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N.C. DOT opens 'green' rest station

The North Carolina Department of Transportation opened the state's first environmentally-friendly rest station early this month. It's off U.S. Highway 421 in Wilkesboro.

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WILKESBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation opened the state's first environmentally-friendly rest station early this month.

The Northwest North Carolina Visitor's Center, off U.S. Highway 421 in Wilkesboro, will greet visitors to the mountains.

"It's part of our initiative for greening the Department of Transportation," said Don Lee, who manages DOT's rest area program.

The $3.3 million, 10,000-square-foot building features solar panels, geothermal wells for heating and cooling, and a rain-water collection system.

"We're hopeful that we can collect enough rainwater to fully operate the site for lavatories," Lee said.

DOT officials said the green technology will pay off. The new rest stop in Wilkesboro is about 40 percent more efficient than a traditional rest area.

Older rest areas do have some green features. For example, one near Benson has recycling bins and older solar-panel technology.

The rest area in Wilkesboro, though, is an experiment the state is watching carefully.

"We've got a lot of facilities that are 25, 30 years old that need renovations," Lee said. "We're going to be looking at more green technologies."

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Brian Shrader, Reporter
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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