Artist’s rendering of the Love’s truck stop planned for Herculaneum.

Artist’s rendering of the Love’s truck stop planned for Herculaneum.

After a new traffic study is completed, it looks like the Love’s Travel Stops will proceed with its plans to build a truck stop on a 28-acre site west of I-55 and north of McNutt Street and Providence Way in Herculaneum.

City Administrator Jim Kasten said he believes the traffic study will be completed in four to six weeks.

He also said Love’s officials hope to have their Herculaneum truck stop open by next fall.

The Herculaneum Board of Aldermen voted 6-0 Jan. 17 to approve the company’s requests to build and operate a 24-hour convenience store and gas station.

Board members also agreed to approve the company’s site plan for the Love’s truck stop, with several conditions.

One of the conditions is to have a traffic study of the area, that was completed in 2017, reviewed and possibly updated, but the city is taking it a step further and having a new study completed, Kasten said.

Other conditions require buffering designed to protect the nearby subdivision from air, noise and light pollution.

The Jan. 17 meeting was held at the Herculaneum High School Theater instead of Herculaneum City Hall since city officials anticipated another large crowd of protesters, but only about 20 people turned out, and not all of them were protesters.

For months, Providence subdivision residents have fought the proposed truck stop, citing worries about increased traffic and crime in the area, as well as increased air, noise and light pollution.

Love’s representatives also have attended the meetings and said their research refutes the protesters’ claims about the development leading to traffic and crime problems. They also have said the company will use buffering measures to protect the subdivision residents.

In approving the Love’s requests, the aldermen went along with the Herculaneum Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to approve the development, with the various conditions.

Kasten said he believes the traffic study from 2017 is still valid and the city doesn’t need a new one. However, he said it won’t hurt to have a new one.

The city will pay CBB Engineering in St. Louis $13,500 for the new study, Kasten said.

He said Access Engineering in St. Louis, which has since become TREKK Design Group, completed the previous study.

“It will be beneficial (to have the 2017 traffic study analyzed) for upcoming MoDOT projects on I-55 in the area,” Kasten said. “Engineers I’ve contacted have said the roundabout is safe.

“We had 160 accidents in six years at that intersection before getting the roundabout. There’s only been one accident there since the roundabout came. That’s why I didn’t feel it was contingent to have the study (before allowing Love’s to proceed with its project). But, if we’ve got good information for MoDOT, it can only help them.”

Kasten has said the truck stop is an allowed use under the property’s existing zoning, so denying the project would put the city in a bad legal position.

Many Providence subdivision residents have not been swayed by the arguments supporting the development.

Carrie Turner, a subdivision resident who attended the meeting, once again spoke against the project.

“I think I’m just disappointed it’s moved further along, even with the traffic numbers they projected,” Turner said. “They had said there’d be 10,000 vehicles a day (coming to Love’s). Now, they’re saying 8,124 vehicles a day coming. That’s a huge safety issue.”

Another subdivision resident, Christina Clements, said she believes the deal is done and the new traffic study will make no difference.

“I’m very disheartened,” Clements said. “They’ve just given approval for (the city’s) own traffic study. I feel it won’t be legitimate.”

Steve Walters, a Love’s real estate property manager, said waiting for a new traffic study will not hurt the project.

“We’re fine with it,” Walters said. “We want it to be safe.”