A major roadhouse has been proposed on the south side of Cameron in Clinton County, and its impact could spill over to its closest neighbor – Cameron Regional Medical Center.
The hospital building and grounds committee held a meeting on 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 Representative 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 is owner of the land for the proposed trip stop.
Markley began his presentation by handing over two documents, one listing the hospital’s concerns about the truck stop and the other a traffic study done for Love’s. Among the hospital’s concerns were traffic delays that could increase mortality, long-term health effects, crime and the economy. It also included an appendix of specific City of Cameron ordinances related 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 disputed the idea that an environmental study should be conducted since the proposed travel stop is on land that had previously been zoned commercial. He added that zoning rules were in place even before the hospital was built.
“There are no more calls from the city and (we) cannot stop the project,” Corcoran said. “The city has property rights.”
Speaking on concerns about the lack of notice about the project, Dan Early said he had been in discussions with community leaders about the Love’s project since December 2019. This prompted a quick response 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, according to the guidelines of the economic development group, they cannot share this information.
“There is a code when it comes to these discussions,” Abrutz said. “I have met you and the group, but confidentiality is essential. Blane has done his due diligence, but there’s no description of what’s on offer until recently. I am a member of E-Doc and I will not “sing”. This is where I stand.
The traffic study prepared for the Love’s project in Cameron found that Love’s would have a country store and indoor restaurant with 16 standard refueling stations, a fast food restaurant with drive-thru and nine truck bays for refueling. The executive summary indicates that the project is expected to be completed and fully operational in 2021.
The study indicated that none of the turning motion volumes at any of the truck stop entrances exceed the threshold to warrant a right or left turning lane, either now or in the projected future.
Concerns about emergency vehicle access were paramount throughout the discussions. Cameron City Manager Steve Rasmussen said Love’s has indicated it is willing to build an additional right-turn lane into the hospital for emergency vehicles, at the company’s expense.
“Love is ready to build it. (We) need to know if you want it? he said, adding that the city’s top priority was to pave the gravel sections of Bob Griffin Road. “Bob Griffin is important and we will find a way to open it.”
Another issue raised was the interchange at BB Highway off I-35. A Missouri Department of Transportation engineer was listening in by phone, and Mike Brown, chairman of the hospital’s buildings and grounds committee, asked if the project would require interchange improvements. The engineer said there was no problem with the exchange and they didn’t have the money to make any improvements. The only funds available would be used to maintain the existing system.
State Rep. Randy Railsback took the floor and offered potential help, if needed. The newly elected Eight District representative said he had spent the past 30 years in regional planning.
“There is a cost-sharing program with a 50/50 match,” he said. “Emergency traffic must be supported. We need to look at the worst case scenario and see the weather. Time is of the essence when it comes to emergency services, and it’s the biggest traffic problem.
Rasmussen offered, “I think addressing all of these concerns and working together to find answers is the starting point.”
Abrtuz said, “Tell me where another truck stop is in the country with a hospital next to it, and I’ll be on the road to find out how they solved these problems.”