New Dollar General concerns businesses

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

MoDOT conducts traffic study, determines signal is not warranted

Dollar General has broken ground for a new store at 11th and Main Street, and nearby businesses are worried about the effect the store may have on traffic at the intersection of 11th and Main streets.

The store has endured flooding episodes at its current site at 401 Main St., prompting a relocation, according to Store Manager Colleen Peoples.

Construction began Nov. 8, and the new store is scheduled to open in late April, says Dan MacDonald, senior director of corporate communications for the store. The new Dollar General will have 1,500 additional square feet, expanding from its current 5,800 square feet to 7,300.

"The new store located at 1104 Main St. in Cassville will be a DG16, which is our new store format," MacDonald said. "It will have 22 cooler doors -- which means a broader selection of frozen and refrigerated food offerings. The format also features an expanded health and beauty section and a more efficient check out. It makes for a great shopping experience.

"We expect to have a soft opening in mid-April and a grand opening on April 29. The store will open at 8 a.m.. The first 50 adult customers will receive a $10 gift cards, and the first 200 adult customers will receive a DG tote bag with goodies and discount coupon savings."

The store is known for low prices, but perhaps its biggest feature, MacDonald said, is convenience.

"We're a fill-in stop for customers, so you get your paper towels, laundry detergent and some soap, or on your way home your husband calls and says, 'Honey, can you get a gallon of milk and some Hefty bags,' and you grab those five or six items and you're rolling," he said.

While nearby businesses welcome the new store, some are concerned about increased traffic at an intersection they say is already congested, especially in the afternoons when Cassville schools dismiss and Justin Boots Company has a shift change.

Chell Taylor, phlebotomist at Roark Family Health Care, located across the street, said Roark employees already seen a lot of accidents at that intersection and are concerned.

"We think it will bring more business this way, but are wary about the intersection because within a year of us being here, there have been six accidents, so we're very worried about how increased traffic is going to work with the new store here. We've even put together a pack of gauze and band aids to have ready for the car accidents, that's how many [accidents] there have been."

A recent accident involved two children, with one airlifted by helicopter to Springfield for injuries, Taylor said.

"It seems like the accidents happen about the time Justin Boots and school gets out," she said. "They get out about the same time. It makes traffic even busier, and we have more kids walking on new sidewalks now, too."

Taylor said Dr. Lisa Roark, clinic owner, talked with MoDOT to discuss putting in a four-way stop or stoplight at the intersection.

"[Our understanding was that] they said there were no plans to unless someone gets severely hurt," Taylor said. "I know they've put a camera up at the intersection, but when they did, school was out, and they took it down before school went back into session."

MacDonald did not think the store would create a traffic issue.

"We tend to be a convenience option for people, so we generally don't have much of an impact on traffic flow, as there are not 1,000 people in the parking lot like at a super store. The average person is in a DG for 10 minutes or less. They tend to go in, find the items they need and they're out. That's part of the value we offer to consumers. We are like a small box neighborhood store, so because our volume of customers isn't very high, and we don't have extreme rush periods, just a steady flow during the day, we tend to have minimal impact on traffic."

At the request of the health clinic, Randy Morris, senior traffic studies specialist with MoDOT, did complete a traffic study at the intersection to determine if a traffic signal is needed.

"If we get a customer service request, we do studies based on peoples' concerns," he said. "I'm putting the numbers together to see if it meets the warrants."

"They need something here," said Tiffany Burton, Jump Stop Convenience Store manager. "I hope they put a stoplight in because with more traffic, I'm sure there will be more wrecks. The wrecks are bad enough when the kids get out of school."

Morris reported the results of the study showed it did not meet MoDOTs warrants for a signal.

"There wasn't enough traffic on the side streets and main line," he said. "It was more than I expected, but didn't quite meet the warrants we use to determine if a signal is needed. I understand that school was out when it was done, but that wouldn't have caused the traffic counts to be any different than any other day."

Morris said he believed a technician conducted the study in early November, near the time frame Cassville schools had its fall break, but couldn't confirm exact dates.

"We don't [get to] pick and choose what days we schedule the study," Morris said. "Our tech went out and did a count, and those are the values that we got."

Previously a Casey's Store, Jump Stop has been at its current location for at least 35 years, Burton said, and with the Dollar General offering convenience products, she expects some competition.

"I'm sure some of our convenience items sales will go down, but hopefully, it balances out with the fuel," she said.

Cr-ose Cafe owners Laveta and Stu Crowe welcomed the new store.

"We are absolutely delighted to have DG build on that corner," Laveta Crow said.

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