TravelCenters of America has quietly opened its Bulloch County TA Express Travel Center on U.S. Highway 301 at the Interstate 16 interchange.
After paving of the parking and driveway areas was completed, “We’re open” banner signs went up about two weeks ago. As of Tuesday, tradespeople were still making a few finishing touches to the exterior of the main building and its permanent signage, and some shelving areas inside the convenience store remained to be filled. But the store – stocked for family travelers and commuters as well as truckers – was serving customers. So was the attached Burger King.
The center also includes sheltered rows of fuel pumps – gasoline in front and diesel in back – plus a lounge and showers for professional truck drivers and a separate three-bay truck service center.
Eleven months ago, in November 2021, officials of the Bulloch County government and local development agencies met TravelCenters of America executives on what was then a packed clay pad for the ceremonial groundbreaking. It was an unusual amount of attention for a highway-oriented commercial business, but the TA Express is the first new business to be built and open in Bulloch County’s long-prepared I-16 Tax Allocation District, or TAD.
Added property values from new investments there will result in property tax growth committed to paying for infrastructure such as roadways and water and sewer lines within the entire 200-acre TAD, which surrounds the interchange. The southeast quadrant features the Southern Gateway Commerce Park, owned by the Development Authority of Bulloch County.
Since TravelCenters of America purchased its 19.4-acre site outright from the Development Authority, the TA Express doesn’t really remain part of the Commerce Park.
But local officials, including Development Authority of Bulloch County CEO Benjy Thompson, have said the center should serve as a calling card for industries and other businesses.
“Certainly having the fuel center here is going to bring more attention to the interchange, not just locally but throughout the region, throughout the state,” Thompson said in November. “We believe the travel center will be complimentary to whatever industrial recruitment we do at Southern Gateway, or anywhere up and down this corridor.”