The groundbreaking occurred Thursday’s for the city of Hannibal’s new welcome center that will overlook I-72 and Mark Twain Avenue.

Staff members of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau (HCVB), along with a few dignitaries, used gold-painted shovels Thursday to scrape a bit of icy earth and officially start construction of a new visitors center in Hannibal.

“I have one word that probably best describes how I’m feeling right now ... finally,” said Gail Bryant, director of the HCVB, referring to the two-year process. “I’m very excited. We are ready to begin the process of building a wonderful, wonderful new welcome center.”

The two-story building will be constructed just east of the Hannibal Aquatic Center, overlooking I-72.

“As we stand here right now you can see the interstate and all the traffic,” Bryant said. “It will be a great entrance to historic downtown Hannibal.”

Bryant expressed her appreciation. “I would like to thank everyone who supports tourism and has helped us reach this point,” she said.