Monday evening, a dozen interested citizens, including all three Linn County Commissioners and the Brookfield IDA Director, attended the first meeting to explore the possibility of opening a full-service truck stop in Linn County.
The meeting was organized by Denzil Heaney, who has argued convincingly that when construction commences on I-70, there will be a ‘three to five-year window of opportunity’ to capture the business of those who have to use U.S. Highway 36 as an alternate route. So far, the Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDoT) has announced that the plan to renovate I-70 should be ready for release by the spring of 2014. That plan may include a truck lane. MoDoT officials are entertaining a ‘public-private partnership’ that wouldn’t need voter consent to rebuild portions of I-70 and would be funded either by making I-70 a toll road and/or persuading the Missouri Legislature to increase the fuel tax to a level commensurate with that of neighboring states. The prospect of tolls and closing parts of I-70 while it’s under construction would undoubtedly persuade motorists to opt for U.S. 36, and Heaney believes Linn County should capitalize on the opportunity by building a truck stop in Linn County along what was recently renamed U.S. 36 / Missouri 110, the Chicago to Kansas City (CKC) Expressway.
As a courtesy to the Linn County Commission and the IDA Directors in both Brookfield and Marceline, Heaney had invited their participation during Monday’s meeting at the Brookfield VFW Hall. Presiding Commissioner Dick King, Commissioners Bill Dorsey and Jim Libby, and Brookfield IDA Director Becky Cleveland all participated, and Marceline IDA Director Darrell Gardner indicated that although he couldn’t make it to Monday evening’s meeting at the Brookfield VFW Hall, he was interested in being a part of the effort to establish a truck stop in Linn County.
“This truck stop could mean real jobs for real people in Linn County and the addition of over $1 million to our local economy,” Heaney told the gathering as he opened Monday evening’s meeting. “A full- service truck stop open 24 hours a day, seven days a week would employ anywhere from 60 to 100 people who wouldn’t require extensive training or background to provide services ranging from managers to cashiers, to food servers to dishwashers and laundry room attendants.”
Heaney then informed the gathering that he had been in contact with a consultant who specializes in putting ‘travel center’ (i.e., euphemism for truck stop) packages together that can then be presented to prospective truck stop chains like Flying J, Roady’s Truck Stops, and TravelCenters of America. However, Heaney isn’t dismissing the idea of establishing an independent full service truck stop, which would require partnering with ‘some other entity.’