So you're headed west to the mountains, and the 32-ounce soda you downed in Winston-Salem has finally run its course. If you can make it to North Wilkesboro, stop at the state's first environmentally friendly rest area, the Northwest North Carolina Visitor Center. On Oct. 1, the N.C. Department of Transportation opened the center, located on the northbound side of U.S. 421 in North Wilkesboro.
The $12 million, 10,030-square-foot green rest area will recoup some of its construction costs through several energy-saving features:
In addition to features normally provided at visitor centers, such as parking for cars and trucks, vending machines and picnic areas, a walking trail loops the site. Benches and wood chips that line the trail come from trees felled during construction. NCDOT claims that because of these recycling efforts it was able to reduce the amount of waste sent to local landfills by 90 percent.
See live outputs from the rest area's systems at ncdot.technology-view.com/wilkes.