A major truck stop has been proposed on the south side of Cameron in Clinton County, and its impact could spill over to its nearest neighbor – the Cameron Regional Medical Center.
Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store is planning to open a location on vacant land at the northeast intersection of BB Highway and Interstate 35 in Cameron, Mo. While the location would boast quick access to the interstate, its entrances would also be just 200 feet from the medical center, posing concerns for CRMC.
The hospital’s building and grounds committee held a meeting Friday, February 26, in the hospital cafeteria, which included officials from all sides: CRMC CEO Joe Abrutz, CRMC attorney Blane Markley, Cameron City Manager Steve Rasmussen, Cameron City Attorney Padraic Corcoran, Eighth District State Rep. Randy Railsback, Cameron Mayor Denny Clark, Clinton County Commissioner Richard Riddell, Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish, Cameron Police Chief Rick Bashor, and Dan Early, whose family owns the land for the proposed travel stop.
CRMC CEO Joe Abrutz made a brief introduction before giving the floor to the hospital’s attorney, Blaine Markley, who Abrutz said will be leading the hospital’s consideration of options pertaining to the travel stop.
Markley opened his presentation by giving two handouts, one that listed the hospital’s concerns with the truck stop and another a traffic study completed for Love’s. Among the concerns of the hospital were traffic delays that could increase mortality, long-term health impacts, crime, and economics. It also included an appendix of specific Cameron city ordinances pertaining to public health.
After his remarks, Markley asked about the status of the project and whether an environmental study had been conducted for the location.
Cameron City Attorney Padraic Corcoran took issue with the idea that an environmental study needed to be conducted since the proposed travel stop is on land that had already been zoned commercial. He added that the zoning rules were in place even before the construction of the hospital.
“There are no more appeals by the city and (we) can’t stop the project,” Corcoran said. “The city has property rights.”
Speaking on concerns about a lack of notice about the project, Dan Early said that he had been in discussions with community leaders about the Love’s project since December 2019. This sparked a quick reply from Joe Abrutz. He said in bold terms that he had been included in what he called electronic document conversations that included Love’s. However, under the guidelines of the economic development group, they cannot share that information.
“There is a code when it comes to these discussions,” Abrutz said. “I met with you and the group, but confidentiality is essential. Blane has done his due diligence, but there is no description of what is proposed until recently. I’m an E-Doc member and I won’t ‘crow.’ That’s where I stand.”
The traffic study prepared for the Love’s project in Cameron revealed that Love’s would have a Country Store and interior restaurant with 16 standard fueling positions, a fast food restaurant with a drive thru, and nine truck bays for fueling. The executive summary said that the project is expected to be completed and fully operational in 2021.
The study stated that none of the turning movement volumes at any of the truck stop driveways exceed the threshold to warrant a right or left turn lane, neither now nor in the projected future.
Concerns about emergency vehicle access were paramount throughout the discussions. Cameron City Manager Steve Rasmussen said that Love’s had indicated that they were willing to build an additional right turn lane into the hospital for emergency vehicles, at the company’s expense.
“Love’s is willing to build it. (We) need to know if you want it?” he said, adding that the city’s highest priority was to pave the gravel stretches of Bob Griffin Road. “Bob Griffin is important and we will figure out a way to pave it.”
The interchange at BB Highway off of I-35 was another issue raised. An engineer from the Missouri Department of Transportation was listening via telephone and was asked by Mike Brown, chairman of the hospital’s building and grounds committee, if the project would necessitate improvements at the interchange. The engineer said there was no issue with the exchange and they did not have the money to make any improvements. The only funds available would be used to maintain the existing set-up.
State Representative Randy Railsback took the floor and offered some potential help, if needed. The newly-elected Eight District rep said he had spent the last 30 years in regional planning.
“There is a cost share program with a 50/50 match,” he said. “The emergency traffic needs to be addressed. We need to look at the worst case scenario and see about the time. Time is important when it comes to emergency services, and that is the biggest traffic concern.”
Rasmussen offered, “I think addressing all these concerns and working together to find answers is the place to start.”
Abrtuz said, “Tell me where there is another truck stop in the country with a hospital next door, and I will be on the road to find out how they solved these issues.”
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