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Construction on proposed travel center should begin this spring

By Richard Rourk

A full service travel center will call Unicoi home in 2021.

According to Riggs Oil Company President Arnold Riggs, who owns 21 stores throughout Virginia and Tennessee, work on the Black Diamond Travel Center in Unicoi could begin in the early spring of 2021.

“We hope to break ground in March and be open by July,” Riggs said. “We are excited about the location. There aren’t many places along that stretch where our truckers can pull off to relax. I really thought that Unicoi could use a nice one-stop convenience stop and gas station so we decided to build one.”

Town of Unicoi Mayor Kathy Bullen is thrilled to see a travel center come to Unicoi.

“On behalf of the citizens of the Town of Unicoi, the Mayor and Board of Alderman are very excited to see this proposed development at exit 32,” Bullen said. “Being able to purchase gas/fuel at this exit will be a huge benefit to many citizens and travelers on Interstate 26. I understand that Black Diamond is a high quality organization that develops high quality facilities. A full-service convenience center will be a great asset to our town resources.”

Bullen acknowledged that the travel center would be a boost to the Town of Unicoi’s economy.

“A boost in tax revenues will support town efforts to provide improved and enhanced services to citizens,” Bullen said. “We look forward to a thriving business at this location.”

The travel center will include both octane and diesel pumps and so much more.

“It will be similar to our Piney Flats location, but we will have diesel as well as several truck lanes,” Riggs said. “It will be a Shell station with a Black Diamond convenience store.”

According to Riggs, the Black Diamond travel center will be open 24 hours  a day, seven days a week.

“We will have a drive-thru that features our deli and bakery’s food,” Riggs said. “We will have food made to order. The travel center will be open 24 hours a day.”

Bullen confirmed that the travel center will compliment Unicoi’s tourism plan.

“Increasing tourism opportunities continues to be a goal for all of our county,” Bullen said. “It is important to understand how this development contributes to the overall plan. It is infrastructure to support tourism efforts countywide.”