Casey’s blocks trucks from lot
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · July 19, 2013

Lynch’s Excavating placed large pipes with orange X’s to block off the gravel truck parking lot across from Kum & Go after trucks got trailers caught in the ditch “once a week” in the last month.

Police Chief Mike Horihan said that two trucks got caught in the drop-off within 10 days despite the 85-foot-wide entrance. The gravel entrance comes close to the ditch, so trucks turning right too sharply out of the lot will pull the rear of the trailer over the gap.

The West Branch Times took a picture of one truck getting dragged out of the ditch on June 27, and the police chief said trucks were getting caught “once a week” after that.

City Administrator Matt Muckler and Mayor Mark Worrell decided the intersection was not safe and contacted Casey’s General Store, which purchased the lot to build a new gas station and convenience store near Interstate 80.

Muckler said the city even sent to Casey’s the picture of the stuck truck that appeared in the Times, at which time a Casey’s representative agreed to block the parking lot.

The city met last week with A. Lee Pelds’ engineering firm, which is preparing a site plan for Casey’s, and part of that discussion included “traffic control issues.”

When Werner Trucking leased that parking lot, Horihan said, they placed concrete barriers near the drop-off to keep trucks from falling in. But the city will want Casey’s to make a more comprehensive update to the entrance, Muckler said, including improvements to Tidewater Drive, just to the south, a pedestrian crossing, and widening Parkside Drive/X30 to build a left-turn lane.

Worrell said widening the road will require the city to fill in the ditch and turn it into a sewer system instead, eliminating the drop-off. Muckler said the street will be widened by seven feet and the lines will be repainted.

Worrell said the cost for the project will likely be split three ways — Casey’s, the city and McDonald’s as McDonald’s was supposed to build a sidewalk with its new building but got permission to wait.

Casey’s is not yet finished with its site plan, so nothing has been finalized, Muckler said.

Muckler and Worrell said the city cannot force Casey’s to fix the ditch problem, but Worrell said the council has the power to reject site plans.

Horihan said Casey’s representatives understand that trucks caught in the ditch narrow the street to a single lane for an hour or two, tying up traffic and police officers’ time.

“Sooner or later, a truck is going to get flipped over, ... or the next semi will have a high and heavy load, or the wrecker may not know what he is doing,” the police chief said. “That’s a busy intersection.”

Horihan said Dave Peden repairs Werner’s trucks, so he would also “flush out” non-Werner trucks that decided to park there.

“Now there’s no one locally with a vested interest to monitor that parking lot,” he said. “Thankfully Casey’s has responded in that fashion.”

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