rest room facilities remained open as they were not impacted by the mold problems.
"We did not open the tourist information center until we had mold cleared out," he said. The contractors completed the work on removing the mold Tuesday, he said, and were cleaning up after their work Wednesday.
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