SAUGET, Ill. – Call it trying to find a middle ground between economic development and school safety concerns. That’s what’s playing out in Sauget, with a major truck stop going in very close to a middle school.
A Love’s truck and travel center is being built on Mousette Lane just off Interstate 255 in Sauget. It’s also right across Mousette Lane from Wirth Middle School and the Oliver Parks Sixth Grade Center.
Nearly 750 kids attend school there.
Parents we spoke with are concerned about an already busy Mousette Lane with thousands of cars on it every day getting even more traffic.
“I am worried about the traffic because it’s already a lot going on with the school buses and parents coming from everywhere,” said Rosalind Rhymes.
Fletcher Murray, a concerned father, added, “My main concern is the safety of all the children here in this area. We already have a truck stop further down the road.”
Wirth Middle School Director Melissa Rebmann is all for the economic benefits that the project will bring. But she is concerned about student safety.
“We have taken some extra steps to make sure that our students are dismissed through other doors and to keep our students as far away from the main road as possible with the new volume of traffic that may be coming through,” she said.
The campus is closed meaning students should stay there for the entire school day.
Even so, Cahokia’s Mayor Curtis McCall, who is also the school’s seventh-grade principal, opposes the project.
However, McCall didn’t have the final say since the Love’s is in Sauget and not Cahokia.
“I don’t agree with this,” he said. “I fought against this for many, many years but there’s only so much that I could do.”
Sauget Mayor Rich Sauget Jr. said the Love’s is important economically for the entire area but had his own concerns about safety.
The city of Sauget plans to widen and improve Mousette Lane and the school’s entrances.
Two traffic lights are also being added at the nearby I-255 interchanges and a light could also be put up near the school if it’s needed in the future.
Sauget told us, 'We have an open dialogue with the school district and we`ll do anything we can to help them. I mean safety is a concern, that`s what builds up areas, you start from the beginning and from the ground up so we`ll do whatever we can with the school district to make this thing flow.'
'Our message is that we always want to do the very best for our families and that safety is a number one priority for every student here at Wirth Middle School,' said Rebmann.
Mayor Sauget says an extra 700 cars a day are expected in the stretch by the school when the travel stop opens.
The Love`s is expected to open either late this year or early next year.