Truck Stop Woes: Local Business Leaders and Residents Speak Up On New Speedway Station

Effingham, IL / Effingham Radio

Area residents and business leaders are expressing concerns over a new Speedway Truck Stop set to be built on W. Fayette Avenue, just east of Comfort Suites on the small extension of Raney Street. The proposed truck stop would include a fueling station, for trucks and cars, along with a convenience store. The site plan for the project was recommended by the City Plan Commission last week.

Rollin Hills resident Karen Cheatum discusses concerns with the Fayette Ave. Speedway project.

Rollin Hills resident Karen Cheatum discusses concerns with the Fayette Ave. Speedway project.

However residents of Rollin Hills subdivision, and local business owners, are expressing concerns over the development. While there will be 200 feet between the rear of the truck stop and the subdivision, people who live in Rollin Hills are worried. “I don’t like it and neither does anyone else who lives there,” said resident Karen Cheatum at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. As part of the project, the north portion of Raney Street could be extended to create another entrance to Rollin Hills, which Cheatum says could lead to truck traffic in an already congested neighborhood. “People walk those streets all the time, with their pets, with their children, [and] with children on their bicycles,” Cheatum continued. Current plans for the Speedway project do not include expanding Raney all the way to the subdivision, but the option would be available for future developers. The road will be expanded enough to allow access to the truck stop, but will end with a cul-de-sac.

City Administrator Jim Arndt, and Rollin Hills resident, voiced his support for a new entrance to the subdivision via Fayette and likened using the current entrance on Keller Drive to playing “Frogger,” a video game about a frog trying to dodge traffic.

Another neighborhood resident, Deb Jackson, said that the truck stop’s rear lot was simply too close the homes on S. Lakewood Drive. “I do not want it there,” she said, citing additional concerns about traffic and noise generated by the stop.

Local business leaders have also voiced their worry about the project. Local hotel owner Richard Beatty attended the plan commission meeting last week and expressed concern with noise that truck traffic would generate in close proximity to Comfort Suites. “I think the ground is going to shake,” Beatty remarked. “Of course, the noise pollution will be there all night long,” he continued. Beatty said that he didn’t attend the meeting to stop the project, but was worried that the noise and traffic could adversely impact the hotel’s business.

Niemerg’s Steak House Owner Gene Niemerg said that he “was very concerned about elderly people exiting” the restaurant. Niemerg’s is located just west of Comfort Suites on Fayette. His worry is that the additional traffic could make it even more difficult for people to pull out the restaurant onto the already busy street.

City Engineer Jeremy Heuerman said he doesn’t anticipate “a whole lot” of traffic backup as a result of the truck stop. Once the traffic light at the intersection of Raney and Fayette is reprogrammed to accommodate a commercial project, by IDOT, it should keep traffic flowing. Heuerman also said that Speedway is “going above and beyond what zoning ordinance would require” for the green space between the neighborhood and the proposed rear-parking lot. Speedway has committed to planting a series of tall evergreen trees in addition to shrubbery.

Raney Street will be extended back as part of the project.

Raney Street will be extended back as part of the project.

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