Governor DeWine Cuts Ribbon on Re-Imagined Rest Area in Licking County

Governor DeWine unveils re-imagined rest area along I-70 westbound in Licking Co. in recognition of World Heritage Day.

Ohio Celebrates UNESCO World Heritage Day

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – In recognition of World Heritage Day, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Development (DOD) Director Lydia Mihalik, and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks unveiled the newly re-designed Licking County I-70 westbound rest area, which includes images of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We are transforming Ohio’s rest areas to not only provide travelers a chance to take a break, which makes everyone safer, but also invite them to discover our beautiful Ohio,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.  “Near this Licking County rest area there are two historical areas of significance – Great Circle Earthworks and Octagon Earthworks – as well as other local attractions to experience.”

Last fall, the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, which is a collection of eight earthwork locations in Ohio, became Ohio’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage designation and the 25th such designation in the United States.  Built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago, these earthworks are masterpieces of creative genius and exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision, and astronomical alignments.

“We welcome this new opportunity to inform travelers from across the state and nation about these internationally recognized treasures – the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks – located right here in Ohio in Licking, Ross, and Warren counties,” said Megan Wood, Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection. “We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from near and far to Ohio’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to these beautifully designed amenities.”

Inside the newly designed Licking County I-70 westbound rest area travelers will also see images of Licking County attractions such as downtown Newark, Dawes Arboretum, and the restored 1928 Midland Theatre. Central Ohio attractions such as the Columbus Zoo and COSI are also featured.  A 10-foot Ohio map highlights other points of interest, including Ohio’s colleges and university, state parks and campgrounds, and nearby lakes. A video board displays live weather and real-time traffic and road alerts, as well as other tourist information.

“We have a wonderful story to tell here in Ohio. The re-imagined rest areas are an important piece of telling that story, because they encapsulate the vibrant history of the surrounding area and showcase the main attractions nearby,” said Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik.  “Our ultimate goal is to inspire travelers to enjoy and extend their stay while they’re here and then return to our great state in the future.”

The rest area improvements and on-going maintenance support the independence of people with disabilities.  ODOT is working with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) to provide the stunning signage throughout this rest area and more than a dozen other future projects.   Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) is the exclusive provider for vending services at Ohio rest areas. ODOT also provides janitorial and groundskeeping job opportunities at rest areas for Ohioans with various abilities.  

“ODOT is honored to participate in these remarkable programs to help create one-of-a-kind visitor experiences and to support Ohioans with job opportunities that improve their quality of life,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.  

In May 2023, Governor DeWine and the Ohio Department of Transportation released a plan to build 33 new rest areas and upgrade more than a dozen throughout the state by the end of 2026.  

Information courtesy of the Governor of Ohio