A few years ago, previous St. Clair Township Highway Commissioner Mark Burk closed off part of Mine Haul road at Illinois 158.
Since being elected, current Highway Commissioner Skip Kernan has been working to reopen it, and he plans to award the work to a contractor by mid-July.
Kernan says he has been asked by residents in the area, as well as law enforcement and firefighters, to reconnect the road to Illinois 158.
The cost is estimated to be about $125,000, which includes putting in a left turn lane from Illinois 158 to Mine Haul Road. Bids are expected to be opened mid-July, Kernan said. Money for the project would come from money set aside for construction and from motor fuel tax money.
“We will be putting that project No. 1, ahead of every other project around here, to get Mine Haul Road reopen at the taxpayers’ request,” Kernan said.
We will be putting that project No. 1, ahead of every other project around here, to get Mine Haul road reopen at the taxpayers’ request.
St. Clair Township Highway Commissioner Skip Kernan
“As soon as the contractor is available, I’m pushing that thing forward,” Kernan said.
However, the project has some township trustees concerned.
Trustee Jaynie Wells said she had safety concerns.
“What are you going to do when the high school kids are going 45 mph?” Wells said. “It’s a half-a-mile from Mine Haul Road to the 158 stop sign. There’s no turn lane there on Frank Scott Parkway. Someone is going to get hurt there.”
Wells also accused Kernan of reopening the road for political reasons, and said the township hasn’t performed any traffic studies on the intersection.
“This is a foolish action,” Wells said.
Kernan said he consulted with an engineer, firefighters and the sheriff’s office.
“It will have more safety, than by keeping it closed,” Kernan said.
He added the road district already maintains Mine Haul Road, and adding the additional strip may only cost an additional $2,000 a year.
Former St. Clair Township Supervisor Tim Buchanon said many people believe the Frank Scott Parkway and Illinois 158 intersection that is just under a half-mile to the southwest is not safe.
“If it is not safe, something needs to be done to correct that problem,” Buchanon said. “Providing a bypass, for a few people who know about it, isn’t going to affect an unsafe intersection. I would think our road commissioner should be working with anybody that’s coming to him with a safety concern to get that intersection improved.”
Previous Highway Commissioner Mark Burk had the road closed when he decided the cost of maintaining the stretch was too much if both ends were open. In 2011 the road was cut off from the northwest where Mine Haul connects with Illinois 158, south of Belleville West High School.
Providing a bypass, for a few people who know about it, isn’t going to effect an unsafe intersection. I would think our road commissioner should be working with anybody that’s coming to him with a safety concern to get that intersection improved.
Former St. Clair Township Supervisor Tim Buchanon on Illinois 158 and Frank Scott Parkway intersection
Currently a berm creates a roughly 45-foot gap between the end of Mine Haul Road and Illinois 158.
St. Louis Composting, which is the only business on Mine Haul between Frank Scott and Illinois 158, could have helped pay for the maintenance of the road to keep both ends open, but it declined, Burk told the BND in 2012.
When the road closed, it took away an option of turning onto Route 158.
Kurt Pellmann, the Millstadt Fire Department fire chief, which responds to vehicle crashes at the intersection of Illinois 158 and Frank Scott Parkway, said he’d support reopening the road.
The intersection, as well as Mine Haul Road, is within their jurisdiction.
The fire department opposed closing off Mine Haul Road.
“I’m hoping to see it back open,” Pellmann said.
When there were vehicle crashes at the intersection of Frank Scott and Illinois 158, the fire department preferred to use Mine Haul Road to detour traffic away from the intersection.
“We had no control in keeping it open,” Pellmann added. “We learned to live with it.”
St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said he would support reopening the road.
“Anytime you close down a road, you put all the traffic in one spot,” Watson said. “There’s a lot of people who use that road. Everyone likes to have an alternate route when things are backed up. For police and fire, for us to get around, it makes it a lot easier.”